Wood siding is an exterior cladding material that is available in many types and styles. Wood siding can take the form of plywood, wood shingles, or linear board lengths. A primary distinction is made between horizontal and vertical siding. There are many minor variations in the way the siding is joined or fitted together during the installation process. Unfinished red cedar and cypress are two of the more commonly used species for wood siding in North America. This article will discuss the various styles and what makes each type of siding application unique.
1. Vertical Siding
The vertical siding used on the exteriors of rural or farm structures is also frequently applied to modern residences to produce a rustic quality. The vertical boards run the entire length of the wall and are either butt joined or tongue and groove. The boards are nailed at the top and bottom plates and at the midpoint of the wall height. If the boards are butt joined, a full-length strip of wood or “batten” is nailed over the joint for added protection and for decorative effect. This type of siding is known as board and batten.
2. Horizontal Siding
Horizontal siding is applied in overlapping horizontal boards ranging from four to 12 inches in width including an overlap of ½ to two inches. The siding is typically nailed into each wood stud along the bottom edge of the upper board. The boards are installed so that the joints align vertically in alternating courses.
3. Plywood Siding
Plywood siding offers a low-cost alternative with quick and easy installation. Full 4 x 8-foot sheets of plywood can be installed directly onto the wood studs, eliminating a layer of plywood sheathing. The exterior surface of the plywood is often grooved to imitate the joints between vertical boards. The plywood is installed so that the seams fall on studs (either 16 inches or 24 inches on center). Aluminum clips or Z-flashing are used to join the plywood sheets edge to edge.
4. Wood Shingles
Wood shingles or shakes can be installed as siding in a similar method to roof applications, again, to give a rustic effect. Wood shingles are available in lengths of 16, 18, and 24 inches and are either stapled or nailed onto a sheathing material covered with a layer of felt building paper. The shingles are installed in courses of equal exposure with each course covering the open joints in the course below. Most wood shingles are made from redwood or cedar which can be left untreated or coated with various finishes and preservatives.
Variations in Horizontal Joints
There are many types of horizontal joints through which siding is fastened to the wall frame. A plain bevel joint is made between boards that taper to the top edge which is overlapped by the upper board. A rabbeted bevel is similar to the plain bevel except the bottom edge is notched to accept the top edge of the lower board. A V-shiplap and a cove shiplap are similar to the rabbeted bevel, but join boards of uniform thickness.