Synthetic siding materials such as vinyl used to be an alternative to wood, but they’ve become so popular that wood siding now seems like the vinyl alternative. Real wood, however, is second to none when it comes to beauty and natural appeal. While wood requires more maintenance than man-made materials, a home clad in spruce, cedar, or pine has a certain je ne sais quoi that ensures no matter what material advances come along, wood will never be obsolete.
Wood Siding Options
Interested in wood siding but not sure where to begin? The most basic considerations for wood exterior cladding are the wood species and grade and the siding style.
Although pretty much any type of wood can be used to make siding, exotic species tend to be not only expensive, but in many cases, unsustainably harvested. Assuming that you don’t have an unlimited project budget, North American fir, pine, spruce, cedar, or redwood will probably suit your siding needs.
- Fir, pine, and spruce are at the lower end of the price spectrum. These woods are easy to paint and stain, but are also are more prone to rotting, warping, and splitting. To prevent water damage, regular maintenance and sealing are required.
- Cedar and redwood, while costlier options, are naturally more resistant to insects and rot, so less upkeep is needed. Another advantage of these woods is their beautiful grain pattern and colors. If you want to showcase your woods’ natural aesthetic, cedar or redwood is the way to go. On the other hand, if you plan on painting your siding, a more economical wood makes sense.
A final wood consideration has to do with the grade of the product. Wood grade refers to how many defects are present. Clear grade is defect free and the most expensive, while lower grades have knots, pitch pockets, and other imperfections. A higher wood grade costs more, but will look better and outperform a lower grade.
Wood siding style is primarily about looks, not performance. The standard choice is clapboard siding, or lap siding, which consists of overlapping horizontal boards. You could also go with ship lap or tongue-and-groove, also made of horizontal planks, but with joints that lock the boards together.
Horizontal boards, vertical boards, shingles, and shakes each provide a different look.
Another option is to skip the horizontal boards altogether and have vertical board-and-batten siding installed. Then there are shingles, with a smoother, cleaner appearance, and wood shakes, which have a more rustic appearance. If you’re looking for a unique style, consider channel siding or split log siding.
Wood Siding Costs
Actual wood siding costs can vary depending on the quality of the siding product, home height and layout, the complexity of the installation, whether existing siding needs to be removed and disposed of, whether the home exterior requires repairs, and other factors.
Depending on your location, there may also be fluctuations in wood siding prices. Redwood, for example, which is native to the West coast, is more expensive on the East coast. And generally speaking, demand for certain woods, as well as the current availability of those woods, can vary and influence material costs.
- Fir, pine, and spruce clapboard siding costs approximately $5 – $7 per square foot installed. On a home with 1,500 exterior square feet, that’s a total estimated cost of $7,000 – $10,000.
- Cedar and redwood clapboard costs around $6 – $8 per square foot installed (~$9,000 – $12,000 for 1,500 square feet).
- Cedar and redwood shakes and shingles cost $7 – $10 per square foot installed (~$10,000 – $15,000).