What do Noah’s Ark and the original doors of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome have in common? According to legend, both are reputed to have been made from cypress wood.
Cypress is an ancient wood, nicknamed the “Eternal Wood”, and is often referenced down through history. The Roman poet Horace felt that anything worth preserving for posterity should be encased in cypress wood. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote that the Egyptians used cypress to entomb their mummies. Plato, the great philosopher, insisted his code of laws be engraved on cypress wood.
Nothing compares to the natural beauty and durability of cypress wood for furniture, flooring, siding and decking. It is said that the doors of the original St. Peter’s Basilica were more than 1,100 years old when the building was torn down and reconstructed in the 1500’s. A favorite building material of Frank Lloyd Wright, cypress graces the floors, walls and cabinetry of many of the famous architect’s creations. Versatile and beautiful, cypress is a woodworker’s dream and offers a variety of advantages. And despite the modern developments and advancements in lumber and construction materials, cypress still enjoys a prominent place in today’s woodworking.
People who work with cypress regularly say the wood’s natural durability is a plus for exterior applications. Because cypress generates cypressene, a preservative oil, its heartwood is naturally resistant to insects, decay, chemical corrosion and other damaging elements. Cypress is an exceptionally stable wood, which makes it highly resistant to splitting, twisting, cupping and warping. Often compared to teak in outdoor performance, cypress is less expensive, sports its own natural beauty and requires less maintenance. Dimensional stability enables the wood to readily accept paints and stains, although many people select it for the natural appeal of its honey-like hues, which can be maintained with a clear sealer or permitted to weather to a pewter grey.