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, playset makers began to import wooden outdoor playsets in bulk from overseas. Initially these playsets were marketed as made from "China Fir" which is the common name for Cunninghamia Lanceolata, a wood species indigenous to China. Soon thereafter, marketers changed the name for this same wood to "Chinese Cedar" to piggy-back on the reputation of North American cedars. Eventually, marketers dropped the word China and began to simply call it "Cedar"
making it unclear that this was a different species of wood from Northern White and Western Red cedars. This new "cedar" is not cedar and is not the same species, or quality, 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 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.