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Siding Recommendations

ntrdr00 | Posted in General Questions on


I am trying to find a green, vertical tongue and groove, or ship lap style siding, that is low maintenance or maintenance free. I am trying to achieve an unfinished or lightly stained real wood grain look. Most of the products I have seen are solid colors, which I am trying to avoid. Thanks in advance for any recommendations!


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  1. dankolbert | | #1

    Rough sawn cedar, if you have access to it. Leave it natural. And ship-lap or board & batten - vertical T&G is a bad idea on exterior, not enough overlap for seasonal movement.

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    Rough-sawn shiplap spruce & fir will also work fine -- as long as the house has decent roof overhangs and as long at the house is elevated above grade adequately to avoid serious splashback.

  3. user-2310254 | | #3

    I am considered a similar strategy for a planned new house. At the moment, I am leaning toward using air-dried pine ( sealed on all six sides with Stockholm pine tar paint ( Air-dried pine is much cheaper than Ipe (my initial choice) and is supposed to adhere really well to linseed-based pine tar paints. Supposedly it will only have to be re-coated on the exposed sides once every 15 years and the board should last for decades if maintained. Be sure to research this idea further on your own since I don't have first-hand experience to share.

  4. Expert Member
    RICHARD EVANS | | #4

    Steve Knapp, thank you for the information on Pine Tar. I really want to use Pine siding on my new house but have been deterred because of ongoing maintenance considerations.

    Any idea if it works on Eastern White Pine? Your link referenced Yellow Pine. Thanks again.

  5. user-2310254 | | #5

    I suggest emailing Soren ([email protected]) at Solvent-Free Paint. From what I read, air-dried lumber is more stable than kiln-dried, but I don't know that that is a research-based conclusion. My inclination would be to go with the least expensive, easiest to acquire wood species that would offer long-term performance and appropriate aesthetics for the application. Please post back on what you learn as you continue to research this topic. I am hoping to make some headway on my build next year.

  6. dankolbert | | #6

    You may also want to think about replacement. One problem with vertical siding is that siding tends to rot at the base first, but that means the ends of multiple boards with vertical. So may want to work in a horizontal course first that can be replaced easily without destroying all the vertical runs.

  7. dankolbert | | #7


  8. ntrdr00 | | #8

    Thanks for all the responses. I love the look of real wood, but I was hoping to find an alternative product, that was maintenance free. My last house was cedar, and was costly and labor intensive to maintain.

  9. Expert Member

    You are looking for what we all wish existed. So far they have got fairly good at siding that looks wood-like when painted, and some fiberglass doors stain up to look very convincing, but I haven't seen any siding with similar qualities.
    Have you thought about using a very limited (and manageable) amount of wood as accents while using a low maintenance product for the bulk of the siding?

  10. dankolbert | | #10

    I don't think there are any synthetics that look stained.

  11. peaceonearth | | #11


    Many of us love and prefer to use wood, but as is mentioned it is typically high maintenance. But that can be minimized. Shiplap boards work well, and I do think cedar is best (and expensive) but pine and spruce/fir are fine as well. A generous overhang helps, if not too late, as well as a rain screen. A penetrating stain of a natural color is more user friendly than paint. And a house that is easy to redcoat, -ie single story, could be done in a spray/brush combination, and won't need to be done very often. If you are okay with natural weathering there would be almost no maintenance. The wood will last for decades if installed carefully. With a generous overhand and gutters, there would be little splash back from rain and not much concern for rot at the bottom if wood not too close to the ground. Only melting snow would impact the lower boards, and that would be temporary and dry safely.

    I also think that boards can be milled with a deeper shiplap (larger overlap) if you are concerned about seasonal shrinkage.

  12. user-2310254 | | #12

    If your main concern is longevity and appearance, consider using Ipe. It is extremely dense and will last for a long time with routine maintenance. Ipe Depot sells FSC certified wood for various purposes. Be prepared to open your wallet. It is pricey.

  13. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #13

    White pine will work as long as it's on a ventilated rain screen, with or without a finish. Usually vertical boards are relatively wide so shiplap is chosen for its wider "tongue", compared to tongue-and-groove. All siding requires maintenance, and varies depending on your tolerance for a uniform appearance.

  14. JC72 | | #14

    Why are we avoiding James Hardie (aka Hardiplank)? It can be purchased with various grain designs, shiplap and vertical.

    It may not be very green but it's extremely low maintenance.

