Redwood is a type of softwood that has a variety of uses. It comes from three species of trees which are all evergreen coniferous trees. Here we look at the various types of redwood, their qualities, and uses.
Redwood Lumber Qualities
Redwood lumber is strong and durable in the sense that it is resistant to daily wear and tear, and it holds up well against weather when it is used outdoors.
Since redwood lumber contains natural oils, which make it weather-resistant, this type of wood does not require frequent maintenance such as sealers or stains to protect it against rain and snow. Untreated redwood lumber can last well for over a decade outside with no maintenance at all.
The oils contained in the lumber of redwood means that it is able to naturally repel moisture. This quality means that redwood will not rot when left outside, even for long periods of time.
The natural oils present in redwood lumber are also great for deterring pests. Redwood is an ideal choice of lumber if you live in a region that is prone to termites, or it can be used to house furniture to repel moths.
Redwood can range in color from pale pink through to dark reddish-brown. These shades give the wood a warm appeal and a distinctive look.
Uses for Redwood
Redwood is known to be one of the best types of woods you can buy to use as decking. This is because redwood is strong and durable and will not warp or crack over time. It is also naturally water repellent and will not rot, even when it hasn’t been treated.
This means that although redwood decking may cost more than other types of decking, it is expected to last a lifetime and can therefore represent a better long-term value for money.
Redwood trees are huge, which also means that you can get long and straight planks to cover large areas. The look of redwood also makes for a luxurious deck that can add value to a home.
Indoor and outdoor furniture can be made from redwood. Sleigh-style beds are commonly made from this kind of wood and rustic style furniture for log cabins and cozy hideaways. The smell of redwood is very appealing and can make a room feel more inviting.
Redwood is also an excellent choice of material for outdoor furniture since it is moisture-resistant, rot-resistant, and pest-resistant. If you have a habit of leaving your outdoor furniture unprotected by a cover in adverse weather, then redwood is ideal because it stands up well against rain, snow, and UV light, even when it has not been maintained with a sealer.
The tight grain of redwood also makes for very attractive furniture, and the red tones can make for a warm atmosphere.
Redwood is an ideal type of lumber to use for trim because it is renowned for being straight. This is a necessary quality for trim, which can look unsightly if it bows or warps. Redwood can be used for internal or external trim around windows and doors. It is easy to cut, and it lacks knots which can lead to splitting and cracking.
Redwood is a popular material for siding homes because of its weather-resistant properties. Despite being more expensive than other types of woods, redwood will stand the test of time because it is largely unaffected by moisture. It repels water and will therefore not rot.
It is also a beautiful red-toned wood that can make a home look welcoming and attractive. Over time, exposure to UV light will make the redwood fade to an appealing silver shade.
If you need structural beams in a home which will be visible, redwood is an excellent choice because it is strong and attractive, therefore fulfilling the functional need as well as the aesthetic need. Redwood beams will not bend, warp, or twist, so they offer excellent structural integrity.
The appearance of redwood beams lends them perfectly to use in a ski chalet or cozy lodge where you want to create a rustic and warm atmosphere.
Redwood Lumber Grades
When you buy redwood lumber products, these will have been produced from the Coast Redwood trees since these trees possess sought-after qualities that make their lumber attractive from both a practical and aesthetic point of view. The grade of redwood you choose will be important because the usability of the lumber can vary hugely as a result.
Since the trunks of these trees can be enormous, there is often a huge difference between wood found in the center of the tree (heartwood) and wood found near the outside of the trunk (sapwood).
The heartwood is considered the best type of wood for use on outdoor furniture and other outdoor applications such as fence posts and decking. This is because the heartwood contains a high concentration of resin that makes it extremely resistant to decay.
If you will be using wood that is going to come into contact with the ground, and will therefore potentially be exposed to consistent moisture, then choosing heartwood is essential. This is also known to be the most durable type of redwood lumber.
Grades of heartwood will usually include the word ‘heart’ so that it is clear to consumers where the wood comes from. Examples include ‘heart clear,’ ‘deck heart,’ and ‘construction heart.’
The sapwood has a creamier color than the heartwood and is chosen for its visual beauty. It does not possess the same resistance to decay and pests as the heartwood, so it is not a good choice for outdoor projects which come in contact with the ground. Redwood will also be graded according to clarity.
Lumber that is free from knots will be graded as ‘clear,’ and it is this grade that is used for furniture, veneer, siding, and other projects which demand pristine-looking lumber. The most expensive grade of redwood is ‘heart clear,’ which is heartwood free from knots.
Other grades which are used in construction and decking can be ‘grade B,’ ‘merchantable,’ and ‘common.’ These grades are used in applications where knots or other imperfections are of no consequence.
There are three species of redwood trees which are all a part of the Sequoia genus in the cypress family (Cupressaceae).
Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum)
This tree is also known as the Giant Redwood. The species is known to be the oldest living organism on earth, with the oldest example having an approximate age of 3200 years. These trees are also the largest trees on earth, reaching impressive average heights of between 160 and 280 feet. Some trees of this type have been known to reach heights exceeding 300 feet.
This type of redwood has excellent resistance to rot and decay; however, it tends to be quite brittle, which means it is not used in construction.
The last lumber company which logged Giant Sequoia closed down in the mid-1920s, and since then, the tree has been primarily used as a tourist attraction in California, where it grows natively. This tree was believed to be well known by Native Americans but was officially ‘discovered’ by Europeans in the first half of the 19th century. It is now listed as an endangered species.
Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)
This tree is also known as the California Redwood and the Coastal Redwood. It is native to coastal regions of California and Oregon but has now become naturalized across much of the United States, as well as in New Zealand, where it was introduced over a century ago.
The tallest living tree on earth is a Coast Redwood, which stands at 379 feet in height. There are examples of redwoods that have trunks with a diameter measurement as big as 30 feet. Coast redwoods are also among some of the longest living trees in existence. These trees are grown for their lumber, as they are one of the most important sources of wood in the lumber industry.
Coast redwoods produce lumber which is known for its resistance to decay, strength, and lightweight quality. It was historically used throughout California for railroad ties or sleepers and is now more widely produced for use in decking, furniture, and posts. This is also a highly ornamental tree that grows fairly quickly and, as such, is a popular choice in parks and public green spaces.
Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)
This redwood tree is native to Asia and is considered an endangered species as a result of deforestation. As such, the Dawn Redwood has been widely cultivated in temperate regions across the world to save it from extinction. It has proven to be an adaptable species that grows well and quickly.
It is not used for lumber and instead is predominantly thought of as an ornamental tree. Despite reaching typical heights of 100 feet, this is the smallest of all the redwoods.