Wavy Edged Wood Siding: You Had Me At Hello

People tend to have a visceral reaction to the siding on the Memorial house. They see it, they love it, they ask what it is, then they recoil in horror. Because it’s wood and will require maintenance? I don’t know because I look at this and the whole world is rose colored with little hearts floating around it:


So, 1. Clearly there has been a lot of progress on the siding since the last time I posted about the exterior of the house, and 2. People, houses require maintenance. Even houses with aluminum siding. The question for everyone is whether or not the work is worth it, and for me the answer is a resounding, hell yeah!


It’s likely that I’ll be using this type of siding on any house I build in the future that I intend to personally live in for any length of time. For any house I build for someone else to live in… I’d probably go with fiber cement board.


There’s just a little yet to go on this side before everything gets stained, which brings me to a few things anyone who is thinking about using wood siding on their house.

Plain, Paint, or Stain

These days we’ve got a lot of options for treating and coloring lumber.

  • If you paint or use a solid stain, the boards can (and should) be primed which will seriously impede weathering
  • Solid stain (which is what we used) doesn’t provide as much protection to the wood, but it also doesn’t chip. With any color you’ll get fading over time, but with a solid stain you don’t have to scrape the old off before reapplying.
  • With any covering you’ll need at least two coats, and if I were you, I’d wait a year between the first two.

Here’s what I noticed on the area of the house that was stained with one coat last Fall:


See how some previously covered areas of the boards are now exposed? That’s actually really good news because it means the boards are expanding and contracting independently. If they were all nailed together, this is what starts to cause splits in the wood.

Now when we put our second coat of stain on, everything should be covered.

Not Being An Idiot About Fastening

I can say that, because I was almost an idiot about fastening the boards to the wall. But thank god for Google, because when I pictured hanging siding in my head I though you nailed the board at the top, overlapped the next piece to cover the nail holes, and continued on your merry way.

If you just said, “Yeah, that seems about right.” put the hammer down for a second and listen to me. No good. It took me a while to ferret this information out of the Internet, but this is how it should be done:


Each board should be nailed at the bottom (the thickest part of the board) and should also be nailed independently. See how the nails do not go through the bottom board? That’s key so that the boards can expand and contract on their own.

You’ll also notice that there is a gap between the back of the board and the sheathing, which is why I was adamant about hand nailing each board. You can do it with a gun, but if the pressure is up too high it’s easy to start splitting the board there. Each board on the Memorial house was also pre-drilled before nailing on the end of every piece.

Also, if you’re wondering Swan Stainless Steel Split-free Ring-shank Nails are the way to go… they’re a bitch to find (although Menards was carrying them for a while, but no other Big Box or lumber yard in town was) but anything else will stain, split your wood, or eventually pull out with the expansion and contraction.

Here’s my theory on wood siding, it doesn’t have to be a ridiculous amount of maintenance if you do your research and put more time and effort into installing it. I absolutely would not hear of hiring help for this part of the job because I knew some hotshot would come in with his galvanized fasteners in his nail gun and shoot my wood to shit. And none of you would ever see him again because he’d be buried in the back yard somewhere.

The way I see it, all of that hammering saved me 20-life in the state pen. And also got me this…


So worth it.

3 Responses

  1. OK I love the way your siding looks but I would never install it on our house. (1) You have a one story house. Painting/staining is 100 times easier when you’re on a step ladder not an extension ladder. (2) Similar to you guys this is our “forever” home. The last thing I want to do is be painting my siding for the next 40 years. It might not be so hard now but it will be when I’m 60. At that point I would be hiring the process out which will cost me $12K or more every 5 years.

    Oh and you shouldn’t be using fiber cement board in climates that get over a foot of snow. If snow drifts touch your house for an extended period of time the fiber cement literally crumbles. No manufacturer will warranty it either. I love that way it looks and wanted to use it until I was told there is no way in our northern climate.

    With that said…I’m glad you love it so much. : )

    1. Good points Robin. Just last year my grandmother was telling me how she scraped down and repainted her wood garage doors, so I don’t think it ever occurred to me that I might NOT be climbing around on ladders when I’m eighty. lol.

      That’s interesting about the fiber-cement as well. I wonder if we see it so much around here because everyone has “michigan basements” and they stick out of the ground 3 feet so the siding isn’t near the ground. I don’t think we’ve had that much snow in a looong time, but it’s definitely something to consider.

  2. I grew up in Texas, so most of the houses were brick-faced exteriors. I didn’t really see wood siding until I moved to the Midwest for university.

    The way you’ve done yours (a) sounds like the best, correct way, and (b) looks like it’ll last forever. It looks fab, and thank you for the siding tip. I am going to pass that along! 😀

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