Is Cypress A Hardwood or Softwood? — Compared to Cedar, Pine, Etc.

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Cypress is a wood that is extremely sturdy, long-lasting, and rot-resistant. These qualities make this particular type of wood perfect for use in heavy construction, as well as in the manufacture of boats, posts, bridges, piers, and doors. 

If you’re wondering if cypress is a hardwood that’s suitable for your project, I’ve created this guide to shed light on this matter.

How Hard Is Cypress?

With a hardness value of 510 lbf, cypress is considered a softwood. Cypress is graded in accordance with the National Hardwood Lumber Association standards, unlike other softwoods. 

Despite being softer than the majority of woods, cypress has evolved into one of the world’s most adaptable materials because of its special attributes.

Cypress is a softwood only by virtue of its structural qualities. Conifers like cypress trees are seasonal and shed their leaves in the fall like hardwoods. 

Cypress lumber

The fact that they are grown, gathered, and produced alongside other hardwood species has given cypress woods some wonderful hardwood characteristics that have been utilized for both interior and exterior woodworking applications.

Also, cypress wood has the advantage of being easier to deal with due to its lower hardness and density. This wood has the benefit of having exceptional workability due to its combination of hardwood and softwood qualities. 

Since it offers a multitude of uses, cypress is regarded as a universal wood for woodworkers. Let’s compare the Janka hardness ratings of cypress with those of other types of wood below:

Types of WoodJanka Scale Rating
Golden Teak2,330 lbf
American Beech1,300 lbf
Douglas Fir710 lbf
Hemlock540 lbf
Cypress510 lbf
Redwood420 lbf
Engelmann Spruce390 lbf
Sugar Pine380 lbf
White Pine380 lbf

Cypress Wood and its Characteristics

Cypress wood is something I’ve always appreciated working with, especially because it brings together strength and lightness in a pretty neat package. Cutting, gluing, nailing—you name it, it’s straightforward with cypress. Softwoods, like cypress, can be resinous, although this does not impair their usability.

The wood’s yellowish-brown color with white sapwood has often lent a naturally warm tone to my projects. Over the years, I’ve noticed that its grain is not only straight but also holds stains and finishes exceptionally well.

You won’t be able to discern the resin canals if you look at the end grain attentively, and the tracheid’s diameter [1] is widely dispersed.

rough cut Cypress

There are several commercial names for cypress that frequently provide hints as to where they came from. For instance, the yellow cypress symbolizes the inland variety, whereas the red cypress is recognized for its golden color and maritime provenance. 

The southern United States’ marshy environments and river banks are home to a kind of cypress known by the labels tidewater, gulf, and swamp.

Cypress sapwood is fairly pale in color, as was already indicated. Some people have the generalization that wood is more resistant to decay if the heartwood is a richer hue. 

The wood’s natural resistance to decay and rot has saved me on more than one occasion. I’ve used cypress for some outdoor projects, and even without a finish, it’s held up surprisingly well over the years. But for maximum longevity, I usually recommend sealing cypress wood, particularly for exterior applications.

Additionally, the chemical called Cypressene that the cypress produces gives it a distinctive unique odor. This aids in the wood’s defense against environmental factors that make it resistant to decay, rot, and insects. 

Cypress cutting board

Therefore, to prevent respiratory issues while working with cypress wood, be sure to open any windows or doors in the space. 

Let’s summarize the greatest features of cypress wood in this list below: 

Additionally, here’s the compilation of the key characteristics of cypress wood: 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Cypress

Cypress grain pattern

Cypress is a multipurpose wood that offers several advantages. Due to its resistance to dampness, decay, rot, and insects, it’s particularly desirable wood for several projects. 

A further benefit of cypress wood is its ability to withstand adverse weather conditions, frequent usage, and an excellent response to stains and sealants.

Unfortunately, like most expensive wood types, the price keeps going up because of the subpar growth rates, limited supply, and higher-than-normal demand. Additionally, it has a strong, recognizable smell that could be dangerous for people. 

Therefore, it is crucial to consider both the advantages and disadvantages of the wood you want to use for your woodworking projects before making your choice.

