Even as new high-tech siding materials flood the market, Chuck Harris of the Southern Cypress Manufacturers Association, www.cypressinfo.org, says homeowners continue to treasure the inherent beauty of nature’s purest building material, genuine wood.
“When homeowners are first acquainted with cypress siding, they are immediately impressed with its rich grain and texture,” he explains. “They like it even better when they learn that, unlike pressure-treated wood or composite materials, cypress is innately durable thanks to a preservative oil that nature itself puts into the wood.”
Architect Frank Harmon of Raleigh, N.C., agrees and says cypress possesses many qualities he prefers in a material that will be exposed to the elements. “Cypress weathers well, resists decay, and is friendly to the touch,” he notes. “Used in siding applications, cypress will easily last 100 years with proper care and maintenance.”
Harmon became familiar with cypress as a building material as a teenager, when he began studying Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture. “Wright was a master at using natural, unfinished cypress in his iconic houses – inside and out,” he says. “He used cypress like Rembrandt used oils, except his canvas was architecture.”
Cypress is at home at the beach and in the suburbs
Cypress has always been an architectural fixture in the hot, humid and salty coastal towns along the southern Atlantic, but these days, builders and trade professionals from Maine to California are using the native southern wood to imbue their homes and buildings with an authentically organic style.
Cary Tamarkin, a Manhattan-based architect, designed his family’s beach house on Shelter Island, N.Y., almost exclusively with cypress, incorporating exterior cypress siding and decking, as well as interior paneling, ceilings and structural beams.
“Since it’s a waterfront site, I decided to use cypress for its natural decay resistance,” Tamarkin explains. “The combination of strength, beauty and resilience in different kinds of climates and weather is unmatched.”
While cypress readily accepts paints and stains, Tamarkin chose not to apply any finishes to his home’s siding. Instead, he left the wood in its natural state, a decision that was endorsed by one of his cypress suppliers who said there wasn’t anything that could be done to make it look more beautiful. For Tamarkin, that means, “no finishes whatsoever; it’s all turning a beautiful silvery gray.”
For an award-winning house in Asheville, N.C., architect Rob Carlton selected cypress siding after considering several other wood species. “Cypress’ tone, grain and all of its natural characteristics made the decision easy,” Carlton says. The mountain retreat features cypress siding arranged in horizontal and vertical tongue-and-groove patterns, with contrasting paints and stain finishes to harmonize the mix.
The rustic charm of cypress also created a signature look for a contemporary log home designed by Cincinnati architect John Senhauser. Although he initially considered cedar and pine for his client’s urban hideaway, he ultimately settled on cypress because of its superior water and insect resistance. “From my experience, cypress is easily milled and finished, and the quality of the material is excellent,” he adds.
Ready to build your dream home?
Cypress siding can complement any architectural style and is widely available in the most popular patterns, such as bevel, shiplap, tongue and groove and board-and-batten. To learn more about the versatility, durability, and beauty of cypress siding, visit www.CypressInfo.org.