Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Historic Value Of Antique Heart Cypress


(Above): Albany Woodworks specializes in beautiful reclaimed Antique Heart Cypress building materials.  This is an example of the Antique Heart Cypress and Sinker Cypress custom millwork available on our website installed in a customer's home.  The consistant quality of our building materials make them look original to the home. 

The stability of reclaimed heart cypress is one of the qualities that make it so desired. Also known as “the wood eternal," it originates from the virgin cypress swamp forests and marshlands of the Gulf South which grew for thousands of years before being harvested.  The natural resiliency and insect rot-resistance properties makes it a popular option for both indoor and outdoor applications.   Antique Cypress is unique in that it was harvested from Louisiana and other southern states hundreds of years ago to building warehouses and industrial facilities, an as a result is well-seasoned and very durable from natural aging. As new woods continue to become limited do to environmental issues associated with deforestation, reclaimed lumber is a sustainable resource that eliminates the need for new harvesting and protecting the nation's recreational areas for future generations.

The Bald Cypress and Red Tidewater Cypress, are two species of cypress trees that make up some of the planet’s most effective ecosystems. Consequently, safeguarding this kind of wetland area where the Cypress tree thrive is key in order to sustain a healthy natural environment.  Due to high demand in throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century, cypress forests were heavily harvested until few of the original giants of the forests remained. Antique Heart Cypress, ranging from a distinctive gold to a red or dark brown, has plenty of natural character and unique grain pattern.  It does best finished opaque to let the inner beauty of the wood shine, and is a well known option for companies and commercial spaces for grand furnishings and solid wood details.


The cypress forests of the south were very lucrative to loggers of the eighteenth and ninteenth century. The majority of cypress trees and shrubs blocking access to the swamp forests were removed manually, an loggers needed to be innovative in their methods to transportation the huge logs once they were harvested. With railroads scarce within the southeast US at the time, loggers would drift their own wood downstream because makeshift rafts to lumber mills when other forms of transportation were not available. The giant cypress trees were precut or 'girdled' ahead of time so the wood had a chance to dry out making it lighter in weight and easier to float down river.  However, these precautions didn't guarantee buoyancy and numerous logs known as 'sinkers' became waterlogged and sank to the riverbed below.  A few companies have made a business of rescuing these ancient logs from the bottom of rivers and ponds and dry it out to cut into lumber.  The result is Sinker Cypress, which has all of the same desirable qualities of Antique Heart Cypress, with the addition of a natural greenish-gray hue that is created by mineral deposits from its time underwater.  

These days, it is more the wealth of color and distinctive feathery grain of Antique Heart Cypress that make it so famously desired. The truly amazing builder Frank Lloyd Wright frequently utilized cypress within his designs. Wright’s buildings, appreciated for their simplicity of design and openess, often made use of the excellent style and dual functionality of cypress, extending Antique Heart Cypress beams throughout inside and outside areas without concern for the effect of the elements on this "eternal" wood. Antique Heart Cypress continues to be a favorite choice for flooring, doorways, cabinets, and stairparts because of its classic elegance.

While it may seem pricey to make use of old-growth wood rather than new-growth wood, the advantages pay off over the long life of the slow-aged Antique Heart Cypress. Old-growth wood is naturally durable and can be even more stunning as the cypress grow older. Since Antique Heart Cypress is reclaimed from old buildings and warehouses, there are often original nail holes along with original saw marks from when it was first milled.  This look is opted for in historic renovations with regard to the demand  for these types of distinctive characteristics which were found appealing by the home's original owners.  With the majority of the country’s wood currently being harvested from new-growth forests, there is a reason to understand and appreciate the value of reclaimed Antique Heart Cypress.