Paint for 1880 cypress wood house Texas

kitchendetectiveAugust 8, 2010

My friend is getting ready to repaint the exterior of her historic south-central Texas Texas home. It's a cross between southern colonial and Victorian, quite ornate, built in 1880 with original cypress siding. The house was last painted ten years ago with an unknown brand of paint, which is in need of repainting. The condition is not horrible, but there are areas that have water damage near a couple (of the eight) fireplaces. Given the hot, humid environment, is there a brand of paint you recommend? Someone at Sherwin-Williams said the cypress needs to "breathe" and they have a line of paint specifically geared to that purpose. I'm wondering what the experts here think of that? Would a Fine Paints of Europe line be more long-lasting choice? Or something else? The labor is going to be so costly for this that my friend doesn't really care what the price difference is for the paint. All suggestions welcome. Thank you!

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Cypress doesn't need to breathe, whatever that's supposed to mean. It contains a resin which will bleed out through the wrong kind of paint and cause discoloration (sap streaks) especially bad on lighter colors.
I think the consensus on cypress is a penetrating oil primer and acrylic top coats.
Cypress really doesn't like any kind of paint, and it is all destined to peel off eventually; that's the price for the incredible longevity and anti-rot characteristics.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 2:46PM
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Wouldn't it be done bleeding after 130 years? Or does the resin come out forever? This is original cypress, not second growth. Very few boards have ever been replaced. However, a couple will now need replacing, which leads to another question: what to use? Spanish cedar? From what I hear, there is no original cypress left. Okay, now assuming she does opt for penetrating oil primer and acrylic top coats, what brands and lines? Fine Paints of Europe? SW Resilience? Again, for the central South of the U.S., with its heat and humidity. Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 3:31PM
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"there is no original cypress left"

While old growth is expensive (and often salvaged) there is still cypress all over the market.

I just made new shelf strips for a barbecue grill from some scraps of 12/4 cypress I had from running reproduction exterior molding.

Amana has a router bit that perfectly matched 100+ years old exterior trim when tilted about 8 degrees in a router table.

Far cheaper than a custom shaper cutter (they run at least $400).

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 4:56PM
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We are just finishing work on the exterior of a Sears kit house built in 1922, in a humid climate. The beveled cypress siding was in remarkably good shape, but it had to be scraped and worked with a metal brush to smooth out the painted surface before it was primed.

Where we did have to replace siding, we were able to order it through our local lumber yard. It had to be specially cut and it was not cheap, but I think the house is now ready for its next 90 years, so it was a good buy on a life-cycle costing basis.

Good luck to your friend. She's lucky it's cypress.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 8:55PM
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Sorry. The paint used was Benjamin Moore, alkaloid primer with three coats of latex exterior whatever over it.

Before and after pics are posted under "Progress on Sears kit house," below.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 9:05PM
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Wow! I peaked at your home. Amazing transformation. I know my friend is always on the lookout for old, but not pecky, cypress, and has had varying luck finding the good stuff over the years--not so good lately, from what I hear. If anyone has sources, I'd love to hear, especially in the South Texas, Gulf, Louisiana area. Some of the "old" stuff has turned out not to be, i.e., it was wetter and less ready for use. It's fascinating stuff. I hear it tends to shed paint, needs prepping and wiping with a solvent prior to all application of primer and paint, but wears amazingly well, which is definitely the case if her place is any example. Honorbilt, if I may ask, where is your general locale? Is the climate a hot, humid one?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 9:34PM
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Hot and humid locale, kitchendetective? Oh yeah: Washington, DC, the capitol city that our founding fathers in their infinite wisdom sited in a tropical swamp.

BTW, the cypress I bought to patch was newly milled, not old. I am not sure whether there will be differences in how it wears vis a vis the 90-year-old siding, but we primed all sides to minimize the difference.

If your friend is willing to go with new boards, you might wan to check Jimmy's Cypress, which is in Austin. Their minimum shipping costs were disproportional to the 1000 linear feet of siding I needed, but they have a wide array of products and seem quite knowledgeable. I think you could just send them a slice of the old siding for them to tell you how much it would cost to mill to that profile.

Here is a link that might be useful: Jimmy's Cypress

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 12:13AM
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Many thanks!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 12:19PM
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There are a couple of places in my town that have milled woods of different species. If you want to know about them, just email me and I will give you the info. I am NOT in any way connected to them, but DH sells woodWORKING equipment and is intimately acquainted with every piece of odd wood in a 100 mile radius :^)
(We are in central Texas)

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 2:57PM
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