A style of siding that has been in use for centuries, board and batten, has endured the ages. Early European settlers to the United States made use of the long planks that sawmills produced and created a siding that made better use of the wood. This recognizable style has boards fitted side by side vertically, held in place by horizontal strips called battens.
If you’ve ever noticed this style, you’ve probably seen it made from various materials. In this post, we explore the different types of wood used for board and batten siding and other materials.
While real planks made from real wood was the standard for board and batten siding, numerous other materials have become popular in recent decades. We’ve researched all the most common materials used for board and batten siding from various professional sources and have our findings throughout this post. Which wooden siding is the most durable? Which synthetic material lasts the longest? For answers to these and other questions, read ahead.
Wooden Board and Batten Siding
For centuries, board and batten siding was made solely with wooden planks for boards and wooden strips for battens. A variety of types of trees were sourced for the siding. Here, we’ve listed the most common types of wood currently used for board and batten siding jobs.
Planks made of cedar are the most popular for wooden board and batten siding. The most commonly used types of cedars are the western red and the eastern white cedar trees. These two species of trees are in a large abundance, and over one billion board feet of the two combined are produced each year.
Cedar is known to be extremely rot resistant and takes less work to maintain than other woods. This type of wood is also great to paint, as it tends to absorb more of the color, making it last longer. Cedar is also very insect resistant. This is important because many types of wood used for siding are not, resulting in unwanted invasive pests that nest in your siding.
Cedar will cost up to $5.50 per square foot for the material and up to an additional $2.00 per square foot for labor.
Pine is an inexpensive option for those that wish to have real wood for their board and batten siding. While it’s cheaper than cedar, it requires a lot more prep work and is considerably more time consuming to maintain. It will not paint as well as cedar but is popular among homeowners because of its classic look.
If you are in the market for pine board and batten siding, expect to pay up to $4.00 per square foot, installed.
Using real redwood for your board and batten siding has some benefits over the previous two types we’ve discussed. The redwood boards work great in any climate because they will undergo a minimal amount of shrinkage during temperature fluxes. Redwood is even more insect resistant than cedar and has the ability to absorb stain and paint better than almost any other variety of board.
The maintenance on redwood is also lower than most other woods. This lumber doesn’t rot as quickly as others, resulting in less upkeep and lower replacement frequency.
Redwood is also much harder than cedar. Hardness tests performed on each type of wood show that redwood boards are up to 23 percent harder, making them even more durable.
Unfortunately, redwood lumber is in scarce supply. Some areas of the United States won’t have it available at all. This scarcity substantially drives the prices well past that of cedar or most other lumber. Expect to pay up to $14 per square foot for the redwood board and batten siding, plus the installation cost.
The hemlock tree produces wood that looks a light green when it’s freshly milled. Over time, the hemlock planks will turn a silver or gray color. These boards are visually similar to white pine, although hemlock won’t seep near as much sap.
Hemlock boards are great for staining and painting. They require about as much maintenance as pine and are not as rot and insect resistant as redwood or cedar.
This type of siding will cost up to $8 per square foot installed.
The black locust tree yields lumber that is perhaps one of the most versatile for usage. Boards from this species of tree are popular for builing decks and porches, as well as barns and outbuildings.
Locust can also be used for board and batten siding on your home. It rates the same as pine as far as durability and requires about the same frequency of maintenance.
The abundance of black locust makes it one of the least expensive wood options for board and batten siding. This type of siding generally runs around $4.25 to $4.75 per square foot installed.
6. White Oak
While you can use white oak for board and batten siding, it’s not recommended. This board type is great for interior projects and furniture, but it does not fare well against the elements. The boards will undergo a significant amount of shrinkage in the first several years, and you may find yourself in the position of having to replace a lot of them.
White oak isn’t inexpensive, either. It’s highly in demand, mostly due to its use in furniture and cabinet making. While we don’t recommend this wood for board and batten siding if you choose to use it, expect to pay up to $12 per square foot.
By far, the most durable and long lasting wood used for board and batten siding is milled from the cypress tree. This wood is sturdy, insect resistant, and insulates well. Cypress boards take stain and paint as well as any other board on the market and have less maintenance required than pine, hemlock, and others. It’s rot resistance and ability to withstand the elements also contribute to making it one of the best board and batten siding materials available.
What keeps most people from using cypress is the cost. Scarcity and demand in certain regions will make this siding material cost upwards of $21.00 per square foot to install on your home.
Other Materials Used For Board and Batten Siding
There are many others to choose from for those who prefer to explore material options outside of traditional wooden planks. Your board and batten siding can be made with an array of other siding materials, which we discuss here.
Vinyl has become a popular material choice by homeowners in recent years. While most homes you see with vinyl siding have it placed in the traditional horizontal fashion, vinyl is now being used for board and batten. This material is preferred by many because it is the least expensive siding material on the market. Vinyl siding is also durable and requires very little maintenance. The typical life of vinyl siding is anywhere from twenty to forty years, depending upon the manufacturer.
The downside of vinyl siding is the appearance. While vinyl can be manufactured to look like real wood, it’s look pales compared to the real thing.
The cost of vinyl siding will depend on the market you’re in, as well as the brand that you select. Generally, it costs between $1.85 and $4.12 per square foot installed.
9. Engineered Wood
Unlike vinyl, this inexpensive alternative to wooden planks looks more like the real thing. It’s inexpensive and very easy to maintain. While it doesn’t last as long as the other options we’ll discuss later in this post; the useful life is around twenty-five to thirty years.
Engineered wood will cost between $2.50 and $5.50 per square foot installed.
Using steel for board and batten siding is typically the most expensive option, but it has many benefits. Steel siding is the most durable material and requires very little maintenance. It is easy to paint, and the colors will last longer on this material than they will on wood or vinyl.
Steel board and batten siding is expensive, which is the main reason why homeowners usually choose another material. Board and batten siding installation requires a lot of extra labor, to begin with, and steel makes it even more so.
If you choose steel board and batten siding, it will cost up to $8 per square foot, installed.
10. Fiber Cement
A great material that captures the appearance of wood but has a longer life span is fiber cement. Fiber cement can be molded to look almost exactly like any material, and it passes itself off as wood when it’s made correctly. This material works well for the board and batten style. It is generally less expensive than most woods and steel, and it is very easy to clean and maintain.
The one negative about using fiber cement involves replacement pieces. Should you ever have to replace a piece or a section, it can be difficult to get the new pieces to match the old ones.
Fiber cement siding will cost between $7.50 and $12.50 per square foot installed.
As you now know, there are numerous options for you to choose from when it comes to board and batten siding. The wide variety of real wood choices vary greatly in their costs and their useful life.
Wood alternatives for board and batten siding have become popular over the last few decades. Lower costs for most of these options are largely responsible for their increase in sales and are much easier and cheaper to maintain than wood.
No matter what material you choose for your board and batten siding, being aware of all of the pros and cons of each will better prepare you for the project. Having all of the details also makes it easier to budget this extensive exterior home project.
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