What is Wood Siding?

R. Anacan

Wood siding is a type of building material that is installed on the exterior of a building to protect the building from the elements. Siding is manufactured in a variety of materials such as vinyl, metal, composites, fiber-cement, masonry and wood.

Wood clapboard is traditionally found on older houses.
Wood clapboard is traditionally found on older houses.

Most homes today are built with frame construction. Exterior walls are typically framed with a wood skeleton that has a sheathing of plywood placed on the exterior side of the framed walls. House wrap is then installed to the exterior plywood. House wrap protects the exterior walls from the elements before the siding is installed. While it prevents moisture from entering a home, it also allows interior moisture to pass through it to the exterior.

Wood siding that has not been weatherproofed may be prone to developing mold.
Wood siding that has not been weatherproofed may be prone to developing mold.

Siding is then installed over the house wrap and is the outer covering or visible layer of a home. Siding is not only aesthetically important; it protects the exterior sheathing of a home from water and the elements. While other siding products have grown in popularity, wood remains the most popular choice for many builders. In fact, even as alternative materials to wood are growing in popularity, many of those alternatives are designed to replicate the look of wood.

Wood siding is popular because of its natural beauty and appearance. Wood also provides some insulation value, is easy to paint or stain, and is typically easy to install. Some consumers also appreciate the fact that wood is a renewable resource and many consider it to be the more environmentally friendly among common siding materials.

Wood siding is manufactured in a variety of styles such as clapboard, rectangular plank, shingles, and plywood. Clapboard siding consists of long pieces of wood installed horizontally with the pieces overlapping each other. Rectangular plank siding is similar to clapboard siding, except that the pieces are installed vertically. The joints between the planks are covered by pieces of wood known as batten to keep water from entering.

Shingles give a home a classic, rustic look. Shingles are generally installed in an overlapping manner. However, many builders choose to arrange the shingles in patterns. Plywood siding is composed of several layers of wood veneer glued together. It can be installed either horizontally or vertically, although horizontal installation seems to be the more popular of the two.

Many homeowners do not think of the siding on their home, until it needs repair or replacement. Replacing wood siding can be an extensive and expensive project and while smaller repairs and replacement may be done on a do-it yourself basis, larger projects should probably be done by a professional contractor. In addition, a professional contractor can help the homeowner determine which type and style of siding will work best with the owner’s budget, specific needs and preferences, and the architectural style of the home.

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