Redwood: Properties, Types & Uses

redwood types, properties and uses

It is a softwood species known for its amazing durability in terms of moisture resistance. Besides that, redwood trees are also famous for being among the tallest trees with an average height of around 300 feet. If you are curious about redwood, here’s everything you need to know about this popular softwood species, including its properties, types, and uses.

Despite being softwood, redwood is moderately hard and very durable. It’s also easy to work with and known for its awesome colors, ranging from light brown to red-brown, with distinct and attractive grain patterns.

What is Redwood?

It is a type of softwood procured from conifer trees in the sempervirens genus. The three major types/species of redwood include coast, giant, and dawn redwood. Other names for Coast Redwood include Sequoia, California, and Vavona (burl).

Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) is an exceptionally tall tree species found along the coastal regions of the northwestern United States. With trees reaching average heights of 200-300 ft and a trunk diameter of 6-12 ft, the heartwood of redwood is light pinkish to deep reddish-brown and has a straight grain with coarse texture. It is moderately hard (450 lbf Janka rating) and lightweight (415 kg/m3 avg. dried weight) and is considered durable against decay and insects. It is easy to work with both hand tools and machinery, though planing may result in tear-out, especially on figured pieces. It finds uses in versatile applications ranging from furniture and veneer to construction lumber, outdoor decking and furniture, musical instruments, and specialty items. Old-growth lumber is generally heavier, stronger, and more durable than second-growth lumber.

Interesting fact: The world’s tallest tree is a coast redwood. The Hyperion (tree) in California is 380 feet tall and is said to be 600-800 years old.

Redwood Properties

The physical properties of redwood comprise its appearance, strength, hardness, density, durability, and workability.

Tree specifications

Coast redwood trees are commonly found in the coastal regions of northern California. Giant Sequoias are native to the western Sierra Nevada mountain range. Dawn redwood trees are normally found in central China.

Coast redwood trees are the tallest among all species, with average heights of 150 – 250 feet. They have a lifespan of several hundred years. With a thick bark of over 1 foot, these trees are almost resistant to fire. The presence of tanning in the wood makes it immune to disease and insect attack. However, due to their enormous heights and shallow root system, these trees are generally prone to damage by high winds and floods.


The heartwood is usually light brown to dark reddish-brown, while the sapwood is white or yellow. Generally, Redwood has a straight grain, though wavy and interlocked grain is common in figured pieces. The texture is coarse. Burl or curly figures can be occasionally seen. The natural color of redwood is bright red, hence the name.

Like many other wood species, Redwood becomes darker over time and with exposure to sunlight and weathering. Some people might not prefer this and can follow regular maintenance and sealing to preserve the wood’s natural look.

The unique burl and growth ring patterns of redwood make the furniture look very attractive and premium.

Strength & Durability

It is a durable wood with a very long lifespan of hundreds of years. Objects made from redwood can be used for many decades without needing a lot of maintenance or care. The wood can resist general wear and tear and can withstand exposure to changes in the weather. The heartwood is also resistant to rot and moisture and can be used in exterior projects without easily damaging it. However, due to its soft structure, it might catch dents and scratches easily, so not recommended for flooring.


Redwood is generally very easy to work with. It can be used with both hand and machine tools. Cutting, sawing, and drilling are all very easy. Working with redwood saves time, which is one reason why woodworkers love this wood. Moreover, its light weight makes it easy to transport and move around. Care must be taken when processing the wood to avoid denting and scratching its soft surface.

Due to the high demand and versatile applications of redwood, it is generally more expensive than most softwoods. Moreover, due to the over-harvesting and exploitation of this species in the past decades, the population of redwood trees has depleted significantly, further leading to a rise in its price.

Redwood Uses

Due to its unmatched strength, appearance, durability, and stability, redwood finds applications in various projects. The most common application is in construction, where its long lumber is used for making beams and supports for buildings. The wood is also commonly used in plywood and veneer production, providing strong and large sheets of veneer for different projects.

It is resistant to moisture and can withstand weathering, which makes it an excellent choice for outdoor posts and decking. As a wood with high stability and natural resistance to insects and moisture exposure, it can be used in various exterior projects such as decking without chemical treatment.

It is also considered one of the best woods for exterior furniture because of its high durability and amazing appearance. Another common use is for trim and indoor applications. Since redwood is easy to work with tools, it can be carved easily to make attractive trim and crafts. The wood requires minimum upkeep and can be used for windows, doors, photo frames, and other general applications where clean and attractive wood is needed.

Burl and other figured pieces of redwood are used for making beautiful musical instruments. Redwood is also prized as a tonewood and used for crafting high-quality bodies for musical instruments like guitars, pianos, and soundboxes.

Other common uses of redwood include veneer, construction lumber, turned items, musical instruments, specialty items, beams, posts, outdoor decking, exterior furniture, and interior trim.

Types of Redwood

The three common types include coast, giant, and dawn redwood.

Giant Redwood

Giant Redwood, commonly known as the Wellingtonia or Giant Sequoia, is known for its massive tree size. Mainly found in the Sierra Nevada, the tree was originally discovered by Europeans in the 1850s. Some trees have been found to have a lifespan of up to three thousand years with heights of over 100 meters. While the trunk is stout, the bark is thick, soft, and spongy and protects the tree from forest fires and insects. Despite their strength and hardiness, the seedlings of Giant Redwood are known to have less weather resistance and might require specific conditions for optimal growth.

Coast Redwood

The Coast Redwood, also known as Sequoia sempervirens or simply “Redwood,” is the tallest among all redwood tree species, with heights going up to 110 meters in some trees. Native to California’s coastal regions, these trees are usually less broad than the Giant Redwood, but they are taller. Similar to the Giant, the Coast Redwood tree has a thick bark, which is firmer and protects it from wildfires. The Coast Redwood’s leaves are Yew-shaped and soft. The heartwood, which is light pinkish to deep reddish-brown, is known to be durable in terms of resistance to decay and insects. The wood has a straight grain and coarse texture and is used in applications ranging from construction to furniture and musical instruments.

Dawn Redwood

The Dawn Redwood, smaller than the Giant and Coast Redwood, is native to China. The tree, which was once believed to be extinct, was re-discovered in a Chinese village in the 1940s. It now grows in many parts of the world, distributed through seeds. A conifer (softwood) tree, it’s evergreen and has fine, flattened leaves similar to the Coast Redwood. The leaves of these trees turn bright orange in autumn, making them look breathtaking. The trunk is rather slim and straight, with upward branches forming a neat conical shape. This redwood species thrives particularly in watery areas.

Looking to buy redwood timber? Check out our official website for plenty of options to choose from. We have redwood available in various sizes and dimensions that can be shipped to your location anywhere in the world within days. Just open the website and contact us to enquire about availability and price in your region.