Is Cypress A Hardwood? (How hard is Cypress?)

is cypress a hardwood

Cypress is a popular choice in making boats, siding, posts, and many other interiors and exterior woodworking projects. It is commonly distributed in the Southeastern United States. When I was working with Cypress for exterior applications, I was surprised by its great qualities and wondered, Is Cypress a hardwood?

Cypress is not a hardwood. Cypress is a softwood. Cypress has a hardness rating of 510 lbf (2,269 N) which is higher than most softwoods. Cypress belongs to the softwood family, but it has some hardwood properties as well. Even though Cypress trees are conifers, they’re deciduous and shed leaves in fall like hardwoods.

But there’s more to know about the hardness of Cypress than just that.

In this article, we’ll explore Is Cypress a hardwood and how hard is Cypress by taking its characteristic qualities with pros and cons. Plus we’ll talk about how strong Cypress is with its uses.

Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about the hardness of Cypress compared to other popular wood types as well.

Let’s get going.

How Hard Is Cypress?

Cypress is softer than most hardwoods and softwoods. According to the Janka hardness ratings, Cypress has a hardness rating of 510 lbf (2,269 N) which is significantly less than most of the woods that we use for construction projects.

But Cypress is grown along with hardwoods, and it is grouped, manufactured with hardwood species, therefore even though it is considered a softwood it has some exceptional hardwood qualities that are useful in any woodworking project. Not like other softwoods, Cypress is graded by the rules of the National Hardwood Lumber Association as well.

Even though Cypress trees are conifer-like all other softwoods, there’re some exceptions. Cypress conifer trees are deciduous, and they shed leaves in the fall like hardwood trees. As you can see Cypress is a softwood only by its structural properties. Other than that, it grows like a hardwood by shedding leaves in fall, growing along with hardwood trees, grouping, and manufacturing with hardwoods.

As a result of that, Cypress softwood is equipped with some great hardwood features as well. It has been used for both interior and exterior woodworking applications, not like most other softwoods.

Because of having less hardness and density, Cypress is easy to work with. It is so rare to see wood having properties of both hardwoods and softwoods while having good workability. Therefore, Cypress is like a universal wood for woodworkers which teaches lots of stuff about woodworking. Cypress is harder than pine but soft enough to machine easily.

Janka hardness rating is a standard method of measuring the resistance of wood against wear and dent. If a particular wood has high wear and dent resistance it is considered a wood with a high hardness value.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, Cypress has a hardness rating of 510 lbf (2,269 N). Here’re the hardness ratings of popular wood types to get an idea about how hard is Cypress compared to them.

Wood speciesHardness value
Brazilian Walnut3,684 lbf (16,390 N)
Red Mahogany, Turpentine2,697 lbf (12,000 N)
Brazilian Cherry, Jatoba2,350 lbf (10,500 N)
Golden Teak2,330 lbf (10,400 N)
Hickory, Pecan, Satinwood1,820 lbf (8,100 N)
Hard Maple, Sugar Maple1,450 lbf (6,400 N)
White Oak1,360 lbf (6,000 N)
Ash (White)1,320 lbf (5,900 N)
American Beech1,300 lbf (5,800 N)
Red Oak (Northern)1,290 lbf (5,700 N)
Yellow Birch / Baltic birch1,260 lbf (5,600 N)
Teak1,155 lbf (5,140 N)
Black Walnut, North American Walnut1,010 lbf (4,500 N)
Cherry995 lbf (4,430 N)
Black Cherry, Imbuia950 lbf (4,200 N)
Red Maple950 lbf (4,200 N)
Douglas Fir710 lbf (3,158 N)
Silver Maple700 lbf (3,100 N)
Hemlock540 lbf (2,402 N)
Black Spruce520 lbf (2,313 N)
Cypress510 lbf (2,269 N)
Redwood420 lbf (1,868 N)
Engelmann Spruce390 lbf (1,735 N)
Sugar Pine380 lbf (1,690 N)
White Pine380 lbf (1,690 N)

As you can see Cypress is softer than most the hardwoods and softwoods. It has less density as well. But it has become one of the most versatile woods in the world because of some unique qualities.

So, let’s find out the characteristic features of Cypress to become one of the most superior wood types on the planet even with less hardness value.

Characteristics of Cypress Wood

Cypress is a light yellowish-brown wood with white sapwood. It can be found in wet swampy areas. Cypress is a softwood but grown alongside hardwoods and grouped and manufactured with hardwoods.

It has a straight grain with a medium texture. When we look at the end grain, resin canals cannot be seen, and the diameter of the tracheid is distributed largely. Not like many other softwoods, Cypress has good rot resistance and decay resistance. This is because of having hardwood properties.

When it comes to workability, Cypress is easy to work with. Softwoods are generally easy to cut, nail and screw. But make sure to use sharp cutters and light pass with Cypress. Nailing, finishing, and paint holding properties are great.

