It seems that we are in need of some education about this beautiful and versatile wood. Please be advised, that no trees were recently cut down in order to provide me with this pecky for the Cypress Cottage. Some of these cypress trees, as old as 300 years, can sit on the bottom of a river or bayou after having strayed from the lumbermen. In the case of this wood, The Miller, husband to DS, finds old cypress trees that were felled by natural causes and pulls them out of the river. He then mills them into usable lumber.
But let’s talk about the cypress on the wall where someone pointed out that the old wall can be seen through the holes. I could have painted the wall a brown color first, but I am very lazy, so I didn’t do that. The Miller tacked the boards up and told me I could remove them, paint behind them, and put them back. I’m way too lazy for that. So, Heather Here and I took the lazy gals’ way out, and we painted the wall behind the holes with little paint brushes!!
Now, EPB, you can’t see the blue walls peeping out through the holes. I should have waited and posted photos after we had done that step, but I was so anxious to post them, that I jumped the gun! Forgive me!
The only thing I am going to do to all of these raw boards is put a clear satin poly something or other on them to protect them and bring out the grains a little more. There will be NO PAINT applied to these boards.
So, this is what we call “pecky” cypress. This effect is produced by nature and has widely been misunderstood.
This eating away of the wood, giving it a three-dimensional look–is caused by a fungus called “polyporus amarus”. I don’t quite understand it, but supposedly the fungus enters the living three through some sort of damage–broken limb or burnt bark from lightning perhaps. It is said that the pocketing and striations occur while the tree is alive; and once it is cut down, the fungus can no long survive or cause any more of these formations in the wood.
Now, this is a closeup of the wood on the bar. This is also pecky cypress, but this wood does not have as many striations in it as the wood on the wall.
Cypress was used in South Louisiana for home building years ago because of its natural ability to repel insects, like the termite that is prevalent here in our humid climates. The wood has a very close grain, and even in its natural state after milling (meaning no paint or varnish) it can remain solid without rotting for many years. This is true, because the Cypress Cottage is at least 80 years old. While recently pressure washing it, the old paint blew right off, leaving bare wood exposed, and it looks like it might have just been nailed up.
And then there’s cypress planks like these, which are in the back bedroom on one wall. This wood is a lighter color with beautiful grains running throughout. There is only slight pecking in a couple of places.
And then there is cypress that is totally solid that can be either stained or painted. Cypress was used for the beams, sills, rafters, the siding, flooring, cabinets, tongue and groove beadboard for the walls, and more. I guess you could say it was a wood for all purposes back in the day.
But over the past 50 years, we’ve come to realize what a valuable resource cypress swamps are. We no longer harvest them as in the days of old. They are valuable to the swamp and marsh eco-systems. They also help protect us from hurricane-driven tidal surges and wind. They are anchored deep into the bottom lands by their very sturdy and intricate roots called “cypress knees”, which can be seen in my banner photo. More about that another day.
I hope this helps clear everything up.
Stay tuned for photos of the Cypress Swamp Room!!!!!!