Wood Siding Types and Styles: Which One is the Best For You?

Wood siding types vary by species and by style. It is one of the oldest types of home sidings used on homes for centuries. While some people consider wood an expensive and problematic siding, no one can deny its beauty.

Wood Siding Types

Wood siding has a natural warmth and texture that is unmatched in other siding types.

There are also other advantages to wood siding types and one of these is sustainability. According to Green & Healthy Maine Homes, wood siding ranks among some of the most durable, least embodied carbon, low toxicity, and easy to dispose of.

Wood Siding Types and Styles

Not all wood siding types are created equal. Consider the different types and styles to see which one is a good fit for you.

Wood Siding Types

There are various species of wood that manufacturers use for siding. They each have distinct qualities that mean that some will suit your needs and budget and some will not.


Pine Siding

Pine siding is one of the most popular types of exterior wood siding. This wood species is a softwood variety that is less expensive than some of the more exotic hardwood varieties.

You should use a finish like paint or stain on all exposed parts of pine in order for it to maintain its internal integrity. This type of wood holds a finish well, but you will need to refinish it every 4-6 years to keep it looking sharp.

Pine: Quick Details

  • Most common type of exterior wood siding
  • Easy to find
  • Inexpensive compared to other wood sidings
  • Is not rot resistant so it must be finished every 4-6 years to avoid rot and insects
  • Knot-free boards are difficult to find
  • Comes in short-length boards
  • $1-$5 per square foot

Cedar Siding

Cedar is another popular type of wood used for exterior siding. It has a straight grain which finishes well. Cedar is a soft wood, but it has good structural integrity.

This means that it does not warp, crack, or swell like some other wood sidings like pine. There are two main types of cedar, sapwood and heartwood.

The heartwood is more expensive as it is harder, insect and rot-resistant, and has a gorgeous red hue. You can paint or stain cedar, but most people stain cedar because of its distinct color.

Cedar: Quick Details

  • A common type of exterior wood siding
  • Easy to find
  • Price of the siding is determined by the amount of heartwood
  • More moisture and rot-resistant than other softwoods
  • Sustainable choice if you can find it harvested nearby
  • Annual power wash and refinish every 5-7 years
  • $3-$5 per square foot

Fir Siding

Fir is a softwood siding option that is available in longboards. It does not resist rot, insects, and moisture on its own, so it must have a finish. It has an even grain and color that accepts finishes like paint and stain well. The lower grade fir siding boards warp, cup, and swell with exposure to moisture.

Fir: Quick Details

  • A common type of exterior wood siding
  • Easy to cut and available in long sections
  • Takes paint and stain well
  • Clean once each year and refinish every 3-5 years
  • $5-$15 per square foot

Cypress Siding

Cypress is a softwood, but it is harder than many softwoods. Therefore, it shares some properties with hardwoods. This wood is rot and insect resistant.

Cypress is common in the southeast, so this kind of siding makes a sustainable choice in this area. It has a unique wood grain and color. It should be finished to maintain its integrity.

Cypress: Quick Details

  • Less common than other types of wood siding
  • Has a reddish color that will fade over time
  • Durable if maintained
  • Clean once each year and refinish every 3-5 years
  • $1-$5 per square foot

Redwood Siding

Redwood siding is one of the most coveted types of wood siding because it is durable and has a gorgeous color. It does not shrink or warp like other woods. It is also insect, rot, and moisture resistant. This is one of the more expensive wood siding options.

Redwood: Quick Details

  • Indigenious to the northwest, but it is difficult to find in other parts of the country
  • Resistant to rot, insects, and moisture
  • Because of the beautiful color, it is more common to stain redwood
  • Clean once each year and refinish every 3-5 years
  • $4-$14 per square foot

Exotic Hardwood Siding

Some homeowners want a unique look and are not deterred by budget considerations. In that case, exotic hardwood siding may be a good option for those.