Cypress has a distinct characteristic odor. Therefore, make sure to open windows in the room when you’re working with Cypress to avoid breathing problems.

Cypress generates a chemical itself called Cypressene. It helps the wood to protect against environmental elements and makes the wood decay, rot, and insect resistant. This chemical is only contained in Cypress and therefore it has added advantages compared to other wood types. The above resistances of Cypress are really important, especially in outdoor woodworking applications.

Because of the above unique qualities, even though Cypress is considered a softwood it has some exceptional qualities even hardwood cannot achieve.

Here’re some top characteristic qualities of Cypress.

  • Softwood
  • Decay resistant
  • Rot-resistant
  • Insect-resistant
  • High workability
  • Distinct characteristic odor

Here’re the main characteristic features of Cypress.

ColorLight to yellowish-brown
Density0.46 kg/m3
Wood TypeNorth American Softwood
Hardness510 lbf (2,269 N)
Stiffness1.44 Mpsi
ApplicationsInterior and exterior constructions, boatbuilding, docks

So, let’s find out the advantages and disadvantages of Cypress according to the hardness factor.

Pros and Cons of Cypress

ProsCons
SoftwoodDistinct Odor
High workabilityPoor density
Rot-resistant 
Decay resistant 
Insect-resistant 
High durability 
Affordable 

As you can see disadvantages of Cypress are almost negligible compared to its advantages. Cypress is a versatile softwood with great woodworking qualities. Personally, one of my favorite woods.

What Is Cypress Used For?

Cypress use for both indoor and outdoor woodworking projects due to its exceptional hybrid qualities of hardwoods and softwoods. Some of its uses are as follows,

  • Boats
  • Flooring
  • Posts
  • Paneling
  • Plywood
  • Pilings
  • Roof shingles
  • Furniture
  • Boxes
  • Crates
  • Water tanks
  • Other construction projects

How Strong Is Cypress?

Cypress is a moderately strong wood. even though it is considered softwood, Cypress has high durability. The compressive strength and bending strength of Cypress are significantly higher than most of the hardwoods and softwoods.

The compressive strength and bending strength of Cypress are as follows,

  • The compressive strength of Cypress is 6,360 psi
  • The bending strength of Cypress is 10,600 psi

As you can see bending strength of Cypress is significantly high and therefore, it has great flexibility and is useful in flexural applications like boatbuilding.

So, let’s discuss some frequently asked questions regarding is Cypress a hardwood compared to other popular wood types.

Is Cypress Harder Than Pine?

Cypress is harder than Sugar Pine and White Pine. But Yellow Pine is harder than Cypress. Both pine species and Cypress belong to the softwood family. But when it comes to the woodworking world, Cypress is a more versatile wood than pine wood because of its hardwood qualities.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Cypress and Pine is as follows,

Wood TypeHardness
Cypress510 lbf
White Pine380 lbf
Sugar Pine380 lbf
Yellow Pine870 lbf

Is Cypress Harder Than Oak?

Oak is harder than Cypress. Both red Oak and White Oak are harder than Cypress because Oak is 100% belongs to the hardwood family and hardwoods are mostly harder and denser than softwoods.

But there’re some occasions Cypress is more useful than Oak because of its hybrid qualities of softwoods and hardwoods. It is a more lightweight and durable option than Oakwood.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Cypress and Oak is as follows,

Wood TypeHardness
Cypress510 lbf
Red Oak1,290 lbf
White Oak1,360 lbf

As you can see, Oak is more than twice as much harder and denser than Cypress.

Is Cypress Harder Than Cedar?

Cypress is harder than Cedar. Even though Cypress and Cedar belong to the same softwood family, both western Red Cedar and White Cedar are softer and less dense than Cypress.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Cypress and Cedar is as follows,

Wood TypeHardness
Cypress510 lbf
Western Red Cedar350 lbf
White Cedar320 lbf

Therefore, Cedarwood can be easily replaced with Cypress with better durability and weather resistance.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Is Cypress a Hardwood?

In this article we have deeply discussed is Cypress a hardwood and how hard Cypress is by taking its characteristic qualities, pros, and cons in terms of hardness.

Cypress is a versatile softwood that contains lots of hardwood properties. Generally, softwoods don’t suggest for outdoor applications. But because of having a unique chemical that protects Cypress from insect, rot, and decay, Cypress is undoubtedly one of the best woods for exterior woodworking applications like exterior columns.

Furthermore, we have discussed how strong Cypress is and answered some frequently asked questions regarding is Cypress a hardwood compared to other popular wood types as well.

Hope you have gained pretty good knowledge about the hardness of Cypress and why it is so important in the woodworking world. So, let’s begin your next woodworking project with all the information you gathered about Cypress wood. Have fun in woodworking!

Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him!

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