How to Choose Wood Siding
Wood remains a popular and durable option for siding a home. Use this wood siding guide to help make the best choice.
Classic and enduring, traditional yet contemporary, wood siding is appropriate for a range of house sizes and types. And, wood siding is incredibly versatile when it comes to color and style. Sorting through the options can be tricky. Here are the options for type, profile, finish, and maintenance:
Wood Siding Types
While some unusual types -- ipe and reclaimed wood to name two -- are used to cover the exterior of homes, in general there are five main wood siding options. Each differs in cost, upkeep, grain and appearance. Some -- redwood for example -- are easier to find in certain regions of the country and that may affect price.
Pine: Pine wood siding is generally less expensive than other types. It is also more difficult to find long lengths of pine siding that are knot free. Pine wood siding is often stained or painted and is not rot-resistant, so must be vigilantly maintained.
Spruce: Spruce and pine wood siding can often be used interchangeably. Like pine, spruce is also trickier to find in long lengths that are knot free. Spruce siding can be painted or stained but must be regularly sealed to guard against rot.
Fir: Available in a range of profiles, fir is generally a more affordable wood option and can be painted or stained. It is a softwood, so upkeep is important.
Cedar: With beautiful grain and rot-resistance, cedar is a more expensive wood siding option that has fewer splitting and swelling issues than softwoods. It's a favorite for homeowners who wish to have a stained finish, but cedar must be regularly maintained to preserve its natural resistance to insects.
Redwood: Like cedar, redwood wood siding is less prone to shrinking and warping and is easily painted or stained. It is sometimes less readily available outside of the West Coast.
Wood Siding Profiles
Wood siding is available in a range of types, which means it's fairly easy to find a profile that complements your home's style and size. The most common wood siding profiles include:
Shingles: These can be cut into a variety of patterns.
Shakes: A classic wood siding for many traditional homes, shakes have a varied appearance to boost visual interest.
Board-and-batten: Sometimes used as an interior finish, board-and-batten is a vertical pattern that uses narrow boards to cover the space between wide boards.
Tongue and groove: Tongue and groove can be installed in any direction and is found in both traditional and contemporary houses.
Drop channel: With drop channel wood siding, a shadow is created by overlapping each board with the adjoining board.
Bevel: Sometimes called clapboard or lap siding, bevel siding is created by re-sawing boards at an angle to produce two pieces that are thicker on one edge than the other.
Split log: This rustic-inspired siding is typically custom-made and gives the appearance of traditional log cabins.
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Wood Siding Finishes
No matter the type, all wood siding must be finished with a sealant, stain, or paint. The lifespan of the treatment varies based on the wood type, the wear, and the home's climate and sun patterns. Whatever the case, wood siding requires regular maintenance -- in general, every few years.
Stain options include clear and a semi-transparent stain, both of which are best used with woods that have a beautiful grain.
A Note About Wood Siding Sustainability
One way to boost the sustainability factor of your exterior: Choose wood siding that's been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.