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Community and Q&A

Barn wood siding durability

WorkshopK | Posted in Green Products and Materials on


I’m an architect with a client who wants to use reclaimed barn wood siding for their house. I have now had two contractors tell me it is unreliable and “goes bad” (cups, loses integrity) fast. I have difficulty understanding how a product that has survived for 100 years can “go bad.” I plan on treating it like a water screen, allowing for dimensional movement.
Does anyone have an opinion on this? Does anyone have particular nailing patterns that will help prevent cupping?
Alternatively, any faux barn siding that will work for exterior use, but still be sourced responsibly?


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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    First, can you tell us your name?

    Old barn boards can be reinstalled as siding, as long as you use common sense. The old boards should be sorted for quality; only install boards that aren't cupped. Check the board edges to make sure that the edges are parallel and linear.

    The boards should be installed vertically, with or without battens, over a rainscreen gap. Protect the boards from splashback by specifying a high foundation and wide roof overhangs.

    Long boards are better than short boards, because you don't want horizontal joints. If you end up with a few horizontal joints, the top of the lower board should be cut at a 45 degree angle to shed water, and the bottom of the upper board should be cut at a 45 degree angle to cover the joint (a type of scarf joint).

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