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What Is Cypress Lumber?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 27 March 2014
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Cypress lumber is lumber made from cypress trees, usually trees in the genus Taxodium, which includes trees known as pond cypress, red cypress, bald cypress, and yellow cypress. This lumber product is sometimes available at lumberyards and through sawmills, and it can also be ordered directly from companies which specialize in providing cypress lumber. There are a number of settings in which this lumber can be appropriate.

Cypress has a very fine grain, and when newly milled, it is a rich golden color. Some people treat it with varnish to retain this color, while others may opt to paint and stain the wood. Cypress takes paints, stains, varnishes, and other treatments very well. It is also possible to leave cypress lumber untreated to naturally weather, in which case it will eventually take on a gray color.

This wood is well suited for construction because it naturally resists insect pests and decay thanks to oils present in the wood. It is also a very durable wood product. For these reasons, cypress wood is often used in outdoor installations such as shingling and siding. It can also be used for structural beams, and in the construction of things like boats, in which case it may be finished to keep the wood in good condition.

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The shrinkage rate of cypress varies, depending on the species being used and the environment. As a general rule, before using cypress in construction, the wood should be allowed to sit on a raised platform for several weeks in the area where it will be installed. This allows the wood's humidity to reach a state of equilibrium with the environment so that any shrinking or swelling will occur before the wood is installed. This reduces the risk of warping and other problems which can occur when wood which is not properly seasoned is installed.

In addition to new cypress lumber, some companies also sell reclaimed cypress lumber. Reclaimed cypress is taken from structures being torn down. This wood is naturally weathered and fully usable. Some people like to use it for its historical value or aged look, while others may like the opportunity to recycle wood, rather than cutting down new trees. Reclaimed lumber can include everything from rough hewn beams to finished siding. People who are interested in recycling lumber can also ask regional contractors about the possibility of buying wood through them, as some contractors are willing to set wood aside during teardowns if they know that someone wants the lumber.

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