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Community and Q&A

Regionally appropriate wood siding?

Daniel Ernst | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

I’d like to start a discussion on regionally appropriate wood siding choices. Although I would like to hear input on my location (Virginia), I think the discussion could range further to include other areas of the country.

Some comments:

Practically every building yard I’ve ever visited stocks western red cedar siding. It’s hard to argue with its durability or beauty, but it is certainly not a locally sourced wood. I know WRC shingles can be sustainable harvested, but I’m less sure about 12′ – 16′ lengths of siding.

Virginia’s forests are primarily hardwood; oak, hickory, poplar, and maple make up the majority of hardwood species. To the southeast, southern yellow pine is the predominate softwood. So although we have a great supply of framing lumber and furniture wood, there is no dead ringer for siding.

TimberSil offers a treated southern yellow pine siding, but even their local retailer suggested that I look into other options:

So that sends me out of state. The question then becomes, how far and what choices?

South – Cypress

North – White cedar, spruce, hemlock

West – Western red cedar, redwood

I’d like to hear your thoughts. I’d propose that you list your state and your preferred wood siding choice / species, then give some context and information afterwards.

Michael Chandler – If you run across this, I would appreciate some of your insight. Specifically, do you have any experience with cypress siding?


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  1. Daniel Ernst | | #1

    Here is an interesting study that I found concerning wood durability:

  2. Michael Chandler | | #2

    Daniel - I do have a bit of an attitude about cypress after working with it a bit. It seems sort of brittle and waney to use for siding, okay for interior trim though I know some who use it for clapboards all the time. But I spent ten years volunteering on river restoration and stream ecology education and my sense of how cypress is harvested is that it involves a lot of damage to swamps and bogs in the coastal area here the southwest. I may be wrong about this, just a sense of the industry down there as rapacious of a vulnerable part of the state.

    My preferred local lumber is poplar for reverse board and batten siding, southern yellow pine for trim, ceilings and bedroom floors and local white oak for living area floors. These seem to be being harvested responsibly and sustainably. I like supporting the local loggers, good folks generally and having a hard time getting decent value for their logs. Same for the local saw mills.

    My favorite siding is western red label red cedar shingles. I'm not aware of a shingle product from the southeast.

    Timbersil looks to be great stuff but I'd be skeptical about using it for siding and I don't think they have an ICC ES report for exterior application, then again we used to get "German Siding" and even clap boards fro remodeling made from local yellow pine and they used to make a penta- treated 1x4 T&G porch flooring so exterior use of clear yellow pine is not unprecedented. Back in the 70's the local hippies used 1x8 treated pine for clapboards and early rainscreen siding but it was sort of an acquired taste. I remember a lot of talk about green oak siding when I was hanging in Charlottesville VA in '78 but I didn't last long there (they put ketchup in their barbecue sauce, sacrilege!)

  3. draginfly58 | | #3

    Most of the houses in my area- old houses that is Virginia are made with yellow pine siding . These old houses have been around some of them for well over 100 years. I'm pretty sure it's yellow pine-looks like it with that big long grain. Seems like it lasts a long time here.

  4. Daniel Ernst | | #4

    Michael - Thanks for the feedback.

    I've only been on one project that used cypress siding. I had mixed feelings about it---similar to you. It is, however, one of the few naturally rot resistant woods from the southeast area. I was not aware of the logging issues; that's good information.

    I have only used poplar for interior applications. It certainly holds stain and paint well, has great workability. But my understanding is that it does not last long when exposed to the elements (?).

    Southern yellow pine is a strong and versatile wood, but I don't think it makes the grade as a siding material. Some of the older houses in the Virginia do have SYP siding. Most are now covered with vinyl, due to issues with aesthetics / maintenance. In my experience, it does not hold stain or paint well when exposed to rain and UV. With the newer latex solid body stains . . . . ?

    Speaking of Charlottesville, maybe T. Jefferson is why wood siding is not a favored material here?

    "A country whose buildings are of wood, can never increase in its improvements to any considerable degree." (from his Notes on Virginia)

  5. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #5

    Our local wood works well stained not painted as there's no clear grade.We can get spruce, pine and hemlock direct from local small saw mills. For painted finish I use Certainteed's cement boards and purchase it prepainted.

    I also use western cedar but will not do so for future local source only projects.

  6. David Meiland | | #6

    WRC is local and regional material here. I can get cedar that's logged locally by one of a couple guys who carefully manage their forests, milled locally, etc., for not much more than commodity material. As far as I know, most commodity cedar is clear-cut in Canada, but I can order FSC from a couple of specialty softwood dealers. I am negotiating for a new house build right now and am going to be looking into a local or FSC package of exterior shingles and trim. Roughsawn cedar takes oil stain unbelievably well, and is easy to maintain. If I need smooth, painted exterior material I use VG fir.

  7. draginfly58 | | #7

    Yea Mr. Jefferson probley liked brick and stone better than wood but I still think wood is good. Them brick and stone houses have there share of problems to. Poplar wood rots easier than pine and so does oak.

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