Pros, Cons, and Installation of Natural Wood Siding
Natural wood has long been used in home construction thanks to its ample supply and versatile appeal. When it comes to siding, its unique, textured aesthetic has been recreated in plastics and vinyl, giving builders more cost-effective home design alternatives, though often at the expense of natural charm and long-term usability. But thanks to recent trends calling for eco-friendly and more sustainable home building materials, this natural siding choice is once again being revisited and adapted for the modern home buyer.
Before you make a decision about what you will use for your home's exterior, learn about the pros and cons of natural wood and how easy it is to install.
Although other materials have been created to mimic the look and feel of wood, only natural wood siding can give you that grainy, organic look. Below are a number of other reasons why wood is a fantastic choice for homeowners looking to redesign the exterior of their properties.
Unlike factory-made materials that must be ordered and cropped in-house before delivery and installation, natural wood can be bought, cut, and installed all in the same day by anyone with basic carpentry skills.
This nature-made resource is easier and less expensive to replace than plastic or vinyl materials. Wood siding is also simple to match in color and texture when you do need to replace segments.
Because this material works well with paint and stains, it gives more design options to homeowners who choose it--a freedom they would forfeit by choosing other types of siding. Vinyl, plastic, and aluminum may look pretty, but they do not easily hold paint and stain the way organic materials are able to, forcing homeowners to either pay higher costs for customization or accept the material's limited options.
Natural wood siding creates the timeless, finished look yearned for by many modern consumers. Although typically associated with higher upfront costs, the increase of curb appeal and monetary value from designing a home with this material has more and more builders revisiting this classic aesthetic.
Due to the recent success of tiny and sustainable living movements, new focus has been put on using renewable and eco-friendly materials such as natural wood to complete a home’s exterior. Wood itself, of course, is biodegradable, and depending on the brand and origin of the lumber used can actually be produced using less energy than vinyl and aluminum alternatives.
Unfortunately, as with any material, there are downsides to choosing wood siding for your home.
Choosing natural wood siding means committing to regular upkeep after installation. The materials must be repainted, stained, sealed, or, in some cases, replaced to ensure the wood doesn’t rot, warp, or twist with time as it's exposed to various elements. The wood’s upkeep must be considered before deciding on this type of home detail, as it's crucial for the safety and structural soundness of the home, and it can become costly for some homeowners.
Depending on climate and environmental factors, there is a chance your materials could face bugs and critters. Consider for a moment the damage a colony of termites could inflict on a wooden-fronted home if the homeowners are caught unprepared for the bugs' arrival. Stains, finishes, sand barriers, and seals can work to combat pests, though they should be a factor to calculate into your potential long-term costs.
Lack of Insulation
Many current store-bought vinyl and plastic siding options now come with layers of hidden insulation tucked behind the factory-made finish, which is ideal for keeping the cold out during wintertime and keeping the cool in during summertime. However, choosing an organic, earth-made material means losing this benefit and possibly paying more in the long run for heating and cooling costs.
As mentioned, choosing natural wood for a home project often results in added expenses that wouldn’t be present with other options. Depending on the area you live in, vinyl siding can cost approximately $4 per square foot, while cedar can cost around $6 per square foot. With American homes averaging at approximately 2,400 square feet, installation and maintenance costs of natural wood siding can quickly add up.
The Installation Process
After applying a weather-resistant barrier (whether you choose asphalt felt, building paper, or plastic house wrap), you need to choose a pattern for layering the wooden pieces onto your home.
There are two common patterns for installation: staggering the boards with overlapping pieces and intersecting seams, or layering the pieces to display a more traditional, shingled look. Both methods are installed similarly, only differing slightly in the way the boards themselves are laid.
Once you've decided how to lay out your tiles based on your design preference, you can begin the installation process.
Step 1 - Cut wood boards to the correct and desired size.
Step 2 - Starting at the bottom of your first wall, place the first wooden piece approximately one inch from the home’s foundation line. (You will need scaffolding or ladders in order to complete this project, so plan accordingly as you work your way toward the top of the home.)
Step 3 - Nail tiles down in a horizontal fashion every 24 inches or so in accordance with your county's building regulations. Stainless steel nails driven by hand are preferable. Should studs be available, attempt to drive nails onto them, as they will more greatly secure the lumber to the home’s front.
Step 4 - Scale the wall following the tile design pattern you chose, repeating the process of frequently nailing pieces to more securely fasten the siding. (Keep in mind, the less gaps and flaws that are created during installation, the less clean-up will be needed later.)
Step 5 - Clean up gaps, holes, cracks, and other flaws using caulk. This will prevent critters and, more importantly, water from infiltrating your home behind the newly installed boards. (There are a variety of clear-drying, painted-on wood finishes that also aim to protect natural woods from weather, mildew, UV rays, and pests.)
Step 6 - Treat the siding edges and the top layer of lumber with a wood-specific glue. This should not be used in replacement of nails, but as a means to ensure proper security of the structure’s most vulnerable pieces.