The Siding Question
Old House Journal|June 2020
The Siding Question
To refresh siding on your house, look for materials close to the original in cut, grain, dimension, and appearance.
Mary Ellen Polson

Sometimes finding a match for original siding is easier said than done. Given the scarcity of old-growth wood, sourcing lumber of the same cut and quality as the clapboards on an 18th-century dwelling can be an exercise in frustration. And no one would want to re-side a 1950s Ranch house with asbestos-cement siding, even if it were still available.

Fortunately, mills still exist that cut clapboards the old-fashioned way, out of tightly grained wood; and believe it or not, you can still find fiber-cement shingles— minus the asbestos—that are dead ringers for the ridge-textured ones found on mid-century Ranch houses. Some materials are sold in both traditional squares and as preassembled systems that make them quicker and easier to install.

Lap siding is likely the oldest form of wood cladding in our history. It’s most lumber at an angle, splitting the wood into two pieces. Each finished board tapers from thick on one side to thin at the other. (The profile produces the characteristic clapboard edge.) Better grades of lap siding are cut radially from the tree with growth rings perpendicular to the board. This yields a more consistent, vertical grain that’s superior to other forms of siding.

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June 2020