How to install wood siding.

Installation of wood siding is foreign to most.  With today’s building materials, traditional wood lap siding has gone by the wayside.   The cost of lumber has skyrocketed in recent years. Because of that, vinyl became an easy alternative.  Who can argue with the low maintenance. of a vinyl siding?

The need for wood siding will come into place if you have a traditional lap siding home and are putting on an addition, adding a window or door, or replacing rotting boards.  The following are a few quick tips when installing your wood lap siding.

Get your caulk out.  Unlike vinyl siding, wood siding will need a bit more attention paid to the weatherproofing.  Wood siding will move a lot depending on the weather.  Anything you can do to keep water away from wood will be well worth the effort.

  • Wood siding at a window.  I am going to assume (as many of the DIY shows do) that you have an easy transition here. Let’s look at a traditional window with a trim piece that is 5/4 lumber (true 1″ thickness).  In this case, we are going to simply butt our wood siding up to the window trim.  Be liberal with your caulk.  If this is a patch job and you didn’t have the opportunity to weatherproof the window, be sure to lay a nice bead of caulk down where the window trim meets your sheathing.  Your wood siding can set down into that wet bead of caulk. This will seal up the trim, and the end of your siding piece.  Again, keep water out!  You don’t always need to but the siding right against the window trim. A 1/8″ gap is acceptable as long as that gap is made water tight with caulk.
  • Minimize the number of joints in your siding.  A joint is an area where water can/will penetrate.  Spend a couple extra bucks to have 16′ boards delivered rather than tossing 8 footers in your SUV.  The clean, joint free, run is also more pleasing to the eye.  If you do have a joint, be sure to stagger it.  What I mean by that is that you should not have the joint from one row in close proximity to a joint from the row above or below.  You will just give water a place to penetrate with ease.  When you do have joints, I like to seal the end with a product suck as a water repellent, or even a caulk.
  • Inside Corners: When doing an inside corner, the method that should be used is to install a corner piece that the siding can butt up against. Don’t attempt to do an inside miter.  It won’t work out. Period.  Use a square piece of 5/4 in your corner and but each run of siding up to that.
  • Siding Outside corners (see the picture for details. Click picture for larger view):  We decided to write this article due to the poor job done on an outside corner by someone working for us. Don’t ever just nail up your siding (without a miter or a corner board)!  This looks horrible, is not water tight, will be a home for insects (bees) and will deteriorate quickly.  When doing a corner, you can miter the joint. An outside corner miter needs to be precise and has a specific nailing pattern.  It isn’t my favorite corner joint treatment, but it can provide a pretty amazing look if done very well.  The typical method is to attach corner boards and then create butt joint as was done at window trim, or an inside corner.  Your corner trim boards need to go up prior to your siding.  I have seen some lay down the siding and then cover the corner with a trim board, filling the large gaps with caulk. Not a good method.
    Install wood siding outside corner options

    Install wood siding outside corner options

  • One other thing to keep in mind is the nailing of your siding. When you lap each course, the nail from one row should fall just above the upper piece of the siding below. Take a look at the graphic for more. You should only be nailing through one course of the siding. This will allow for some natural movement rather than binding the siding down which can cause unwanted results such as cracking, binding, loosening of fasteners, etc.