Barn Siding 101: Design, Installation, and Cost Comparison

Barn siding is an exterior cladding often in a board and batten style. Designers use it for residential homes, garages, agricultural buildings, and barns. It shields the barn’s interior from rain, snow, and harsh winds. Barn-style siding is available in wood, metal, and vinyl materials.

Barn Siding 101

Pros and Cons of Barn Siding


  • Durability: Wood barn siding has an average lifespan of 20-40 years. Good quality vinyl and metal siding lasts up to 50 years with proper care.
  • Weather resistance: Barn siding installation helps maintain the structural integrity and longevity of the barn. It provides a barrier against sunlight, wind, and rain.
  • Low maintenance: Metal and vinyl barn siding require occasional cleaning. Wood siding may need painting or staining every five years.
  • Rustic appearance: Barn siding adds a rustic look to modern barn-style houses. It’s customizable in various materials, styles, colors, and finishes to match the property design.


  • Cost: High-quality wood and fiber cement are costly barn siding materials. Vinyl is more cost-effective but less durable, especially in extreme weather conditions.
  • Potential for insect infestation: Barn wood siding is the most vulnerable to termites, carpenter ants, and beetles. Metal and fiber cement are suitable options for avoiding pest-related issues.
  • Limited design options: Exterior barn wood siding is installed vertically or board-and-batten. Other designs, like shakes or shingles, may not provide the desired aesthetic.

How to Install Exterior Barn Siding

The board and batten style is a popular type of barn siding.

Tools and Materials Required

  • Barn siding
  • House wrap
  • Galvanized nails
  • Level
  • Furring strips
  • Chalk line
  • Circular or miter saw
  • Spacers
  • Finishes

Step-by-Step Installation Process

  1. Prepare the surface: If necessary, remove old siding and repair any damage to the wall. Ensure the surface is clean and dry before attaching a water-resistant house wrap.
  2. Plan the layout: Use a chalk line to mark the top and bottom of the first row of the siding. Use a level to ensure the lines are straight.
  3. Cut the board and batten siding: Use a circular or miter saw to cut the siding to the correct length. Take into consideration any doors, windows, or other architectural features.
  4. Install the furring strips: Install furring strips along the wall, perpendicular to the wall studs. The strips should be 16-24 inches apart, depending on the size of the siding. Use a level to ensure the strips are straight.
  5. Install the siding: Install the vertical planks from one end of the wall. Position the first piece of siding along the bottom chalk line and nail it down. Nail down the siding to the furring strips, leaving a gap between the panels for the battens to overlap. Use spacers to maintain consistent gaps.
  6. Add the batten strips: Install batten strips over the seams of the board siding using galvanized nails. The batten strips should cover the gap between the boards.
  7. Paint, seal, or stain: Stain wood barn siding to enhance the wood color and prevent moisture absorption. You can also paint barn siding if you desire.

Cost of Barn Siding

Barn siding installation costs between $3 to $9 per square foot. The overall cost depends on the materials used and the project size. Additional materials such as fasteners, finishes, and house wrap contribute to the final cost.

Factors Affecting the Overall Cost

  • Type of siding: Plywood and vinyl types are the cheapest options. Reclaimed barn wood siding is the most expensive, costing $9-$12 per square foot for materials only.
  • Quality and thickness: While high-quality materials are durable, they’re more expensive. Thicker siding can be more challenging to cut and install, increasing labor costs.
  • Labor costs: Labor charges vary with location, as installers in urban areas may have high rates.
  • Project size: Large projects need more materials and time to complete, increasing installation costs.
  • The complexity of installation: Some siding materials, like fiber cement, need more labor-intensive installation. Board and batten siding is more complex to install than simple barn lap siding. It involves the installation of both boards and battens and precise spacing between them.
  • Surface preparation: Removing old siding and repairing damaged walls increases labor costs. Most professionals charge an extra $1-$4 per square foot for removing and disposing of old siding.

Common Barn Siding Materials


Wood barn siding consists of oak, pine, cedar, or plywood. It’s available in various grades, from rough-sawn to smooth textures. Manufacturers treat the wood to enhance its durability and resistance to weathering, insects, and rot. It’s a sustainable and environmentally friendly siding option, as wood is a renewable resource.

The downside to using wood siding is that it requires continual upkeep. You’ll need to paint it or add a sealant about every five years to protect it from rot and insects.


Metal barn siding consists of steel or aluminum. Metal siding is popular for pole barns, barndominiums, or agricultural buildings. It’s rigid, durable, and withstands harsh winds, heavy rain, and snow. Metal barn siding is also low-maintenance. You can easily clean it with a pressure washer or hose. But it’s more prone to dents or scratches.


Vinyl is a cheap barn siding material. It’s also lightweight and easy to install, improving a building’s insulation. However, it may not replicate the texture and appearance of natural wood.

Fiber Cement

Fiber cement is the most durable exterior barn siding material. You can order it in your color of choice or paint it. The downside of fiber cement siding is that it’s heavy and requires professional installation.

Uses and Applications of Barn Siding

Barn siding has various interior and exterior applications.

Barns and Agricultural Buildings

Barn siding creates a classic look on sheds, barns, and agricultural buildings. Siding protects the building from weathering and wear and tear while enhancing its curb appeal.


Homeowners use barn siding for garages to match the home’s siding or create a unique look. The siding’s color, texture, and profile are customizable to meet their needs and budget. Barn siding is a practical and attractive choice for a garage, adding to the property’s value and aesthetic appeal.

Residential Homes

Residential applications for barn siding include wall paneling, accent walls, and fence construction. Barn siding is also used on headboards, kitchen cabinets, countertops, and islands.