PROS: Cypress varies in color from cream to golden brown. Over time cypress may amber slightly. It has a fine texture with frequently occurring knots. The grain structure is small, tight and closed. The grain pattern is straight, but has the occasional swirls through it. Cypress is a very hard softwood. It is as hard as cherry. If you have never seen Australian cypress, you may get it confused with knotty pine. The earthier tones make Australian cypress distinct. Its beautiful brown coloring doesn’t need to be stained. It holds nails well. Australian cypress is also termite resistant. Australian cypress has very low shrinkage. It is a durable wood that is used both in residential and commercial applications.
CONS: Australian cypress can be brittle so be careful when nailing that you don’t split the wood. Australian cypress is an oily wood. After you sand, you do not want to wait and let your floor acclimate. The oily substance in the wood is sap or resin. You want to coat it quickly as to not let the natural resin rise to the surface and seep into the coating.
This is a knotty wood. Knots tend to move and shift with time. This means that your finish may possibly peel or separate from the surface of any knots in your floor. It is also possible that you may experience minor cracking around the knots. Knots are the strongest point of the wood itself. However, around the knots, the wood is fairly weak. Knotty wood is beautiful but don’t expect the knots to remain perfectly problem-free. Australian cypress may have some adhesion problems with the finish in contact with the knots in the wood. Finishes typically do not adhere well to knotty areas. A good test is to coat a small knot in finish and try and scratch it off. If it scratches off, it is not a good finish. Basic Coatings makes Hydroline Sealer, which is a water-based floor sealer. Bona Kemi makes Pacific High Build Sealer and Bonaseal. These finishing products work well with Australian cypress.
Knots contain sap. Sometimes the sap will rise to the surface of the wood. An oil finish will not even dry on a resinous area of your floor. Typically, an oil finish will just sit on top of the sappy area. This means that an oil finish will have little or no adhesion to the knotty area of your Australian cypress flooring. Stay away from high gloss finishes. Near the knots, a high gloss finish will appear wavy. Sometimes a large knot will have cracks through it. If it seems like the crack is big or will grow overtime, don’t use that section of floorboard. It will only cause aggravation later!
Also, the dust has a strong “piney” smell. Some people are allergic to it. Wear a mask. Also, if the dust comes in contact with your skin, you may possibly have a reaction. It is best to wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. If you come in contact with the sawdust, you may experience redness on your skin and sneezing. Don’t worry because the scent dissipates fairly quickly. If you have concerns about the sawdust, get the prefinished Australian cypress pine so you won’t have to deal with sanding it.
If you go with the unfinished, keep in mind that when you are sanding Australian cypress, you need to change your sandpaper frequently. The reason why is because it is a sappy wood. The more friction you create sanding it, the more the resin will warm up. The resin has the propensity to gum up your sandpaper, which you obviously want to avoid.
TREE FACTS: Cypress is a species of pine. Cypress grows in the eastern states of Australia, primarily in New South Wales and Southern Queensland. Similar to jarrah, Australian cypress is also a protected species. The Australian government has a Farm Forestry Program that specifies logging practices of Australian cypress. In overseas markets, Australian cypress is valued for flooring and wall panelling.