Wood Siding: A Visual Guide to Siding Options


Discover wood siding options available for your home with this helpful visual guide.

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Wood Siding: An Overview


The natural beauty, durability, and track record of wood siding make it a choice worth considering. Under normal conditions and with proper periodic maintenance, quality wood siding will last the life of the building.

Wood siding is a veneer or protective covering that is attached to the exterior of the house. The wood is held in place primarily by nails, screws, or in some cases, construction adhesives.

Water does penetrate wood so it is important that a moisture barrier is installed between the siding and the structure. Wood siding will deteriorate if not properly maintained, particularly at joints, knot holes, or points of damage.

The required periodic maintenance includes painting or staining and caulking.

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Cedar Shingle Siding


Cedar shingles have a smooth appearance, work well on walls with odd shapes, and are relatively easy to apply. Shingles offer wonderful flexibility, as they can be cut into different shapes to form patterns and intricate designs.

Shingles are cut from a variety of woods, most commonly Western red cedar and redwood. Shingles are available with a fire-retardant treatment, which is a requirement in locations considered high risk for fires.

They are installed over a solid surface, such as plywood, with a moisture barrier between the two, a finishing coat (paint or stain), and caulking on the outside.

Shingle siding requires periodic maintenance including painting or staining and caulking to prevent weather damage.

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Cedar Shake Siding


Shakes are intended to be coarse in appearance with less uniformity in size, shape, and thickness than cedar shingles. Lasting longer than shingles, shakes come from a variety of woods but most commonly are made from Western red cedar and redwood.

Shakes are available with a fire-retardant treatment, which is a requirement in locations considered to be high risk for fires.

They are installed over a solid surface such as plywood with a moisture barrier between the two and a finishing coat (paint or stain) and caulking on the outside.

To prevent weather damage, shake siding requires periodic maintenance including painting or staining and caulking.

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Board-and-Batten Siding


Board-and-batten siding is a vertical design made by applying wide boards spaced apart with narrower boards, called battens, covering the joins, or spaces between. There is no set board or batten width, as various sizes can be used to create looks suitable to a specific home. A possible combination is 2.10-inch boards and 1x3-inch battens.

The boards and battens are nailed in the middle of the face when installed in order to prevent splitting during expansion and contraction of the wood in the changing seasons.

This siding requires periodic maintenance including painting and caulking to prevent weather damage.

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Tongue-and-Groove Siding


The versatility of tongue-and-groove siding allows for horizontal, vertical, and even diagonal installation, with each creating a distinct look.

Tongue-and-groove siding is manufactured with rough or smooth faces, in clear or knotty grades of wood, and can be found as either seasoned (dried in a kiln) or unseasoned boards. The variety of joints and surface textures available offer a wide array of shadow line effects that enhance the versatility of uses.

To prevent weather damage, tongue-and-groove siding requires periodic maintenance including painting and caulking.

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Drop Channel Siding


The profile of each board in channel siding slightly overlaps the adjoining board, creating a channel that provides shadow line effects, protection from moisture, and room for contraction and expansion in changing weather.

Channel siding can be installed vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. Channel siding is typically available in unseasoned knotty grades, but clear grades are manufactured to order. The face side is saw textured.

As with all wood siding, drop channel requires periodic maintenance including painting and caulking to prevent weather damage.

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Bevel Siding


Bevel siding, also called clapboard or lap siding, is manufactured by re-sawing boards at an angle to produce two pieces that are thicker on one edge than the other. The thin upper edge is intended to help the board shed water. Bevel siding is installed horizontally with boards overlapping at least an inch.

The length of the area of the lap is left to the installer to decide, except when the siding is rabbeted (or grooved) to set up an easy-to-follow preset exposure. Standard installations of bevel siding generally have exposures of 4-8 inches. The smaller the amount of exposed board area, the thicker the coverage and the higher-end it looks.

Bevel siding comes in smooth or sawed textures and requires periodic maintenance including staining or painting and caulking to prevent weather damage.

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Split Log Siding


Split log siding is generally used in forested locations to provide a rustic or woodsy feel. Typically, split log siding is custom-made at local sawmills that work with wood from rot-resistant trees, such as cypress, red or white cedar, and white oak.

As a log is milled, the first saw cuts result in planks with one sawed surface and one natural surface with bark. When used as siding, vertically or horizontally, the rustic planks give the impression of solid logs.

Those who choose log siding should be aware that split log siding requires regular ongoing maintenance, primarily caulking, to prevent damage from moisture.

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Bungalow Style


The combinations of bevel siding, contrasting colors, multiple rooflines, brickwork, and eye-catching minor details on the facia boards—the wide pieces used as trim on each of the peaks just below the roofline—give this bungalow a sense of welcome.

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Victorian Charm


Medium-width bevel siding, hand-cut shingles, and shutters add tasteful charm to this simple Victorian.

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Contemporary Classic


This contemporary beauty mixes painted cedar shingles with river rock and natural wood to produce a feeling of cozy warmth in a large home.

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Beachfront Beauty


The yellow bevel siding against the white trim and metal roof helps this beach house fit perfectly with its natural surroundings while standing out from the neighbors.

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Breaking the Lines


The ornamentation just below the peaks—often referred to as sticking—breaks the monotony of the stretches of bevel siding on this contemporary gem.

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Dimension and Texture


The bevel siding here has been accented with shutters and sections of metal roofing material to add dimension and texture to an otherwise monotone home.

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Gingerbread House


The classic narrow-width bevel siding on the first floor focuses the eye up to the "gingerbread" details mixed in with the cedar siding on the second floor. The added corbels are designed to look like they support the upper section of the second floor, emphasizing the varying depths of the horizontal lines.

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At Home on the Range


By using tongue-and-groove siding with full logs, untreated cedar shakes, and local stonework, this homeowner has created the sense of the rustic West in a contemporary and comfortable structure.

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Modern Art


The natural stonework anchors this modern piece of art, as the bevel siding draws the eye upward to the playful take on the board-and-batten treatment encircling the second floor.

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Rich Textures


The large-cut cedar shakes provide rich, contrasting texture when paired with the smooth, painted wood railing of the second-floor deck.

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High Style


Hand-cut shingles paired with classic narrow-width bevel siding—crowned by delightful "gingerbread" details and a stately slate roof—make this Queen Anne Victorian as awe-inspiring as the day it was built.

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