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Uses of Cypress Wood

staining Cypress

Generally speaking, softwoods shouldn’t be used outside. The remarkable qualities of cypress wood, which combine those of softwoods and hardwoods, make it ideal for a range of uses. I’ve used it in a variety of projects, both indoor and outdoor, and it never fails to impress. For instance, I’ve used cypress in boat construction and the material’s natural resistance to rot and decay has been a significant asset.

The wood’s strength, lightweight, endurance, and resistance to rot and decay made it a favorite among woodworkers. The inherent oils in the wood make it one of the materials that are least susceptible to decay and water damage. 

One of the greatest woods for outdoor woodworking applications is, without a doubt, cypress. So, here’s a list of the several applications for cypress wood:

Strength of Cypress Wood

The use of cypress wood as a hardwood flooring material is widely recognized. It’s stable and strong, something I’ve found particularly useful when I’ve had to pick wood for flooring.

Old-growth heartwood is very resistant to rot and insect assault due to the preserving effect of Cypressene, making it suitable for outdoor application. In fact, old-growth cypress can endure for many years, even when left untreated.


Despite being a softwood, cypress possesses a fair amount of strength. In actuality, it has far higher compressive and bending strengths than the majority of wood. 

Its outstanding flexibility and durability make it the perfect wood for boat construction and other external construction tasks. 

So let’s check the cypress’s compressive and bending strengths: 

Is Cypress Harder Than Pine?

Compared to white and sugar pine, cypress is harder. On the other hand, yellow pine is harder than cypress. Although both kinds of wood are softwoods, cypress is superior in terms of use and adaptability.

However, pine wood is still strong enough for the majority of wooden applications. Its appealing blonde hue, which may be worn alone or with a finish, is what makes it appealing to many.

Yellow Pine

Additionally, because pine is a common and simple wood to harvest, it is less expensive than other hardwoods.

The hardness rankings of cypress and pine woods according to the Janka scale are as follows:

Types of WoodJanka Scale Rating
Yellow Pine870 lbf
Cypress510 lbf
White Pine380 lbf
Sugar Pine380 lbf

Is Cypress Harder Than Oak?

Based on the Janka scale, oak is twice as hard as cypress. Since oak is a member of the hardwood family, it is clear that it is harder and denser than cypress, even without comparing its hardness ratings. 

However, woodworkers choose cypress more because of its lightweight and robust characteristics. In contrast, oak wood is widely known for its quality, tenacity, and workability in the furniture business as well as in flooring and cabinets. 

quarter sawn Red Oak

Compared to other woods, it has a natural strength and durability that can withstand a lot of punishment. Oak is definitely incredibly robust and durable, even when compared to other hardwoods.

Cypress and oak are rated as having the following hardness ratings by the Janka scale:

Types of WoodJanka Scale Rating 
White Oak1,360 lbf
Red Oak1,290 lbf
Cypress510 lbf

Is Cypress Harder Than Cedar?

Both cypress and cedar are softwoods, similar to pine. However, cypress is harder than cedar. Compared to cypress, white and western red cedar are both softer and less thick. Cypress wood outperforms cedar wood in terms of toughness and resilience to the elements. 

But cedar is a wood that naturally wards off insects and is also lovely. I’ve personally used cedar on various things, including siding, fences, and decking, because of its attractive appearance. Cedar is also good for making dressers and other clothing storage because of its fragrant scent.

sawing Cedar wood

The table below displays the cypress and cedar’s Janka hardness scores:

Types of WoodJanka Scale Rating
Cypress510 lbf
Western Red Cedar350 lbf
White Cedar320 lbf


Why is Cypress Wood So Valuable?

Cypress wood is so valuable that old cypress trees could be some of the most expensive wood in the world. 

It produces an oily resin that protects wood from water and deterioration while also keeping most insects away. All these qualities make cypress wood an extremely expensive and useful wood. 

More wood guides here


So, is cypress a hardwood or softwood? It’s clear that cypress is a type of softwood, considering its hardness value and strength. But it has distinctive properties and advantages over other wood types. 

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson

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