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Spanish Cedar Buying Tips

What to do when you need Spanish Cedar

With the constant changes surrounding the Spanish Cedar market, sourcing this species has become increasingly difficult. For those who still want to use Spanish Cedar today or aren’t sure what to use in the wake of its reduced availability, the following tips are for you.

Plantation Considerations

The way you’re using (or used to using) Spanish Cedar is key in determining whether it’s in your best interest to purchase Plantation Spanish Cedar (and which variety) or an alternative species, altogether. While still part of the same genus, African-grown Cedrela fissilis, huberi, and ororata don’t have quite the same properties as the species naturally growing in South America. The kind of Spanish Cedar that will work best for your project will depend on whether you’re planning to use the wood for interior or exterior applications, whether you plan to paint or stain the wood, and the width and length your project requires.

As a general rule, African Plantation Spanish Cedar from the Ghana is better quality, with fewer knots and potentially as wide as 6 feet, while wood from Spanish Cedar plantations along the Ivory Coast tends to be narrower, with widely spaced growth rings and inconsistent grain. The lighter coloring and lower density of Ivorian Cedar, along with frequent Pin knots, makes it difficult to plane without producing tear out, which makes it less resilient to the elements. For that reason, we recommend using Spanish Cedar that comes from the Ivory Coast for only painted, interior projects. Even still, if your application requires wide pieces, you may have difficulty with Ivory Coast Spanish Cedar. For any plantation-grown Spanish Cedar, proper drying is key, or the wood’s instability will make this resinous species virtually unusable.

Pricing Clarification

Unlike many species, price is no longer a determinant of quality when it comes to Spanish Cedar. Many dealers, either purposefully or unwittingly, fail to communicate the difference in quality to customers who order Spanish Cedar. While the knowledgeable staff at J. Gibson McIlvain regularly makes sure customers are aware of quality differences between the difficult-to-obtain South American Spanish Cedar and the African plantation variety, many suppliers do not realize the difference, making it possible for the ordered shipment to arrive at job sites, unable to be used for siding, moulding, or other projects in which either appearance or durability is key.

Alternative Options

For ideal appearance and consistent widths of over 6 feet, South American Spanish Cedar is ideal. Unfortunately, you’ll need a hefty budget as well as generous lead times in order to possibly make that happen, particularly for large or detailed orders. Instead, you may want to consider Utile or Sapele, both of which are denser, heavier and less expensive species than Spanish Cedar. Both of those species are ideal for door and window manufacturers. If lightness is a concern, however, Fiji Mahogany may be your answer. This paint-grade plantation-grown Genuine Mahogany comes in generous widths and lengths.

Contact the knowledgable wood experts at J. Gibson McIlvain for advice regarding the best types of wood for your projects.

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