Long used on homes, cedar siding remains a popular exterior building product. Here are some basics to help you decide if cedar siding is right for you.

By Kelly Roberson
June 08, 2015

Found on centuries-old homes as well as brand-new styles, cedar siding continues to be used on historical and contemporary structures alike. Here are helpful insights to consider as you decide whether cedar siding is a good choice for your home.

What is cedar siding?

The name is fairly descriptive: Cedar siding is an exterior building product that's made from cedar trees. It is found on a range of home types, and the product has been used on homes since the 1800s.

The types of cedar siding

Cedar siding can be formed into a variety of thicknesses and widths, and it can be stained or painted. Cedar is available in a range of profiles, including bevel, board-and-batten, tongue-and-groove, lap, trim, and shingle. "We recommend that it is stained, because it is a breathing, living thing," says Phil Davis, a spokesperson of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry who works with Harris Exteriors and More in Streamwood, Illinois. The quality of cedar siding will affect how well it takes stain or paint, too.

The advantages of cedar siding

Cedar siding withstands the elements much better than other types of wood siding, such as pine. It can also withstand hail damage. In addition, because it is harvested from trees, cedar holds some environmental advantages for homeowners when compared with manufactured products.

Installation of cedar siding

The different types of cedar siding—board-and-batten and bevel, for example—lock together differently, but all are installed using nails. Caulk may be used to cover the seams.

Maintenance requirements of cedar siding

Cedar siding may be left to weather to a natural gray color; allowing it to turn gray does not affect its quality. If cedar siding is stained or painted, the finish will wear and require regular upkeep -- including cleaning and patching as needed -- to sustain its good looks. In addition, the stain or paint may fade more rapidly, depending on environmental factors and the quality of paint or stain. However, unlike vinyl siding, cedar siding can be restored to its good looks if it has faded. It also may need periodic caulking, says Davis. In wet spots or climates, mildew may appear that requires cleaning with a mildew-removing product.

What to know about cedar siding

Because it's wood, cedar siding may warp and rot, particularly if not well-maintained, and it's more susceptible to termites, other insects, and birds such as woodpeckers. Although cedar siding is considered more of a green product than vinyl siding, you may want to investigate products that are sustainably harvested.

The cost of cedar siding

Some historical neighborhoods may require cedar siding, and homeowners who want to give their home a distinctive look may want cedar siding. But it is probably the most expensive of all siding types and is slower to install. "We see it a lot in high-end homes," Davis says.

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