Virtually any type of house siding can be used to cover the exterior walls of your shed, but wood siding is by far the most common type, and here’s why: Wood siding is readily available, affordable, long-lasting, easy to install, and it comes in various styles and sizes. Here are brief descriptions of five popular types of wood siding.
Bevel siding, also called clapboards, come in long, thin planks that are nailed horizontally to exterior walls. It’s called bevel siding because the boards are milled at a slight bevel angle to produce planks that are thinner at one edge than the other. As each course of siding is nailed up, the thin upper edge is overlapped by the thicker bottom edge of the course above it, creating a weather-resistant, water-shedding surface.
Bevel siding is typically milled from Western red cedar or redwood, two softwood species that are naturally resistant to rot and wood-boring bugs. But, spruce, cypress, and pine versions are also available. Bevel siding comes in several grades, from clear to knotty, and is often smooth on one side and rough sawn on the other. If you’re going to paint the siding, install the smooth side facing out. For a stained finish, install the rough side out; the stain will soak much deeper into the rough-sawn surface.
Tip: When installing bevel siding, be sure to drive the nails through the plywood sheathing and into the wall studs. Otherwise, the nail tips will protrude into the shed’s interior, creating dozens of pointy, painful hazards.
There are two excellent reasons why plywood siding is a popular option for shed builders: it’s very affordable, and it covers a lot of area very quickly. Exterior-grade plywood siding comes in 4×8-foot sheets and is 5⁄8 inch thick. It’s available in several styles, including rough sawn, primed, and unprimed. However, the most popular style by far is grooved plywood siding, which commonly called, T-1-11, a trading name of Georgia Pacific. This type of siding has a rough-sawn surface that features a series of equally spaced 3⁄8-inch-wide grooves. The grooves are spaced either 4 inches or 8 inches apart. Plywood siding is nailed directly to the wall framing. Shallow rabbets milled into the edges of the sheets overlap one another to lock out the rain.
Tip: Before nailing up plywood siding, run a bead of construction adhesive along every stud. That way, if the studs shrink slightly or the nails pull loose, the siding will remain stuck in place.
The term, pattern siding, refers to several types of wood siding that feature interlocking or overlapping joints. The most popular type of pattern siding is called V-jointed tongue-and-groove siding. Each 3/4-inch-thick board is milled with a tongue along one edge and a groove along with the other. When the boards are nailed up, the tongue of one board fits tightly into the groove of the adjacent board. The edges of the boards are also chamfered at a 45º angle, creating a decorative V-shaped joint along each seam. This type of siding can be installed vertically, horizontally, or diagonally.
Tongue-and-groove siding can be nailed directly to the wall framing; there’s no need to first sheathe the walls with plywood. And although you can simply face-nail the siding to the framing, tongue-and-groove boards look best when the nails are driven through the tongue and then covered by the grooved edge of the next board. This technique is known as blind nailing because upon completion all the nails are hidden from view.
Most tongue-and-groove siding is milled from Western red cedar or redwood and has either a smooth or a rough-sawn surface. You can also buy tongue-and-groove boards made from untreated pine, but be aware that it’s susceptible to rot. Be sure to protect pine siding with a coat of stain or paint.
Tip: Tongue-and-groove siding is commonly available in 4-inch-, 6-inch-, and 8-inch-wide planks. Choose the 4- or 6-inch siding for small- to medium-size sheds; 8-inch siding looks best on larger sheds.
Board-and-batten siding represents one of the oldest and most traditional styles of wood siding. It consists of wide boards and narrow wood strips, called battens. The boards are nailed vertically to the wall framing, and then battens are used to cover the vertical seams between the boards. Unlike other types of wood siding, there’s no standard size for board-and-batten siding. You can make it from virtually any size lumber. However, the battens are usually cut from 1x3s and the vertical boards are cut from stock ranging from 1x8s to 1x12s. For best protection against rot and insects, cut the siding from red cedar, redwood, or pressure-treated lumber. When installing the boards, leave a 1-inch space between them so they can expand without buckling. And when you nail up the battens, make sure they overlap the boards by at least 1/2 inch to provide adequate coverage in case the boards shrink.
Tip: If the siding boards are 6 inches or narrower, fasten each one with a single row of nails driven through the middle. If the siding is 8 inches or wider, attach it with two, equally spaced rows of nails.
If you’d like your shed to resemble a quaint country cottage, side it with cedar shingles. The individual shingles are installed in overlapping courses, which do an excellent job of shedding rainwater. And the nails in each course are concealed by the shingles in the course above it, so the siding has a very neat, clean appearance. Shingles aren’t quite as popular as other types of wood siding because they’re rather time-consuming to install and relatively expensive. Also, shingles can’t be nailed directly to the wall framing; you must first install plywood sheathing. Cedar shingles can be finished with exterior-grade paint, clear wood preservative, semitransparent stain, or solid-color stain.
Tip: If you like shingles, but would prefer a rougher, more rustic look, consider installing hand-split cedar shakes. Shakes are similar to shingles, but they’re cut much thicker and are much more heavily textured.