Benefits of Western Red Cedar for Pergola Design

western red cedar pergola built on a patio off the side of a brick house by a pool

Picture yourself sitting around a table with your family and friends, enjoying a home-cooked meal on a beautiful Oklahoma night. You look around at the smiling faces before turning your face upward. Through the slats of your pergola, you see the twinkling stars and take in a breath of fresh air.

A well-made pergola can be the perfect setting for a beautiful outdoor oasis. Not only does it provide shelter and shade, but it improves property value when done correctly. The proper building material can make or break your entertaining space. Wood is a popular choice for pergola design – with redwood, western red cedar, and pressure-treated wood being the most common materials. At Havenscapes, we prefer to build pergolas with western red cedar for a variety of reasons.


There are many types of cedar, but western red cedar is known as the best choice to stand up to the elements. Commonly used for outdoor projects, it naturally repels water and resists decay while being strong enough to stand up to strong winds. This durability also prevents it from warping as easily as other types of wood.


Warping isn’t the only concern when selecting a building material. Many types of wood will warp when subjected to excess moisture, especially when found in the atmosphere, like on a foggy day. Cedar has a low shrinkage factor and is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs or discharges moisture to stay in balance with the weather. These factors cause cedar to be very resistant to warping, twisting, and cracking. Essentially, they stay flat and maintain their original shape despite moist atmospheric conditions.


Using lightweight materials is not only beneficial for the building process, it can also make moving the structure easier. Western red cedar is much simpler to transport than many other wood types because of its weight. It typically weighs around 21 pounds per cubic foot after being dried. Considering the low density of 0.32, western red cedar is one of the lighter choices for wood.

Natural Insect Repellant

The natural oils in cedar help the wood repel fungus, many flying insects, and termites. While the smell of the oil is pleasant to humans, it warns insects of its toxicity. This is an environmentally friendly solution to bug repellant.


Appearance and design are important factors in any pergola build. Western red cedar is unique in that it can either stand on its own without finishing products or beautifully hold colored stains. In its natural state, western red cedar has a yellow undertone to the reds. The heartwood, or inner section of the trunk, can be anywhere from pale brown to dark brown, while the sapwood, or layer between the heartwood and bark, has a yellow-white color. Over time, the natural color can slowly incorporate silver hues.

The elegant appearance is enhanced with the natural grain texture. Stain, varnish, or paint aren’t necessary to protect the wood since western red cedar is resistant to the elements. If a finish is desired, the material’s rate of absorption is conducive to holding a range of semi-transparent to dark stains long-term.

If you’re looking for a pergola for your outdoor living space, our team can make your dream a reality. Our construction team can design and build the best shape and size pergola for your space, and our landscaping team can work with you to place it in the right location to overlook the scenery without compromising privacy. Contact us to learn more.