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Cedar Closet Benefits

Branch from the Eastern Red Cedar used for cedar closets

How and Why You Should Add Cedar Closets to Your Home

Cedar has long been the wood of choice for storing clothes and any type of fabric. Cedar chests/trunks have been around for ages as well as aromatic cedar sachets designed for tucking into drawers and corners. It has a pleasant, clean fragrance that repells moths and other insects. Cedar also has a drying effect and will help prevent mold and mildew from forming. It is the "natural," organic solution to protecting fabrics like wool and is preferred by many homeowners over pesticide or chemical treatments. Closets can be made completely from cedar as well, but it has to be the right variety of cedar. The best type of cedar used for closets is juniperus virginiana, known as red cedar, eastern red cedar, Virginian juniper, eastern juniper, red juniper, pencil cedar, and aromatic cedar. Growing this wood for closets and furniture is big business in the Appalachians of the United States.

Along with recent trends towards organic produce and other natural solutions, cedar closets are growing in demand. They are one of those home improvements that can add value at resale, especially among environmentally conscious consumers.

closet lined with cedar
This custom closet with closet organizers is completely lined with cedar paneling to repell insects and keep clothes fresh.

If you have a freestanding or wardrobe style closet, the entire closet including walls and shelves will most likely be made from cedar, just like a piece of furniture. For a built-in closet, however, the aromatic cedar wood is best used to line the walls and sometimes the ceiling of the closet. You do not need to use it for the shelves or closet organizers as long as the walls are covered. It can be used in this manner with equal success in walk-in closets and reach-in closets.

    How to Add a Cedar Closet to Your Home:

  1. Choose Your Cedar Wood: Cedar is available as individual planks or large particle board panels from your local lumber yard or home improvement store. The planks feature a tongue-and-groove design which is attractive and easy to install, but relatively expensive. The particle board panels come in large 4 foot x 8 foot sheets and are much cheaper, but also less attractive. Both materials are about 1/4 inch thick. For an area with high visibility such as an entryway closet used by guests to hang their coats, most people will opt for the more expensive planks. Use the panels in areas where you are not very concerned about appearance. Basement and garage cedar closets are nearly always done with particleboard panels. For some people, the panels might also be used in the bedroom closet because you won't see much of the back wall once all the clothes are hanging in front of them.
    Cedar planks versus panels
    Cedar planks are made from knotty wood and are much more attractive than cedar particle board panels.
  2. Start with a clean slate. It is best to tear-out/remove the exisitng closet cleats, rods and shelves before attempting to install the cedar. You can save these components to reinstall after the cedar has been added if you want. Once you are working with blank walls it is relatively easy to cover them with the cedar.
    Remove cleat from closet
    Remove cleats, rods and shelves before installing cedar backing to closet.
  3. Cover the Walls with Cedar: Cover the walls with cedar planks or cedar chipboard panels — which ever you have decided to use. Many people like to cover the ceiling as well, but this is optional. The planks are usually tongue-in-groove and install like flooring against the walls. Nail every panel to the studs rather than using glue so that the wood can still expand and contract without weakening the installation. Keep in mind that the cedar is not structural and does not need to provide any support to the closet. If you are using planks, they can be installed vertically, horizontally, on a diagonal, or even in a decorative pattern like herringbone. The designs are limited only by your imagination. Be sure to leave cut-outs for the light switches or any windows. Do not coat the cedar with polyurethane or any type of finish when you are done. The wood needs to remain in its natural state in order to be effective.
    Cover the walls with cedar planks or panelling
    The walls in this room have been covered in cedar planks in preparation for the cedar closet.
  4. Install Closet Rods and Shelves: You can install your closet organizers, rods and shelves right over the cedar wall in the same manner that you would if it was drywall. The wood and laminate closet components can be the same color as the cedar, but they also look nice in a contrasting color like white or black. Remember that the cedar does not provide support for your closet. You will still have to anchor and secure your closet, whether it is rail or cleat installation, into the wall studs.
    cedar closet with cedar planks
    Cedar planks installed on and angle make a design statement in addition to offering protection for clothing in this closet.
    cedar closet with cedar particle board
    Cedar particle board, sometimes referred to as flakeboard or chip board provides the same protection against insects and moisture as cedar planks at a much lower cost.
  5. Optional Drawers: Your closet drawers can also be be lined with cedar to further protect the folded knits stored within. Drawers can either be manufactured with cedar bottoms or you can purchase a drawer liner that gets inserted into the bottom of the drawer.
    Cedar drawer liner
    This drawer bottom is made from 1/4 inch thick red cedar.

Today's home buyers are more environmentally conscious than they were years ago. Recent scares about cancer causing pesticides and herbicides have increased interest in natural, organic solutions. Cedar closets have increased in popularity as a result. The environmentally friendly wood is a very sustainable, renewable resource. The Eastern juniper/red cedar is a pioneer species, which means that it is one of the first trees to repopulate cleared, eroded, or otherwise damaged land. Source: Wikipedia contributors. (2019, July 10). Juniperus virginiana. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:26, September 13, 2019, from

Cedar closets have several benefits. Just as with other closet organizer systems, they be the deciding factor when buyers are looking at multiple similar homes and drive sales. Cedar will reduce moisture content and deter damaging insects, offering protection to fabrics. These benefits are best realized when the closet also includes a tight fitting door and no window. Bifold, louvered and other loose fitting doors weaken the effects of the cedar. Time will also decrease the effectiveness of cedar, however, this can be countered by lightly sanding of the surface of the cedar periodically, keeping the fragrance fresh. A properly installed cedar closet will offer a lifetime of protection to your clothes and other items stored in your closet. Used since the time of the ancient Egyptians, its use goes beyond trends and will never go out of style. Overall, a cedar closet is a lasting, sound investment for your home and future.

Note: Although cedar makes one of the best closets you can get, don't use it for fur storage. The cedar wood tends to absorb moisture making it very difficult to maintain to optimal humidity required by fur garments.

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Cedar closet benefits are readily apparent in this closet.
Cedar planks cover the walls in this closet and contrast nicely with the white laminate closet organizers. Closet drawers feature 1/4-inch thick cedar bottoms to further protect folded knits and silk scarves. See more from this designer >

Very tiny walk-in closet with custom closet organizers for small closet storage.close up of cedar drawer
This 360 organizer rotating closet system includes drawer boxess with bottoms made of red cedar to protect sweaters and knits stored in the drawer. See Project >

The benefits of a cedar closet include long term fabric protectionThe benefits of a cedar closet include long term fabric protection
This custom closet organizes everything beautifully while also protecting the owner's delicate and expensive fabrics. Bright white laminate was used as a dramatic, yet classic, accent to the knotty red cedar walls. The result is an study in contrasts, with the smooth, modern, white laminate against the the rustic, natural cedar panels. See more from this designer >

cedar closet for master bedroom
This cedar closet is divided down the center by a penninsula that divides the space into his and her sections. The space is optimized so that both partners can store all of their fine woolens and natural fabric clothing without fear from insect attact. The bright white laminate contrasts with the red cedar panels in an attractive and practical manner, providing abundant storage for these homeowners. See more from this designer >

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About Closet Works

Closet Works is a proud member of The Container Store family of companies. Since 1987, we have been helping homeowners in the Chicago area by creating closets, pantries, office/guest rooms, wall units and more that help create a better, less stressful lifestyle. Great ideas to "Organize Your Life" and examples of our organized bedrooms, closets and other custom organization systems can be found throughout our website. For more information on Closet Works call toll-free at 800-425-6738.
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