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Redwood siding is highly prized for its combination of rustic charm and rich reddish-brown color. However, the advantages of redwood siding go beyond its aesthetic beauty. It is lightweight and fairly easy to install, resistant to rot, and can be fire resistant as well, if properly treated. Additionally, redwood siding has a natural pest-repelling quality similar to cedar. With proper care and maintenance, redwood siding will last for many decades.
True redwood siding comes from the majestic Sequoia Sempervirens, commonly known as the redwood tree. Redwood trees are native to the United States, growing primarily along the west coast in California and Oregon. Redwood trees are now cultivated successfully in other countries as well, including New Zealand, Great Britain, Italy and Portugal. Sequoia trees are cultivated for their lumber because they grow quickly, producing more lumber in a shorter time span when compared to other types of wood.
Redwood siding is a popular choice for homes in the western half of the U.S., where the siding is plentiful and its cost is lower. It is available in grooved and lap styles. Because the lumber comes from taller trees, siding is usually available in longer lengths than other types of siding. This is helpful because it reduces the number of joints and seams on the house, providing a smoother finish.
Redwood siding has a naturally beautiful color and grain pattern, so many homeowners choose to leave the wood natural or apply a light, transparent stain. If left unpainted, you will need to treat your siding with a finishing product to protect it from sun and water damage. There are a number of wood treatment products available at your local home store. Linseed and other natural oils are also commonly used to treat natural wood siding.
If you live in an area that is moist and heavily shaded, a word of caution: natural oils such as linseed may encourage mildew growth on your siding. Although redwood is more mildew-resistant than other types of wood, mildew can still feed on the oils contained in the finishing product. You can protect against this by choosing a high-quality product that incorporates a mildew killing agent. You will need to reapply the finish every three to five years, depending on how much sun and weather wear your house is exposed to.
However, if you prefer less upkeep and a more uniform finish, redwood siding does a fine job of holding paint as well. As with any home paint job, success depends on proper preparation of the wood and using high-quality paint and primer. Be sure all loose paint has been sanded away from the surface. Because redwood is porous, an oil-based primer is the best choice, followed by one or two coats of a quality exterior paint. Painted redwood still retains its pest- and moisture-resistant qualities, but gives you a wider variety of color choices.