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If/How to Finish Cypress for Ourdoor Bench

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Forum topic by BigMig posted 07-10-2016 01:43 AM 516 views 1 time favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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BigMig

385 posts in 2081 days


07-10-2016 01:43 AM

Topic tags/keywords: cypress spar poly polyurethane

Hi team,
My neighbor was getting rid of an old bench in his back yard…cast iron sides with wood slats for seat bottom and part of the back. Well, I took it and used the old wood parts for templates and measures.

First – I decided to use cypress for the wood. It’s pretty cool; affordable ($9 for a 4/4×6” x10’), and even considering knots, it’s pretty wood. Not super hard, not very dense – so it’s light, but I chose cypress because it’s supposed to be rot resistant. I’ll find out, I guess.

I’m not sure if I want to finish it with something – like some protectant, or just let it weather. Are there good poly/spar, etc. options for a totally outdoor piece like this? Or should I just “go” with the natural aging and graying of the cypress.

Thanks in advance to everyone for your thoughts and opinions.

-- Mike from Lansdowne, PA


19 replies so far

View oldwood's profile

oldwood

56 posts in 711 days


#1 posted 07-10-2016 02:31 AM

Unless you want to refinish on a regular basis don’t try any of the clear varnish type finishes. They just won’t stand up to the suns rays. If you really want a clear finish use one of the natural color deck finishes. They are easy to apply so when you need to renew its not a big chore and they look nice on the cypress.
On a side note. Cypress was once called the “eternal wood” because of its rot resistance but there’s not much wood of that quality around anymore. The only wood of that quality left is sinker cypress that is pulled from the bottom of rivers and bayous and you will pay dearly for it but it is beautiful.

View bosum3919's profile

bosum3919

338 posts in 1087 days


#2 posted 07-10-2016 03:05 AM

Mike, I have a home built with cypress logs with the interior finished in cypress as well. Once every two years I spray the outside with a clorox solution to kill any mildew. I then apply Thompsons Water Seal. Been doing this for the past eight years. It works well and would work for your project as well.

Oldwood, we still have an abundance of cypress here in East Texas and Louisiana.

-- Bob

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Tideline77

58 posts in 239 days


#3 posted 07-10-2016 03:59 AM

Sikkens

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5765 posts in 954 days


#4 posted 07-10-2016 04:14 AM

Have a nice stack of 4/4 old growth cypress that was passed down to me. Love it.

As bob said, fairly common down here (LA). There aren’t too many porch swings around here that aren’t made of cypress.

Spar varnish would probably last a good while.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View bosum3919's profile

bosum3919

338 posts in 1087 days


#5 posted 07-10-2016 04:28 AM

Just as a side note, I know a man who makes his living cutting and selling cypress knees. He cuts around 200 at a time. Boils them in a large tub, strips the bark off and takes them to craft shows. He gets anywhere from $15 – $75 a piece for them, depending on size and character. My wife has bought a bunch of them.

-- Bob

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mahdee

3555 posts in 1235 days


#6 posted 07-10-2016 01:36 PM

Zahr outdoor poly works great. The wood has to have some sun exposure on a regular basis for Zahr to work. I sprayed a wind catcher 2 years ago with it and still looks like the day one. I had a similar situation like yours with a cast iron bench. Replaced the slats with 1X treated wood.

-- earthartandfoods.com

View Tideline77's profile

Tideline77

58 posts in 239 days


#7 posted 07-10-2016 02:26 PM

When I lived in Colorado at 8000’ all the log home builders used Sikkens to seal and protect from the high altitude sun. Not sure what they use nowadays. This was on the 90’s
I built a house in Florida in 2005 and used Sikkens on the exterior rough sawn board and batten, brush on two coats all by my self….
It held up great and didn’t need another coat for 7 years

You ever brush 4000 sq ft of rough sawn cypress with a 4” brush ?

It will not be clear , because it has an amber tint

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a1Jim

115207 posts in 3045 days


#8 posted 07-10-2016 03:39 PM

Cypress is one of the woods that will hold up well without a finish at all.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Juggler's profile

Juggler

19 posts in 153 days


#9 posted 07-10-2016 07:43 PM

I have a friend that is pulling up some 200 year old cypress logs from the ocean floor. I can probably get a hold of some of the lumber he yields from the saw mill he uses. The question is what kind of projects would be good use for it? All I can think of is outdoor furniture like Adirondack chairs and tables. Does it make sense for indoor furniture? I haven’t even looked at the figure of cypress, just wondering what you guys think.

-- DJB

View bosum3919's profile

bosum3919

338 posts in 1087 days


#10 posted 07-10-2016 09:22 PM



I have a friend that is pulling up some 200 year old cypress logs from the ocean floor. I can probably get a hold of some of the lumber he yields from the saw mill he uses. The question is what kind of projects would be good use for it? All I can think of is outdoor furniture like Adirondack chairs and tables. Does it make sense for indoor furniture? I haven t even looked at the figure of cypress, just wondering what you guys think.

- Juggler

Different strokes for different folks. While cypress is not normally considered for fine furniture, I have used it for that. Almost 10 years ago, I built 2 desk from cypress and trimmed them with walnut. They are heavily coated with poly to give them more hardness as cypress is a medium density wood at best. I have also used it for kitchen cabinets and doors, a large bookcase, and an entertainment center and paneled my walls with it as well.

-- Bob

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 170 days


#11 posted 07-11-2016 02:42 AM

I grew up in La, an old timer in the cypress business told me a cypress tree had to grow for 75 years before it acquired the rot resistant properties its know for. That’s why good cypress is hard to find he says. Young cypress is not as rot resistant.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View Rick M's profile

Rick M

7935 posts in 1848 days


#12 posted 07-11-2016 03:01 AM

Heartwood is rot resistant, sap wood is not.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2200 posts in 948 days


#13 posted 07-11-2016 01:45 PM

Most of the cypress you see is “pond cypress”, not old growth or heart cypress. It will not hold up to weather in a horizontal application like a deck or bench.

All of the heart or old growth cypress is harvested from river bottoms in the south and can demand high prices depending on the width.

That being said, any wood, if sealed, coated well, and maintained, can hold up outdoors.

I would look into a clear deck sealer and cover with marine varnish.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View BigMig's profile

BigMig

385 posts in 2081 days


#14 posted 07-12-2016 05:07 PM

Thanks to everyone for your ideas and support.

There are 2 schools fo answers:
1. No finish – just let it age OR
2. Finish with one of these: Sikkens , Thompson’s water seal, Deck Sealer, Spar varnish, ZAR outdoor poly,

Hmmm, what to do (or not do)...

Thanks again !

-- Mike from Lansdowne, PA

View FLBert's profile

FLBert

21 posts in 205 days


#15 posted 07-12-2016 05:49 PM

My personal experience with outdoor finishes is anything that builds a film like poly just doesn’t last. It tends to delaminate and ‘peel’ after a year or two. An oil finish last longer and is easier to reapply (just clean, light sand if needed, and apply).

http://lumberjocks.com/topics/169858#

-- Bert, Lake City, FL

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