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I'm replacing the railings on a balcony and have a choice between using cedar or a pressure treated pine. The railings will be painted, so will end up looking the same in either case.

I'm looking for advice on which will last longer and give me fewer headaches in the future.

The railings are in an area that gets a lot of full, southern California sun.

The pine is less expensive, but not enough for the size of the job to matter relative to the labor involved.

The cedar looks like it has a better finish -- the pine will have to be sanded before painting.

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    A railing (no ground contact) in southern California (It never rains in Southern California...) probably isn't going to have a huge moisture problem to deal with anyways. So I'd go with the option that's easier to finish and more dimensionally stable (which is likely the cedar). – DA01 Aug 22 '14 at 5:06
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Interior? Exterior? I'll assume exterior, since you're even considering pressure-treated wood. Cedar generally stands up to weathering considerably better than untreated pine does - hence the cedar siding & roofing all across the USA, but treated pine weathers reasonably well, too. It does like to split a little. Either will require careful priming with shellac before any painting... except you can't paint pressure-treated wood for about the first year after installation.

Last... this is for a working handrail? Based upon nothing other than the fact that a pressure-treated splinter in the hand is worlds away more painful than a cedar splinter in the hand, there's just no question: go with the cedar.

  • Good point about painting the pressure-treated pine! – mike Aug 22 '14 at 4:28

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