Cypress – “The Wood Eternal”
Cypress has earned the distinction of being known as, “The Wood Eternal.” The Southern Cypress Manufacturers Association’s 1938 handbook titled, Tide Water Red Cypress, eloquently describes its durability:
For over a thousand years, the original massive Cypress doors of Saint Peter’s Church in Rome swung on their hinges. They were still in a perfect state of preservation when replaced with ornamental bronze.”
In fact, recent Cypress log excavations discovered sound wood buried over 100,000 years ago along the U.S. Atlantic Coast. The handbook, which makes for very interesting reading and I highly recommend, also references the termite resistance of the wood:
Cypressene—the essential oil of Cypress—makes Cypress highly repellent to termites. Cypress timbers in 300-year-old Spanish buildings in Florida have resisted termites, while connecting timbers of other woods were destroyed.”
Goodwin uses Cypress and pine for both interior and exterior applications. The Villages, a retirement community in Florida, features Goodwin’s Cypress and pine exteriors on one of their recent projects, Brownwood. The logs on the cabin, the posts in front of the plants and the bandstand ceiling are all heartpine. The bandstand benches, the cabin doors, and other siding are heart Cypress.
The exterior of the Goodwin showroom features treated heart Cypress boards. The Menil Collection, a museum in Houston, Texas originally designed by Renzo Piano, used Cypress wood from Goodwin for restoration work throughout both the interior and exterior.
The 2001 pamphlet by McReynolds Architects, titled, The Menil Collection – Exterior Wall Renovations, further explains:
The wood is extremely durable, light, soft, straight grained with a soft amber or reddish hue and easily workable, . . . Its resin is insect resistant, and it is very stable in contact with soil or water, tending to resist all forms of rot…Cypress works well with both hand and power tools . . . Although Cypress is resinous, it glues well, sands easily and accepts finishes without a problem.”
The publication goes on to further explain:
Cypress is very versatile. Architectural uses include paneling, moldings, window frames, gutters and doors. It is weather resistant and is often used for decks, siding, shingles and general millwork.”
Even with the durability of Cypress, we still recommend incorporating a design that limits excessive contact with water. You can leave the wood bare, but many prefer to use one of the more popular finishes. Bleaching oil can also be used for a weathered look. Unprotected Cypress naturally ages to a weathered gray.
Pecky Cypress is another intriguing variety commonly used for interior paneling.
Interested in incorporating “The Wood Eternal” into your home or office? One of Goodwin’s friendly experts will be happy to help determine which Cypress options will best fit your project!
- Images of Brownwood: Properties of The Villages
- Menil back entrance: www.bluffton.edu
- Menil facade: www.menil.org