Best choice for a siding to disappear beneath vines?
I am designing a home for a narrow lot in Portland, Oregon. Considering the slim side setbacks, three story height and close proximity to large trees, it will be difficult to reach the siding for any maintenance. Furthermore I like the idea of a literal green building, shrouded in greenery including climbing vines.
My intent is to avoid any paint finish that needs renewal every few years, so the siding needs to age gracefully in the absence of maintenance. I’m not particularly concerned that vines will destroy the siding as long as it happens slowly and without damaging the structure. An ideal siding would hold together for a long life cycle even as nature is allowed to take over. Eventually the siding and the vines will both be replaced, but that should be many decades out.
I’ve considered western red cedar shingles as the obvious green solution, but have two concerns. One is exactly how long they would last before falling apart (and there are plenty of examples around town of cedar shingles falling apart). The second concern is susceptibility to fire, especially in a neighborhood of closely spaced homes. People have argued here that even repeatedly replacing cedar is still less consumptive than other siding options, and of course they can be composted with virtually no waste. However the fire issue is troubling.
An alternative would be Hardie shingles, and the individual (not panelized) type does come unprimed. Of course the literature all says painting is required, but once painted I assume that would just necessitate re-painting periodically. If unpainted fibercement shingles could hold together for 50+ years that might be the solution. There are plenty of examples of extremely long-lived bare asbestos shingles, but I’m unsure about the more modern wood pulp based fibercement and it’s hard to find any precedents.
And one variation would be using mineral paint (e.g. Keim) as a one-time treatment for fibercement, which might add to the longevity of the product. Again this seems like it might work but it’s hard to dig up any examples.
This is a light frame structure and masonry or brick veneer are not being considered based on cost and the limited footprint. However, any other suggestions would be welcome.
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