What keeps cedar from rotting

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Cedar is a popular wood choice for various outdoor applications due to its natural beauty, durability, and resistance to decay. However, to ensure that cedar maintains its longevity and remains resistant to rot, it’s essential to understand the factors that can cause rot and take necessary preventive measures. In this article, we will delve into the reasons behind cedar rot and explore effective ways to protect cedar from this issue.

What keeps cedar from rotting

To ensure that your cedar posts last as long as possible, it is important to take steps to protect them from moisture. This includes installing them in a dry, well-drained area and using a sealant to protect the wood from water damage.

Cedar is a type of wood known for its remarkable qualities and aesthetic appeal. It is commonly used for exterior projects such as fencing, decking, siding, and outdoor furniture. While cedar possesses natural resistance to decay, it is still susceptible to rot under certain conditions. Understanding the factors that contribute to cedar rot is crucial in order to preserve its integrity and extend its lifespan.

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Understanding Cedar

Characteristics of Cedar

Cedar wood exhibits several characteristics that make it a desirable choice for outdoor applications. It has natural oils and resins that act as preservatives, helping to deter insects and fungi. Additionally, cedar contains extractives that provide it with a unique aroma and a pleasant appearance, making it visually appealing for various projects.

What keeps cedar from rotting

Why Cedar is Prone to Rot

Despite its inherent resistance to decay, cedar can still rot if exposed to unfavorable conditions over time. It’s important to recognize the specific vulnerabilities of cedar in order to effectively prevent rot. The primary factors that contribute to cedar rot include moisture and humidity, fungal growth, and insect infestation.

Factors That Cause Cedar Rot

Moisture and Humidity

Excessive moisture and humidity are major culprits when it comes to cedar rot. Cedar wood needs to remain relatively dry to maintain its durability. When cedar is constantly exposed to moisture, such as rain or high humidity, it can lead to the wood’s saturation and subsequent decay. Moisture acts as a catalyst for fungal growth, making it essential to protect cedar from prolonged contact with water.

Fungal Growth

Fungal growth is a common issue that can accelerate cedar rot. Fungi thrive in damp environments and can break down the wood fibers, causing it to deteriorate. The most notorious type of fungus associated with cedar rot is the brown rot fungus, which consumes cellulose and hemicellulose in the wood. Preventing fungal growth is essential to maintain the structural integrity of cedar.

Insect Infestation

Insects, such as termites and carpenter ants, can cause significant damage to cedar by burrowing into the wood and creating tunnels. These pests weaken the structure of cedar and make it more susceptible to rot. Regular inspection and appropriate measures to deter insects are crucial to prevent infestation and subsequent decay.

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Protecting Cedar from Rot

To safeguard cedar from rot and ensure its longevity, it is necessary to implement preventive measures. By following these steps, you can mitigate the risks and maintain the beauty and durability of the cedar wood:

Proper Installation

Proper installation of cedar is vital to prevent rot. Start by selecting a well-drained location for your cedar projects. Ensure that the area has good airflow and is not prone to water accumulation. When setting up cedar posts, ensure they are securely anchored and elevated above the ground to prevent moisture absorption from the soil.

Applying Sealant

Applying a sealant is an effective way to protect cedar from moisture damage. Choose a high-quality sealant specifically designed for outdoor wood protection. Before applying the sealant, make sure the cedar surface is clean and dry. Apply the sealant evenly, covering all exposed areas of the wood. This protective layer will create a barrier against water infiltration and help prevent rot.

Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is key to preserving cedar and preventing rot. Perform routine inspections of your cedar projects to identify any signs of decay, insect infestation, or fungal growth. Promptly address any issues you find to prevent further damage. Additionally, regularly clean your cedar surfaces to remove dirt, debris, and mildew, which can contribute to rot if left unattended.


Cedar is a remarkable wood choice for outdoor projects due to its natural beauty and resistance to decay. However, to ensure its longevity, it is crucial to understand the factors that can lead to cedar rot. Moisture, fungal growth, and insect infestation are the primary culprits that compromise cedar’s durability. By taking preventive measures such as proper installation, applying sealant, and performing regular maintenance, you can protect your cedar from rot and enjoy its beauty and durability for years to come.

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Tom Hiddleston is a renowned expert in wood appraisal and a skilled craftsman with a wealth of experience in the woodworking industry. With over 20 years of experience, Tom has established himself as a leading authority in the field of wood identification, grading, and evaluation.

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