Redwood Vs Whitewood
Whitewood is a faster growing timber and is usually found in wet climates like the UK and Ireland.
Due to the speed in which the tree grows this has an effect on the grain of the timber resulting in less but more spaced-out rings.
Whitewood has less rings in its grain and you will find the rings to be more spaced out resulting in a less dense timber and another noticeable characteristic of the timber is that it’s much lighter than timber with more rings.
The downside of this is that whitewood is softer and more vulnerable to the British climate.
We all grew up being told the if you count the rings inside a log this will tell you the age of the tree, well that is a fact the more the rings the older the tree.
Redwood what is it? Well redwood can often be confused with redwood from places like California’s redwood forests, this is a completely different timber and has huge differences in its characteristics and most of all cost this redwood is very expensive.
The Redwood you will find in the Timber building industry throughout Europe is mostly from places like Sweden, Scandinavia, and Norway.
Like whitewood this is also a softwood but slower grown in much colder climates, Redwood has much tighter growth rings which results in a greater density creating a more stable product with less tendency to bending, warping and twisting.
Let’s think about the tree and how it grows? A tree’s goal is to grow and reproduce therefore has to compete with other trees for its resources like water and sunlight, the roots take care of searching through the soil to collect as much water and nutrients as possible and the tree itself needs to grow as tall as it can to ensure its leaves have as much exposure to the sun’s rays as possible.
During the summer months trees have plenty of sunlight and can grow at astonishing rates but in the winter months the sunlight is less and the water that the roots is searching for is normally frozen, this is when the tree will stop growing and tighten up its grain to survive temperatures as low as -40 degrees C.
So now we know the above, this tells us is that in warmer climates the tree is free to grow most of the year and therefore become taller quicker with one growth ring per year trees can mature in less time, whereas colder climates the tree has to suspend its growing for the extreme winter months and re-start its growing when the sunlight returns much slower growing but still a growth ring per year the rings are much tighter (less growth between each ring)
Sorry for rambling on its fascinating the life of a tree there is a lot more to it, but I hope I have given a small understanding to how the timber grows.
Back to it Redwood or Whitewood and what this means to my building?
The main differences will be the Cost, Longevity and Aesthetics.
Let’s start with Longevity, in an ideal world we would all like our buildings to last forever unfortunately this is impossible as all timber will decay at some point.
Redwood as mentioned before is a stronger timber but still prone to decay but has more growth rings and tighter fibres than white wood and therefore takes longer to decay the timber fibres so may last longer.
When choosing the thickness of the walls of your building don’t just think the thicker the better, think Longevity as thicker timber will simply last longer as its more mass to decay.
Longevity is also affected by preservatives used either during the construction of the building or after installation by means of pressure treating or by painting, this can pre-long the life of any building by tens of years and can be repeated at regular intervals.
Whilst longevity can be a deciding factor when choosing a garden building cost can also have an impact on your decision making, its quite simple the thicker the timber the more expensive it will be, and Redwoods will cost more than Whitewood.
The only other factor could be its aesthetics as redwood has a more defined grain in the timber which stays fresher for longer and tends to darken over time bringing out the grain in more detail.
White wood will pretty much stay the same colour and the surface of the timber will fur up with age making it more important to keep it painted on a regular basis.
OK I still haven’t answered the question which is best???
Whilst Redwood lasts longer than white wood its not always the best choice for all types of buildings, for all cladded buildings like sheds and stables Redwood will always be the best choice but in Log Cabins Whitewood can be just as good due to its thickness, the benefits of redwood depreciate as the logs are thicker they are stronger so the need for a finer grain becomes less and the cost element becomes a huge factor when costing a building that has a wall thickness of 44mm to 70mm.
Also a Log cabin is a huge investment that you will want to protect so treating the building becomes more important and is usually treated with a far superior product with multiple coats making Whitewood Log cabins very cost effective.