How To Paint Wood Siding

This articles offers some pointers on wood siding and whether to paint, stain, or weather the wood.

Wood siding is a beautiful addition to any house. Whether you are building or re-siding choosing wood over vinyl, aluminum or other siding, will probably be more expensive and need more upkeep, but will be a handsome choice. Before we discuss whether to paint or to stain your siding let's look at some of the different types of wood siding you may want to use, or already have, on your home.

Clapboard: Clapboards are installed horizontally using overlapping wood material. It is a good material but needs to be painted and sealed properly to ensure that it lasts. Although older siding was made from sturdier and thicker stock, modern clap boards are rather thin and are more susceptible to cracking and splitting in about 2 to 6 years. If you are installing wood siding you should look into "back priming" where the whole piece of wood is sealed before it is installed on the house. This could save the homeowner time and money as the sealed wood will be more durable.

Plywood: Plywood has been used for quite a while as exterior siding. It can be wood that is typically fir or cedar and usually has vertical grooves. (Commonly known as T1-11) Plywood needs to be sealed properly to keep it from "delaminating."



Hardboard: Most commonly known as particle board. It was formerly seen more as a cardboard type composition. It must be properly maintained by painting or sealing, or it will deteriorate quickly.

Tongue and groove: This siding which is similar to clapboard is designed with a tongue and groove design that interlocks the boards together. This siding also needs preservative stain or paint. Be sure to install it so the tongues point upward. If you have knots, splits or defects in the tongues or grooves you run the risk of allowing water to pass through the siding when driven by wind or gravity.

Whether to Weather

People tend to believe that you should let your wood siding dry, or "weather" before applying any preservatives, stains or paints to it, but weathering is actually the deterioration of wood. It is not a good idea to let wood weather before you paint it. Those culprits, sun and rain, alter the chemicals in the wood and destroy "lignin" which is a natural glue that holds the wood together. Once the surface begins to decompose from the elements it is difficult to have paint bond with the wood. Also, wood swells as it as it takes on moisture from rain, dew and humidity. As the sun dries the surface the wood tends to shrink, stressing the surface which leads to peeling of paint. However, if you plan to stain your siding, a weathered surface is a good idea as the stain will be absorbed more readily by the loose fibers and the roughened texture.

To Paint or Stain

The choice to paint or stain these woods primarily an aesthetic one, unless the building codes in your area have any regulations about wood finishes on house. (Some historical areas are very strict!) Stains differ from paint in that they provide color, yet allow the wood's natural beauty and character to show through. Many people choose wood siding because they want the weathered look of wood. If that is true for you, you will want to permit your siding to "weather" and not apply a stain or paint finish.

Make a trip to your local home remodeling center or paint store. There are a plethora of new products to choose from for finishing off your wood siding installation. Usually the more expensive products will give you better coverage and a better warranty, so don't pinch pennies when selecting that "finishing touch."

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