Overview of our Perspectives and Woods
A source of expertise in milled wood siding
There’s a number of companies that offer milled wood siding, but very few with our experience. For almost 50 years, we’ve been serving architects and designers with custom milled options and other exterior wood products. We appreciate your consideration. On this page, you can get our take on things, and since we’ve been around a long time, there’s a lot. Feel free to scan or scrutinize.
Our key business elements: Sustainable premium woods and exceptional custom milling
What is Sustainable?
99% of our wood stock is from sustainable sources, meaning that it is from certified, managed forests, or reclaimed from previous applications. We promote and champion the best selection of sustainable products, because that’s our long view, but we do source other wood when necessary.
This word, like organic, is compromised by marketplace forces, powerful interests and manipulation. The reality: many lumber companies tout sustainability, using that terminology and some certification to appeal to customers. Thats then allow them to seem ‘green’ and sell unsustainable old growth and tropical woods.
Managed or Reclaimed
At White Cedar Lumber Company, we don’t source or recommend old growth woods like Red Cedar, Douglas Fir or Alaskan Yellow Cedar if they’re not reclaimed. We go the extra mile to offer truly sustainable options. We also don’t source or recommend Teak, Ipé, Mahogany and other tropical hardwoods, unless reclaimed. And we hope that you understand why and join us in our effort.
Protecting Rain Forests
These woods are being cut from old-growth forests and jungles where some trees may be over a thousand years old, and healthy. Unless harvesting removes no more than 1/1000 of a given forest, without damage to the existing ecosystem, it has long term negative impact.
Old Growth History and Supply
In colonial times, we cut Eastern White Pine and sent it to England for ship’s masts as the ‘King’s Pine’. Between 1880 and 1910 we cut over 100 million acres of Heart Pine (or Longleaf) forests, and then severely impacted the Cypress, Redwood, and Douglas Fir in the 20th century. These old-growth forests and their remarkable ecosystems are gone now, and they can’t grow back. The last great North American old-growth forests are just what remain of Red and Yellow Cedar trees in the Northwest.
Earth’s limited resources
Along the way, many lumber dealers have supplemented aesthetic hunger, ‘luxury’ needs, with imported Teak, Mahogany, and most recently, Ipé. This is short-sighted, a little selfish, and most of us know better. But because there’s such a design appetite, and money to be made off these special and finite resources, purveyors claim sustainability by manipulating certification programs. They then market wood from our world’s last remaining old-growth forests to consumers who may know better, but then compromise.
Join our greater effort
We choose to be a part of efforts that help our planet; to offer options that have less negative impact. It’s not an easy path, but we look forward to helping others appreciate and integrate truly sustainable woods. Join us, and for interior applications, consider North American hardwoods and Heart Pine for woodwork. There are many strong, beautiful woods with excellent character and grain figuring. And if you seek a different or exotic look, then staining or dyeing is a sensible, responsible option for achieving desired colors and aesthetics.
The exterior applications are more difficult, since very little can truly replace Teak or Ipé in terms of hardness, decay resistance, and stability. In some cases, White Oak or Black Locust are good options, and otherwise, White Cedar may be the right choice. A very old Japanese wood charring process, Shou Sugi Ban, creates a beautiful dark surface, achieving weather resistance while maintaining sustainability.
Reclaimed woods, like former water or wine tank Redwood and Red Cedar, or river-recovered Cypress, provide distinct, inventive and attractive solutions. Ask us about our options.
We stock great new woods from managed forests and have an unmatched collection of reclaimed woods that are time-tested and ready to be custom-milled. We are passionate about trees, wood and providing materials that will help our customers achieve responsible beauty and strength in their projects.
OUR EXTERIOR WOODS
White Cedar Lumber Company specializes in Atlantic White Cedar Siding and Cypress Siding. We also offer other sustainable, harvested local hardwoods such as White Oak and Black Locust. We carry rare reclaimed stock of old-growth woods including Wine Tank Redwood, Coney Island Boardwalk tropical hardwoods.
