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Choosing Wood Species For Carriage Doors: Examining Cypress

Choosing Wood Species For Carriage Doors: Examining Cypress

Choosing a facing material for your exterior wood entryway and garage door is an important decision from an aesthetic and performance standpoint. This series of articles will highlight some of the most common wood species that are suitable in the construction of exterior doors. There are several species of wood that have natural properties that make them more suitable in the construction of garage doors and other outdoor applications.

We are taking a detailed examination of the most common wood species specified by architects in the construction of custom wood carriage garage doors, examining in detail the use of Cypress.

CYPRESS (Taxodium distichum)

Cypress trees are conifers, i.e., softwoods, but unlike most American softwoods, these trees are deciduous in that they shed foliage in the fall like hardwoods. The only other softwood that does that is Larch (also called Tamarack). Although Cypress is a softwood tree, it has traditionally been grouped and manufactured with hardwoods. The simple a reason for that is that is grows alongside hardwoods.

Cypress trees are well known as ornamentals, but the trees are commercially valuable too. Cypress is a naturally decay-resistant wood and its uses reflect that, where it is a popular choice for building construction, posts, beams, decks, docking, porch flooring, greenhouses, siding and stadium seats. Cypress is also used to make caskets, doors, blinds, sash and other types of millwork. Because of its water-tightness, it is also used for cooperage, shingles, in tanks, vats, ship and boat building and to make railroad cars. Fine grain Cypress is used to make custom cabinetry.

Cypress is a yellowish-red color, often considered almost salmon colored in appearance. The color of the wood is somewhat determined by the growth area. Many experts believe that wood from the southern, swampy areas is darker in color than Bald Cypress, which is grown on dry land. Some Cypress features light streaks on a darker background. When freshly cut, the wood has a sour odor that it loses. It will not stain or add taste to things stored in Cypress vats.

Cypress is gaining in popularity primarily because of its durability and its flexibility to be used in many of the same products as Cedar and Redwood. In the Southeastern United States, Cypress “competes” with Southern Yellow Pine. For example, Cypress is specified in the building codes on Hilton Head, S.C., where architects began using it for its distinctive look and its durable nature.

The durability of the wood comes from  a natural preservative manufactured during the growth of Cypress. Another reason for its popularity is that the lumber can be easily painted. In tests of paint retention, Cypress qualified as one of the woods that can hold paint longer. The tests show that Cypress is an economical wood to paint because of its high paint retention. Unpainted, the wood will last for hundreds of years. The wood does not normally check or warp.

Moderately heavy, moderately hard, strong and moderately stiff. Outstanding durability rating in conditions favorable to decay.


Cypress thrives in the South especially in wet, swampy areas. The main species in North America is Taxodium distichum, but others of note include pond cypress, Taxodium ascendens, and Mexican or Montezuma cypress, Taxodium mucronatum.

Cypress roots love water. Some trees growing on wet sites develop what is called Cypress “knees,” which are really pneumatophores. The knee-like upright growths

come from the roots. The knees help to support the tree and aerate the waterlogged root system. The wood from the knees is soft and light and can be used to make vases and novelty items.

Cypress trees often have buttresses. Trees cut for commercial lumber are often sliced above the base where swelling occurs. The swelling is common in trees that grow in swampy areas and acts as extra support for the tree.


Cypress are tall trees, with heights up to 145 feet. The average weight is 32 pounds per cubic foot with a specific gravity of .42.


If you are seeking to find suppliers of Cypress, Wood Finder has a list on their website, which may be found at this link: