Which Is Better For Staining: Douglas Fir or Cedar?

If you’re looking to stain your deck or fence, you might be wondering what the difference is between Douglas Fir wood and cedar wood. Both kinds of wood are popular choices for outdoor projects, but they do have some key differences that many people are unaware of.

The chief difference between Douglas Fir wood and cedar wood is their density – Douglas Fir is lightweight and easier to work with, while cedar has a much higher density and can be more challenging to saw or nail into.

Douglas Fir or Cedar

Staining Douglas Fir vs Cedar – What’s the Difference?

If you plan on staining Douglas Fir and cedar wood, that’s when you’ll notice how different they really are.

Douglas Fir is a softwood, which means that the wood fibers are more loosely packed together, making it easier to soak up stains and penetrate deep into the wood. Cedar is a hardwood, so it has much tighter wood fibers that repel stains and are more difficult to penetrate.

Let’s look at this in more detail.

Douglas Fir

Douglas fir is a type of softwood that is dimensionally stable, meaning it won’t warp or shrink as much as other types of wood. This makes it a good choice for larger projects like decks and fences.

The Douglas fir wood works well when stained and its finishes hold up quite well. It is also a very affordable option for outdoor projects, making it one of the most popular woods for deck and fence staining.

Douglas Fir or Cedar?

One downside of Douglas fir is that it isn’t always as durable as some other woods. It’s not a good choice if you live in an area with extreme weather conditions, as the wood can suffer from sun and water damage. Douglas fir also needs more maintenance than some other woods and can require more frequent staining to retain its color and appearance.

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Compared to Douglas fir, cedar is much denser, which means it’s harder to saw, nail, and drill in. Many people can find it harder to work with than Douglas fir, although it does have a number of advantages as well.

One advantage that Cedar has over Douglas fir is its durability. Cedar is naturally resistant to decay, rot, and insects, so it will require less maintenance than other woods.

Douglas Fir or Cedar?

Cedar is also rich in natural oils that help protect it from water damage, making it an ideal building material for areas with high humidity or rainfall.

Both Douglas fir wood and cedar wood make great choices for outdoor projects, but it’s important to consider their different benefits and drawbacks.

Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of each type of wood so you can make the best decision for your project.

Douglas Fir

  • Pros: Douglas fir is an affordable option for staining. It also absorbs stains well, so you’ll get good coverage with fewer coats.
  • Cons: Douglas fir is more susceptible to rot and insect damage than cedar. It also doesn’t hold up as well to weathering, so it may not last as long as cedar without proper maintenance.


  • Pros: Cedar is a durable wood that stands up well to rot, insects, and weathering. It also has a natural resistance to stains and UV damage.
  • Cons: Cedar is more expensive than Douglas fir. It also can be difficult to find in some areas.

Choosing a wood stain

When it comes to choosing a wood stain, there are a few things you need to take into account. First, what type of wood are you working with? Second, what look are you going for? And third, how much maintenance are you willing to do?

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Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors.

Type of Wood

The type of wood you’re working with is important because some woods are more absorbent than others.

Douglas fir is widely recognized for being a fairly absorbent wood, which means it accepts stains readily. Cedar on the other hand is less absorbent, so it can be more difficult to get an even coat of stain on this type of wood.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, then you may end up with blotchy-looking results when staining your wood.

Look & Feel

The look and feel of the finished project are another important consideration when choosing a stain.

Douglas fir tends to take on a reddish hue when stained, while cedar takes on more of a golden color.

If you’re going for a darker, richer look, then Douglas fir may be a better choice. If you want to bring out the natural beauty of the wood and create a lighter, more modern look, then cedar may be better.

If you’re unsure about which look you prefer, then you’ll be better off doing a small test on a small area of your deck or fence before committing to staining the entire thing.


The last thing you need to think about is how much maintenance you’re willing and able to do.

Douglas fir is a softwood, which means it’s more susceptible to scratches and dings than cedar. That being said, Douglas fir is also easier to sand and refinish than cedar – so if you’re okay with doing a little bit of work every few years, Douglas fir may be the way to go.

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If you want something that’s low-maintenance and will keep its good looks for many years without any effort on your part, cedar is probably the better choice.


The type of wood you choose will depend on a number of factors, including your budget, style preferences, and maintenance needs.

Whether you choose Douglas fir or cedar, remember that the key to a beautiful finished product is choosing high-quality wood and using a good-quality stain. With the right materials and a bit of elbow grease, you can create an outdoor project that will last for years to come.

Just remember some of the key differences between these two popular types of wood. Douglas fir is easier to work with and takes stain well, but it isn’t as durable as cedar and requires more maintenance. Cedar is more durable than Douglas fir, but it’s also more expensive and harder to find.

No matter what you choose, be sure to do your research first and consult with a professional if you’re not sure which type of wood is best for your project.