  15. Expert Member
    MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #15

    The OP wants to avoid solid stain or paint.

  16. user-2310254 | | #16

    Chris. He wants a real-wood appearance (lightly stained or unfinished). Is anyone manufacturing a faux-wood product that might fit the bill? Just asking...

  17. JC72 | | #17

    Hardie has some very light natural looking (faux grain) colors (I'm looking at their site now). They're uniform however and perhaps that's what the OP doesn't want.

    The OP mentioned a "..real wood grain look.." so I took that as meaning that natural wood wasn't necessarily a requirement.

  18. Expert Member
    MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #18

    Chris. I agree. Some of the Hardi products - especially the shingles and panels with battens - look great. When you use them with small amounts of real wood trim or siding they tend to read as wood too. That's the route I'd tend to take, but maybe the OP has a more natural look in mind.

  19. Svig | | #19

    I am going with (recently renamed Cedar Creek) They make an environmentally preferable pressure treated siding (pine or cedar) different colors and finishes that are maintenance free. (So they say, and my lumber yard and carpenter speak highly of this product) They are only in the midwest, not sure of your location.

  20. ntrdr00 | | #20

    Thanks again for the replies. So far the only product I have found that is a vertical tongue and groove, real wood look, and maintenance free, is from a company called "Better than logs". It is a cement product, but looks remarkable like a real wood grain product (not solid colored). However, it is very expensive, $10 per square foot, and takes over 3 months to get, plus a hefty shipping charge. Still searching for something a bit more practical.

  21. woodguy00 | | #21

    Have you looked at the Allura products? They show on their site some very real looking stained fiber cement siding. The pictures sure look like natural cedar but...Would love to hear from anyone who has actually used it.

  22. RMaglad | | #22

    I too have been looking for wood-look siding, and have found a few.

    Sagipur makes PVC siding with a vinyl coating that looks quite a bit like real wood. I have several samples in my basement, and am heavily leaning towards this product. Although they guarantee no fading for 50 years...a part of me has a hard time believe that. Seems to be the most cost effective wood look siding.

    Nachiha makes the most beautiful fiber cement board that i have found, with a really nice slick/contemporary ship lap profile.

    Allura, as noted above, makes some nice products

    Woodtone is a coating company that coats LP engineered wood siding and allura un-coated fiber cement. They have some nice colours as well.

    Longboard alluminum siding has some really slick wood-look siding, but it comes with a REAL heavy price tag.

  23. user-2310254 | | #23

    Sagiwall's website indicates a 15 year warranty for exterior applications. Not having to prep and paint it is appealing, however. How does it price out compared to wood and fiber cement?

  24. RMaglad | | #24

    I haven't received any costs yet, but the Gentek (local supplier/retailer) rep that i was in contact with said that it is 60-70% cheaper than longboard. From the limit research I've done;
    Basic vynil: $4-$5 cdn sq ft installed
    Wood: $5-$10 installed -depending on style and finish
    PVC sagiwall: $7-$8 cdn sq ft installed
    Nachiha: $15 cdn sq ft installed
    Longboard: $18-$20 sq ft installed

  25. morganparis | | #25

    Whatever people tell you there's no such thing as maintenance free. Just as with romantic partners there's low-maintenance and there's high-maintenance. Just saying.

  26. STEPHEN SHEEHY | | #26

    James: Untreated white cedar shingles don't need maintenance.

  27. dknowlt | | #27

    I too what a vertical shiplap -preferably eastern spruce - rough cut siding stained near clear and allow it to color up like barn board. love it. Fitting for a New England build. However also want 2" EPS ext. envelope and rainscreen. Problem is not being able to predict if 1x4 horizontal rainscreen strapping over the 2" of foam and heavy felt tar can support this cladding. In this case, strapping anchorage is cantilevered 3-1/4" outside the framing meat. Are the long lag screws able to hold that bending moment? Considering removing the osb sheathing layer and use let-in bracing support to reduce bending stress. I've seen criss-cross (horiz over vert) strapping but don't see how it avoids the fundamental problem and adds cost. Anyone had this worry?

  28. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #29

    Properly fastened furring strips can easily support siding, even when the furring strips are installed on thick rigid foam. For more information on this topic, see Fastening Furring Strips to a Foam-Sheathed Wall.

  29. dknowlt | | #30

    Perfect, thank you! Hadn't seen that one although I searched. May still use shear bracing ILO osb sheathing. I enjoy your work Martin.

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