Atlantic White Cedar Wood
Architect Wil Armster started Wood, Steel & Glas after a Yale forestry professor suggested he use local white cedar wood for design, instead of redwood and red cedar. This was long before ‘local’ was a trend and Wil became enamored with the wood’s numerous qualities, for interiors and exteriors. Its beauty, aromatic smell, stability and work-ability were all attractive. And certainly its natural resistance to decay and insects, and the classic silver-grey color it gained when weathered was .
Northern White Cedar Wood
Also known as Arborvitae (Tree of Life), this tree ranges between Southeastern Canada west to Minnesota and south in the Applachians from Pennsylvania to Tennessee. It’s been a famed local favorite for millenia, providing natives with medicine and canoe wood. It’s very close in dynamics to Atlantic White Cedar, but has a better ability to withstand colder temperatures. They are not related.
Cypress Wood (Bald Cypress, Swamp Cypress)
In the early to mid-70s, Cypress was seen as interchangeable with White Cedar. In time, it proved slightly less stable in exterior design than the nearly impervious White Cedar. Cypress is still a core species for protected exterior applications and benefits from finishes. With its intriguing grain patterns and warm tones, Cypress remains a cherished interior wood. Recently, with the charring technique known as Shou Sugi Ban, exterior designs are increasingly viable.
All the Redwood we supply is old-growth and reclaimed. We utilize our unmatched network to secure Redwood from decommissioned water and wine tanks, pickle vats, docks, decks, bridges, fencing and other sources. We even reclaimed shelving from an MIT think tank. It is very special wood. A beautiful palette, decay resistant, stable, light and unmatched. It’s perfect for siding, indoor and outdoor furniture, railings, paneling, cabinetry, doors and windows.
Old Growth Red Cedar Wood
This is all reclaimed, and much is untreated utility poles from power companies that we fought to save from landfills. It’s complicated and often we lose, but sometimes we win and get enormous girths up to 30” across. We have other sources for reclaimed Red Cedar, but getting the poles is doubly rewarding. Excellent for pergolas, trellises and exterior timbers.
Old Growth Cypress Wood
Our cypress is either river-recovered or reclaimed from former vinegar and pickle tanks. Like our Redwood, the Cypress is exceptionally beautiful and excellent for both exterior and interior uses. It is available in Clear Vertical Grain, Clear, Pecky and Knotty grades.
Old Growth Douglas Fir Wood
The variety of our sources speaks to the versatility of this remarkably strong and often colorful wood. We source from vinegar and pickle tanks, sunken pilings, heavy timbers and even bleacher seats. It’s ideal for millwork, flooring, porches, exposed timbers, and some exterior applications.
Reclaimed Tropical Hardwoods
We’ve secured most of our stock after major storms or de-commissions. Our Ipe, Greenheart, Cumaru and Ekki comes from Coney Island and Rockaway boardwalks in NYC. We also sourced material from Atlantic City and the South Street Seaport. This remarkably dense, heavy and hard wood is graded ranging from near-new to heavily distressed conditions. It’s great for a range of applications, both functional and decorative.
White Oak and Black Locust Woods
These are the two most decay-resistant, sustainably-harvested hardwoods in the Northeast. Though not often available in tropical hardwood grades and dimensions, in some applications they perform exceptionally well. They’re worth serious consideration, especially for tensile strength and a hardwood aesthetic.
Heart Pine Wood (Yellow Pine or Longleaf Pine)
Our Heart Pine is mostly reclaimed from century old factory timbers, and it was often that old when felled. Though not typically thought of as an exterior wood, there is perhaps no better wood for restoration. You can re-create doors, windows, floors, paneling, millwork and more. Like most of the reclaimed wood we supply, the best is straight-grained, exceptionally stable, and all heartwood. We just milled 30,000 square feet of reclaimed heart pine for the Park Avenue Armory in NYC, a famous performance space. This was likely the largest reclaimed restoration project in the US.