It’s one of the most rot-resistant timbers you can get your hands on.
And yet, when it comes to outdoor furniture, Cypress rarely gets a look in ahead of the more popular Cedar and Teak wood.
Still, is there any real merit to choosing Cypress wood for your next garden furniture set? Or is this straight-grained lumber simply all hype…
Well, in this post, you’ll learn what the difference is between first and second growth Cypress — and what this means for this woods durability. You’ll also discover what makes Cypress one of the most naturally rot-resistant timbers.
This post may contain affiliate links to products that we receive a commission for (at no additional cost to you). Learn more here.
How Well Does Cypress Wood Hold Up Outside?
It depends if the Cypress wood comes from a first growth tree. First growth wood, (also known as old growth wood), comes from trees that have had a long time to grow.
Trees that grow for a very long while, generally grow more slowly. As a result, they have extra time to form very dense grain.
This increased grain density makes first growth wood more rot-resistant. And this is true of most types of lumber, not just the Cypress tree. However, for a North American tree species, Cypress wood is impressively impervious to decay.
Nonetheless, the heartwood section of first growth bald Cypress in particular is astonishingly rot-resistant.
But, it is worth noting that second growth Cypress wood isn’t as rot-resistant as first growth Cypress.
What Is Second Growth Wood? Second growth wood comes from trees that have grown up in a forest after first growth trees have been logged.
And How Long Will First Growth Will Cypress Wood Last Outside?
If you use Cypress wood for above-ground structures, it can last up to 40 years.
However, for in-ground building work such as foundations, it’ll last for around 25 years.
Is Cypress Really Rot Proof? Or Does It Need To Be Treated?
Cypress wood doesn’t need any wood preserving treatment.
Wood treatments involve infusing wood with chemicals that act like a fungicide. And these wood preservatives prevent the growth of the bacteria responsible for wood rot.
However, Cypress wood has a unique characteristic to it in that it has its own natures-own wood preservative. This natural preservative, called Cypressene, builds up inside the heartwood of the tree.
The combination of high density and Cypressene, means that rot and bugs struggle to eat their way through Cypress heartwood.
So, while you could treat Cypress wood, it wouldn’t give this particular timber any extra rot-resistance.
Does That Mean Cypress Wood Is Waterproof?
Cypress wood is rot-resistant, but it isn’t waterproof.
Water can still soak in through the small wood pores of this lumber. And if Cypress manages to take on enough water, then it can succumb to warping issues.
However, this tends to be more of a problem with less dense second growth Cypress wood. So, you will need to seal and finish Cypress wood outdoor furniture.
Does Cypress Weather And Darken When Outside?
Without a UV-inhibiting treatment, this timber will turn an ashy gray color within 2-3 years.
This is because of something called oxidization. The suns UV rays are incredibly intense. So much so, that they’re capable of breaking down the chemical bonds of organic compounds.
And as woods organic compounds changes under the intensity of sunlight, it can change the color of wood itself.
Discoloration is common when it comes to outdoor furniture (that’s been left unsealed). Teak wood outdoor furniture, for example, will also turn gray without a UV blocking top coat.
And What Can You Do To Prevent Cypress Wood From Weathering?
Well, you need to use a sealer that waterproofs as well as blocks UV rays. It also needs to be durable too, so that it doesn’t wear off due to rain and humidity.
Which is why Spar Urethane, (also known as Yacht Varnish), is perfect for outdoor garden sets. It’s easy to apply, it’s waterproof, and it’s so durable that it only needs to be reapplied every 5 years or so.
Which is why this exterior sealant is used not only on outdoor furniture, but on fencing and boat decking too.
And one of the best Spar Urethane finishes on the market is Rust-Oleum’s Oil-Based Ultimate Spar Urethane.
Rust-Oleum’s clear oil-based finish can be used on garden furniture and garden fences alike. It dries in under 2 hours, so you won’t need to wait long to start using your garden set.
To Wrap Up, Here Are The 3 Key Takeaways From This Post…
- 1). First growth Cypress heartwood is incredibly rot-resistant and bug-resistant.
- 2). However, second growth Cypress wood isn’t as invulnerable to decay.
- 3). Cypress wood can turn an ashy gray color due to UV-damage.
Bald cypress and pond cypress: an annotated bibliography, 1890-1995 | LSU Agricultural Experiment Station Reports
Taxodium | Wikipedia.org