Incense Cedar fence pickets, rails and posts are one of the most durable and decay-resistant of native American woods. It is produced from a forest tree found in California, southern Oregon and western Nevada. Incense Cedar is generally known in the lumber industry as one of the twelve woods of the Western Woods Region
Incense Cedar’s botanical name is Libocedrus decurrens. Under average conditions, mature trees are 20 to 30 inches in diameter and 75 to 110 feet in height. The trees can grow up to 150 feet tall and six feet in diameter. The tree is rarely found in pure stands but generally grows intermingled with Ponderosa Pine, Sugar Pine, Douglas Fir and White Fir. We are still harvesting old growth Incense Cedar for fence products today. This is critical as we get plenty of the good heartwood.
Incense Cedar is a very handsome tree of columnar or pyramidal form usually growing on mountain slopes from 2500- to 7000-foot elevations. This form makes it an exceptional choice for fence pickets providing very straight and clean grains in the pickets. Trees at maturity have a rapidly tapering trunk with a buttressed, fluted base.
The wood of Incense Cedar is non-resinous. Sapwood is white or cream colored and the heartwood is light brown or light reddish-brown. Texture is fine and uniform with small, evenly arranged cells. The wood has a spicy odor characteristic of all cedars.
Perhaps its outstanding characteristic, and one which leads to its widespread use in a variety of lumber products, it is exceptional resistance to decay and high durability when exposed to weather. The Forest Products Laboratory classes Incense Cedar with woods that hold stain the longest and suffer least when protection against weathering becomes inadequate.
Second only to decay resistance in lumber importance is the high dimensional stability of Incense Cedar. Its volumetric shrinkage when dried from a green state down to 12 to 15 percent moisture content is only 3.8 percent-close to the bottom of 3.4-6.6 range of commercially important softwoods. This is critical for fencing as it is the least likely of all cedars to shrink. No one wants a solid cedar privacy fence that has shrunk leaving large gaps between the pickets.
The ready to be stained and the smooth, silken surfaces to which Incense Cedar is machined combine to form handsome fences. The wood may be painted or stained in any of the vast variety of finishes in the modern painter’s color array. Fence contractors, DIY stores, carpenters, architects, and homeowners hail it as one of the finest fence products available.