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Community and Q&A

Pine Shiplap vs. White Cedar-Shingle Siding

eliman | Posted in General Questions on

Hi everyone!

I’m a long time reader of GBA and the forums have helped me tremendously on my renovation. Thank you all!

I’m onto the residing phase of my renovation, and I’m having a hard time deciding between White Cedar shingles and Pine shiplap.

Here’s some context:  The house is a 1450 sqft saltbox built in 1979 in coastal RI, zone 5, 120mph wind zone. The current siding is red cedar shingles on the East, West, and North sides of the house, and the two story front of the house faces South with very cupped/damaged original unpainted red cedar clapboard siding. The shingles are not in good shape but better than the South face clapboard siding.

The interior wall set-up was kept mostly as it was, but I haven’t started the exterior yet. Here is the proposed wall set-up from interior to exterior: lime plaster over 1/2″ drywall, 2×4 stud cavities with r-11 kraft-faced fiberglass batts, 1/2″ plywood sheathing, taped plywood seams for air barrier, Typar drainwrap, 2″ Rockwool Comfortboard 80, 1×3 furring strips (or 1×4 if using pine shiplap), and finally either the pine shiplap or white cedar shingles.

I’m looking at using either SBC Sidewall Select R&R Green White Cedar shingles or 1″x8″ Eastern White Pine #2 KD Shiplap siding. Here are my questions:

1. Is it OK to use green shingles on the house? The KD are significantly more expensive.

2. Should I treat the white cedar shingles with anything? I keep reading they should be sealed on all sides to make them last, but I like the natural gray they turn with time and would prefer not to have to re-apply a coating constantly. I’m curious if something like Cabot Bleaching stain would be better for longevity than leaving them natural? Or is there another non-opaque sealant that would be good?

3. I read the GBA article on responsible siding and I was wondering why vertical softwood (pine in this case) shiplap siding is preferable to horizontal shiplap? If I go with vertical, is it ok to have only horizontal furring strips between the Rockwool and the siding?

4. If I go with pine, my plan is to use 50/50 mixture of purified raw linseed oil and Swedish pine tar like I saw on the Blue Heron Eco Haus to help preserve the pine. Does anyone have experience with this type of coating?

5. My biggest question is which siding should theoretically last longer in my area, untreated white cedar shingles (or treated if untreated is really a bad idea) or 3/4″ thick shiplap pine?  I know that white cedar has a reputation for being more resistant to insects/rot than eastern white pine, but the pine will be thicker and treated with a coating. The cost of the cedar is more expensive, but if I leave it untreated, it is only about $1000 more than the pine with the pine tar/linseed oil mixture (that estimate accounts for all the extra furring needed for the shingles). I’d be willing to spend the extra money if you all think the cedar would be a better idea.

Thank you in advance for any thoughts or advice, I really appreciate it!


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  1. mackstann | | #1

    > I was wondering why vertical softwood (pine in this case) shiplap siding is preferable to horizontal shiplap?

    Shiplap is not really meant to be siding material (it was normally used for sheathing), and does not shed water when run horizontally. Each gap has a flat horizontal surface that water can sit on. In fact, since wood warps, it will sometimes even be pitched slightly _toward_ the house.

    From personal experience I would also warn that the gaps tend to collect spiders and other junk, are hard to clean, and hard to paint. I like my old shiplap sheathing, but my shiplap siding experiment is a failure. (Thankfully it was a very small accent area.)

  2. user-6623302 | | #2

    I live in your area and have cedar shingle siding on most of my house. The south facing side will take a beating. I would not recommend unfinished WC shingles. Look at the BORAL products. Paint them and forget them.

  3. plumb_bob | | #3

    Wood siding looks good, is environmentally responsible and is nice to work with. However, wood will always need maintenance at some point in its service life, whereas there are other materials that will not.

  4. nynick | | #4

    I have cedar clapboard on my entire house in Zone 5 in southern NY. It's been on there for over 40 years. Every 5 years or so I power wash it to get the dirt off. It has otherwise weathered to a nice gray tone.

    Clear linseed oil based products help extend the need for power washing and drying out.

  5. eliman | | #5

    Thanks so much for the replies, very helpful. I totally get that wood will need maintenance and I'm ok with that as long as that maintenance can keep it going for a while!

    NYNick, just curious if you treated your cedar with linseed oil before it was installed? And is it white cedar or red? Looking around my area there are a ton of white cedar shingled houses and I do like the look and the idea of using wood even if it is more work. I guess I'm hoping it will last if I treat it right at the beginning and throughout its life.

    1. nynick | | #9

      We never treated the cedar before application. Let's remember this was 40 years ago. The lack of maintenance was the whole reason I chose cedar.

      I believe it's red cedar but don't remember. I'm old and so is the cedar.

  6. user-6623302 | | #6

    You might want to take a trip to Liberty Cedar in South Kingston, RI. They are a big operation and can provide you guidance on selecting the right product for you job.

  7. eliman | | #7

    Thanks Jonathan, that’s a great idea!

    1. user-6623302 | | #8

      You are welcome.

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