Cypress wood shares some of the same decay resistance characteristics with Redwood and Cedar products and is a suitable alternative for deck building if it is available in your area. Cypress heartwood contains aromatic natural oil referred to as cypressene that never fades making it resistant to decay and insect infestation. Cypress heartwood varies in color from light yellowish brown to dark chocolate brown and weathers to a soft gray color. It is similar to Redwood in strength and hardness but is not as stable and does contain resin. It usually possesses high moisture content and should be dried to below 14 percent before use to prevent shrinkage and warping. Cypress is denser than Cedar and Redwood, so knots are less likely to loosen to form holes. Old growth Cypress has very tight growth rings, which provide high stability, often 16 to 30 per inch. Second growth Cypress doesn’t offer the same advantages of Old Growth because it contains significantly higher proportion of sapwood, which provides no resistance to decay. The wood is moderately easy to work with and has a slightly waxy feel and an odor reminiscent of its swampy home. Cypress wood accepts paint and stain readily and holds its fasteners well. Predrilling is recommended for the ends of boards to prevent splitting. It should be considerably less expensive than Redwood or Cedar material but may be hard to find outside the Southeastern U.S.