Southern Cypress – Total Wood Species Guide

PROS: It looks like an old pine floor with slightly different coloring. It has a warm honey color with thin streaks of darker shades of reds and chocolate browns. Southern cypress has a fine, closed grain pattern that resembles feathers. It is a durable wood that is resistant to splitting and warping. Because it produces a material known as cypressene, which is an oily substance, it deters insects and resists decay. It is a slow growing wood which means that its rings are positioned tightly together. These close rings make cypress susceptible to very little shrinkage and also make it very dense. Physically, mechanically and with regard to design, southern cypress is pretty close to western red cedar. It is a very hard softwood.

CONS: It is a slow growing tree. It grows in swampy areas, making it difficult to remove. Sometimes getting the wood requires a helicopter. Clearly it is a fairly expensive, hard-to-find wood. As its popularity grows, modern methods are making it easier to obtain.

TREE FACTS: Southern cypress is also called North American cypress or bald cypress. As the legends go, Noah’s Ark and the first doors to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome were made out of cypress. Ancient Egyptians used cypress to make caskets for the pharos. Cypress is an old flooring material that has been replaced by oak. It was extremely popular in the colonial and Victorian eras in the United States. It was commonly grown in Florida, Louisiana and Georgia. Many people associate cypress with its use for exterior applications, but it makes for a nice floor covering. Cypress grows in protected wetlands where logging is prohibited or it grows in forests where it is selectively cut and given time to regenerate back naturally. This means that it is not widely available. More importantly, it makes for a sustainable wood floor. Because it is strong and durable, southern cypress has many outdoor applications like railroad tiles and fence posts.