Northern White Cedar is authentic cedar
Northern White Cedar and Western Red Cedar have been grown, harvested, and used throughout North America for centuries. Both species are naturally rot and insect resistant and have earned reputations over hundreds of years for excellence in outdoor applications such as fencing, shingles, decking, arbors, and gazebos. Over the past forty years these authentic cedars have also been a preferred choice for premium outdoor playsets.
Starting around 2005, however, wooden outdoor playsets began to arrive in bulk from China. Initially these playsets were marketed as made from "China Fir" which is the common name for Cunninghamia Lanceolata, a species native to China. Soon thereafter, marketers changed the name for this same wood to "Chinese Cedar" to piggy-back on the reputation of authentic North American cedars. Eventually, marketers dodged the association with China altogether and began to simply call it "Cedar". But this so-called "cedar" is not cedar and is certainly not the same as North American cedars.
Such deceptive labeling comes at a cost to consumers who pay for a "cedar" playset expecting to get the quality of authentic cedar but don't. And it comes at a cost to the authentic cedar lumber mill owners and employees whose products are cheapened by association with "cedar".
So, if you see a playset that is made from wood generically called "Cedar", you can safely assume that it is made in China from Cunninghamia and you can value it accordingly. But, if you want a playset with all of the historic qualities of authentic cedar, read carefully to make sure that it is made from Western Red Cedar or Northern White Cedar.
CedarWorks outdoor playsets are only made with naturally long-lasting, splinter-free Northern White Cedar.