Teak vs. Cypress: Which One to Use?

Teak vs. Cypress: Which One to Use?

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If you plan on building something out of wood, there are many types to consider. Two popular types of wood that you may think of using are teak and cypress. That said, these two are very different from each other.

Today, we want to figure out what the differences between them are, so you can then make an informed decision between the two.

What Is Teak?

First, we have the teak tree, which is a tropical hardwood that is typically found in mixed hardwood forests. This type of tree can be found in Southeast Asia, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Africa, the Caribbean, and in South America, mainly in Brazil. In fact, one of the most popular types of teak is the Brazilian teak, otherwise known as cumaru.

Brazilian teak features a fairly straight grain, although it can be interlocked, along with a smooth texture. It also usually doesn’t have many knots, holes, or gaps. This wood typically features a rich golden color. It may sometimes be a bit darker brown than gold, but it’s still usually very lustrous. As it dries, it will usually get lighter gold in color.

A big advantage that you get with teak is that it is extremely hard, dense, strong, and durable in general. It is resistant to all types of physical damage, as well as moisture, pests, fungus, mold, decay, and more.

It is therefore a great option for outdoor and indoor purposes, although it is a bit pricey. That said, it is a fantastic option for walls, floors, furniture, cabinets, paneling, trim, outdoor furniture, and much more.

What Is Cypress?

We then have the cypress tree, which is a coniferous softwood, which means that it has needles instead of leaves. The cypress tree tends to grow in areas that are swampy and wet. This tree is generally found along the Atlantic coastal plain, the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River Valley, and in the Southeastern United States in general.

There are a few different types of the cypress tree, with red cypress and swamp cypress both being common, although the bald cypress is most commonly found in the USA. What is quite interesting is that although the bald cypress tree is coniferous, it also loses its needles during the winter, hence its name.

Cypress wood usually has a straight grain, although it may be uneven, and have a coarse texture, along with a lot of knots. The color of bald cypress is yellow or medium-brown, with the sapwood being nearly white.

It is not overly hard or durable, although it does have a great deal of moisture resistance. For this reason, cypress is a good choice for things like boats and docks, exterior furniture, veneer, interior trim, and for many other outdoor purposes.

Teak vs Cypress: What Are the Differences?

Now that we know what both Brazilian teak and bald cypress are, let’s figure out what makes the two different from each other.


One of the biggest differences here is that teak features a hardness rating on the Janka scale of 3,330 lbf, whereas bald cypress comes in at just 510 lbf.

This means that Brazilian teak is roughly six times harder than bald cypress, making it much more resistant to denting, stretching, and physical damage in general.


Brazilian teak is also very dense and heavy, coming in at roughly 68 lbs/ft3. Bald cypress, on the other hand, comes in at just 32 lbs/ft3.

Teak is therefore more than twice as dense or heavy as bald cypress. This does partially lead to it being far more durable, although this heavier weight does also make it much harder to work with.

Pest and Moisture Resistance

Usually, when we do comparisons like this, teak is always the more moisture and pest-resistant of the two types being compared. However, on this rare occasion, bald cypress is the winner here, as its native swamp habitat gives it the advantage.

This means that it is used to being in wet conditions, so much so that the roots typically grow above the water level, making it perfectly adapted to wet conditions with plenty of pests. Therefore, both teak and bald cypress are fantastic options for outdoor purposes, with bald cypress likely being even better.

Overall Strength

If we are talking about the overall strength of these two types of wood, particularly the compressive strength, the modulus of elasticity, and the modulus of rupture, Brazilian teak scores much higher on all of these fronts. It’s just the much better option in terms of structural stability and weight-bearing capabilities.


Bald cypress may suffer from some tear-out when being cut, and it can also cause your saw blades to dull. That said, because Brazilian teak is so heavy, dense, hard, and often has an interlocked grain, it is even harder to work with.

Appearance – Color and Grain

Bald cypress features a straight grain and a coarse texture with a light or yellowish-brown color. It’s really nothing special to look at.

On the other hand, we have Brazilian teak, which features an interlocked grain and a very smooth texture, along with a rich golden color. Most people would say that Brazilian teak is the better-looking of the two.


What is surprising is that cypress wood is not very expensive. It’s generally going to cost between $2 and $8 per board foot. On the other hand, Brazilian teak can cost you anywhere between $25 and $35 per board foot, if not more.

When to Use Teak?

If you need an extremely hard, dense, and durable type of wood that can bear a lot of weight and is structurally sound, then teak is a fantastic option to consider.

It is great for both indoor and outdoor purposes, both for decorative and utilitarian applications. Generally speaking, this is a great type of wood for all purposes, as long as you can afford that price tag.

When to Use Cypress?

If you need something that is ideal for outdoor purposes and is extremely weather-resistant, bald cypress is a fantastic option. it’s not too structurally sound and doesn’t have great weight-bearing capabilities, but it works fine for basic construction purposes.

However, it’s best used for outdoor furniture, decorative pieces, and even marine-related projects.

Alternatives to Teak and Cypress

Both of these types of wood are very light in color. If you would prefer something much darker, take a look at mahogany or ebony. Both feature very dark and rich colors that look beautiful, particularly when stained.


As you can see, both cypress and teak are fantastic options for outdoor purposes, with teak also being ideal for high-end construction, decorative pieces, and much more. Both of these types of wood have their advantages and disadvantages, and now that you know what they are, you can make a decision between them.