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Eastern White Cedar siding?

RICHARD EVANS | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

Hello GBA, 

After listening to the Architects Lounge podcast on siding, I am bit more interested in Cedar siding for  future build in NH.  Couple of questions:

1. Anybody know how much Eastern White Cedar costs?  I would be more interested in clapboards rather than shingles/shakes. 

2. Does Eastern White Cedar turn black like Pine? I don’t mind greying but I hate the rotten-black look. 


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  1. maine_tyler | | #1

    Rick check out this article:

    I would find a local source for pricing.

    The short answer is that, yes, it can turn black/brownish. But it depends on the conditions. It can also be more a gray. (That linked article discusses the reasons—though I admit i'll have to look closer at the patterns of the cedar siding here in Maine, because the reasons it cites are a bit of a surprise to me).

    I would say you'll want to 'embrace the organics' mindset with any unfinished wood siding. But I don't think it's any worse than Western Cedar. If your in NH go white for sure. Check out some pics of Cape's or what have you...

    1. maine_tyler | | #2
  2. Expert Member
    NICK KEENAN | | #3

    It seems like white cedar can turn any color from almost pink to almost black depending on conditions. For our shingles we use a product called Cabot Bleaching Oil which seems to make them weather to a more uniform gray color.

    White cedar is popular for shingles because it doesn't usually grow long and straight enough for clapboard. I've only ever seen red cedar clapboard. But if you can get it you can get it.

  3. Expert Member
    RICHARD EVANS | | #4

    Thanks Tyler and DC!

    DCContratian- Tyler's article also reinforces your thought that white cedar clapboards are hard to find. My next build will have exterior foam and strapping so Im not sure I want to go the shingle route. I know it can be done but this will be a big building (2x 10,000 sqf) on a budget. Red Cedar seems to turn very dark and I'm not sure I want to go that route...

    I was all in on vinyl until I listened the GBA podcast. White cedar seems like a low maintenance/ sustainable alternative. Oh well, Back the drawing board! :-)

    Thanks again guys for the feedback!

    1. Expert Member
      NICK KEENAN | | #10

      You can use shingles if you run the strapping horizontally.

  4. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #5

    Here's a source for white cedar clapboards: I have never seen them used, even though I've always worked in places where white cedar shingles and real wood clapboards are commonly used.

    Cedar's color change depends on its exposure to sun, air and moisture. In breezy oceanfront settings, it usually weathers to a light silver color. In a forest, it will turn dark over time.

  5. Trevor_Lambert | | #6

    Maybe look into local availability of black locust. More durable and more rot resistant than cedar. Should darken less than cedar, but try to verify that independently.

  6. natesc | | #7

    I would focus less on species, more on local availability.

    Possibly not too far from you

    Their mill is actually a lathe, they rotate the log and make rips with a sliding circular saw producing vertical grain clapboards which will be extremely stable.

    One downside of their clapboards is a max length of 6'.. over a typical rainscreen on 2' or 16" centers you could end up with a very high percentage of waste.

    Over a rain screen, I just don't think you need to be worried about rot resistance. There is plenty of evidence of 100+ year old buildings with wood siding that if it's not tight up against insulation wood isn't going to rot. It will be worn away from rain, wind and sun before it rots.

    1. Expert Member
      Michael Maines | | #8

      Nathan, good tips. I've used spruce clapboards from the Ward mill and although I'd rather use longer boards, I appreciate the local aspect, and having every board truly quarter-sawn adds to the dimensional stability. I would not use spruce outdoors without a finish or a rainscreen gap.

    2. maine_tyler | | #9

      To add to Nathans good points,
      design will play a role in the durability/longevity. Keeping the wood above grade, having roof overhangs, having good airflow (rainscreen), etc.

      You could also consider more durable products in areas of high concern, such as where its difficult to keep large amounts of water away / shed it / allow it to dry. Namely, certain trim components, especially anything horizontal or close to grade. I like Boral for those areas, but there's other options of course.

  7. Expert Member
    RICHARD EVANS | | #11

    Thank you everyone for the great information!

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