Cypress siding – often used in fine coastal and mountain resort homes, is the choice of quality builders and practical architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright.
Siding is the first thing your guests see when they approach your home and is the first line of defense to the elements of weather. Historically, many colonial homes were constructed of this material. Even 100 to 200 year old buildings that have out-lived their usefulness are providing reclaimed cypress usable for the next home. During the restoration of George Washington’s grandfather’s home many of the original Cypress siding and shingles were cleaned up and re-used. For about double the cost you can opt for salvaged cypress siding, which is up to 200 years old, and it’s more dense.
Cypress has natural preservative oil, cypressene, that means no further chemical treatment is needed unless the cypress lumber is in direct contact with the ground. The oils in cypress’ heartwood make it one of the most durable woods when exposed to moisture conditions causing decay, it’s also extremely resistant to insects. Cypress planes easily, it nails, screws, and glues well; it sands easily and readily accepts finishes. It is dimensionally stable and naturally resistant to splitting and warping. And, unlike pressure-treated lumber, cypress contains no arsenic salts, making it both environmentally friendly and safe for residential applications.
Cypress has a natural beauty, with a rich grain and texture. It has a light honey color that holds exterior finishes extremely well and doesn’t bleed tannins like Western Red Cedar and Redwood. Left unfinished, the wood will age to a soft, gray patina. Cypress will complement any architectural style from rustic to traditional and will dramatically add to the value of your home. If you’re looking for wood siding with the attributes of beauty and longevity then Cypress siding is the answer.
Grades and siding options
Grades to look for - #2 and better – the historic grade, featuring larger knots and rustic characteristics; offers more heart wood and therefore is a longer lasting wood. Selects – this is top grade material, mostly clear with the occasional knot. Cypress siding comes in bevel, board and batten, beaded bevel, and channel. You can choose the siding style that best compliments your home.
Cypress siding can be installed over standard sheathing material with a maximum stud spacing of 16 inches on-center. Siding may be applied over unsheathed walls if building codes permit. A suitable building or felt paper wind barrier is recommended and must be used where building codes require. Both rigid foam and foil faced sheathings can be vapor barriers.
Comparing cypress with pine and cedar
Cypress grows slowly, so the rings are much closer than in most wood species. These close rings make cypress more energy efficient, and decreased shrinkage makes it more durable and stable.
Pine grows quickly, which results in wider growth rings, and a more porous surface. This means treatment is required to prevent rot and insect attack. This porous wood stains through the face and with treatment becomes somewhat darker. Untreated material will stain deep toward the core leaving permanent marks and becoming subject to mold and rot. For this reason, natural weathering is not recommended. Wet pine is well known to shrink, warp, or cup substantially as it dries.
Cedar is a darker wood with heavy odor. A lightweight and porous wood, it weathers and absorbs treatment resulting in darker tones. Knots tend to be loosened after time and much more frequent than in cypress.
Advantages – Cypress is superior to pine and cedar with regard to decay and rot, weathering, durability, cracking, and stability. Though cypress is a bit more expensive the slightly higher cost is offset over time by less repair and maintenance.
Disadvantages – Other than the slightly higher cost over cedar and pine cypress has no real disadvantages.
For a consultation on cypress siding for your home please contact one of our prescreened, licensed contractors from the list below.
Helpful links about wood:
Often used in fine coastal and mountain resort homes, cypress siding can complement any architectural style, from rustic to traditional. It’s one of the most durable wood siding options and won’t break the bank, either. Here’s what you need to know.
Expect to pay around $2 per linear foot for a 1x6-inch panel. The total figure depends on the cost of installation, the size of your home and quality of materials used. Contact a professional in your area for exact cost estimates.
Extremely durable. Resistant to moisture, decay and insects.
Nails, screws, glues and sands well. Readily accepts finishes.
Cypressene, a natural preservative oil, keeps the wood in top shape with no further chemical treatment needed.
Can fade over time.
Requires sealant to keep it from splitting and warping.
Cypress is an extremely durable siding option, especially when compared to other woods. It can last for hundreds of years—even longer if properly maintained.
As with any wood siding, cypress requires some regular maintenance. If a transparent stain is used to allow the natural wood grain to show, it must be reapplied every 3 to 5 years—the same goes for a clear penetrating sealer. You should occasionally power-wash the siding (on a low setting to keep from damaging the wood), and clean with a mild bleach solution to do away with fungus and mold.
Common Questions and Answers
How should cracks in cypress be repaired?
Simply fill in the cracks with wood putty. If there is a large crack, contact a professional for advice.
What are the best cypress siding options?
It’s best to look for grades #2 and better. This is the historic grade that features larger knots and rustic characteristics. It also offers more heartwood, making it longer-lasting. “Selects” is another a top-grade material. It’s mostly clear with the oc
HistoryMany colonial homes were constructed from cypress siding, including George Washington’s grandfather’s home. Today, 100- to 200-year-old buildings that have lived out their usefulness are providing reclaimed cypress for the next lucky home.
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