Common exotic hardwood siding types include Ipe, Teak, Cumaru, and Mahogany. These are more expensive wooden siding options. They are also not as sustainable for homeowners in North America as many of these hardwoods come from South America.

Exotic Hardwood: Quick Details

  • Most varieties are indigenious to South America
  • More sustainable options available depending on the supplier
  • Resistant to rot, insects, and moisture
  • Because of the beautiful color, it is more common to stain exotic hardwoods
  • Clean once each year and refinish every 2-3 years
  • $4-$15 per square foot

Accoya Siding

Accoya is the brand name of a type of acetylated wood. Acetylated wood is one where the manufacturers treat a softwood, like radiata pine, to make it more durable.

The manufacturers treat the wood with a specialized vinegar that is non-toxic. It creates a wood that is rot and moisture resistant with a small carbon footprint.

Accoya: Quick Details

  • It is not always available
  • Sustainable option
  • Resistant to rot, insects, and moisture
  • Takes finishes well
  • Works for any climate
  • Clean once each year and refinish every 2-3 years
  • It is more expensive than softwood siding options
  • $4-$9 per square foot

Wood Composite Siding

Wood composite siding is an engineered type of wood siding that is durable and versatile. Manufacturers create this with a combination of wood chips, sawdust, and other bonding agents. It lasts for up to 30 years. It does not have a natural wood look and needs to be painted to look its best.

Wood Composite: Quick Details

  • Lightweight but durable
  • Easy to cut and install
  • Less expensive than other wood products with the same longevity
  • Does not look like natural wood
  • $3-$7 per square foot

Wood Fiber Cement Siding

Wood fiber cement siding is made from a combination of wood cellulose fibers with sand, water, and cement. Manufacturers mold it so that it has the look and texture of real wood.

It is durable and fire-resistant. It is also more expensive than other natural wood options. It is easy to paint wood fiber cement siding, but it does not work with stain.

Wood Fiber Cement: Quick Details

  • Durable and fire-resistant
  • Takes more experience to cut and install
  • It does absorb moisture, so homeowners should paint it to preserve its look
  • Molded to resemble wood
  • $10-$13 per square foot

Plywood Siding

Plywood is an engineered wood that fabricators shape from gluing layers of wood veneer together. Plywood siding, also called T1 11, is a siding that they have shaped into various forms from plywood boards.

This is the least expensive type of wood siding, but it is vulnerable to moisture, rot, and insects. Plywood siding must be painted or stained to maintain its integrity.

It is light and easy for beginners to install. It comes in large sheets so that it also makes installation quicker than other wood siding options.

Plywood: Quick Details

  • Lightweight and easy to install
  • Susceptible to rot, insects, and moisture
  • Paint and stain on a regular basis to maintain structural integrity
  • $1.50-$3.50 per square foot

Wood Siding Styles

wood siding styleView in gallery

Wood is a natural material with many varieties of texture and color.

There are also many fabrication styles that people use to clad their homes with wood.

Clapboard Siding

Clapboard siding, also called lap siding, is one of the most popular forms of wooden siding types. Exterior wood lap siding features horizontal boards. Each board fits over the top over the lower board. This helps the wood siding to shed moisture and minimize damage over time.

Clapboard: Quick Details

  • Most popular style of wooden siding
  • Customizable amounts of facing board
  • Easy for DIYers to install
  • Water-resistant siding style
  • Use engineered wood, fiber cement, or fir for clapboard siding
  • Installation cost is $1.50-$3 per square foot

Board and Batten Siding

This is a wood siding style that uses wide vertical boards with smaller boards (battens) that are nailed over the joints. This is one of the most common old siding types. This style is susceptible to moisture, so you must paint or stain board and batten siding to keep it strong.

Board and Batten: Quick Details

  • Popular in the farmhouse and historic home style
  • Customizable amounts of facing board
  • Works best on larger walls and structures
  • Needs to be painted or stained and maintained on a regular basis
  • Cedar, cypress, and redwood are common for board and batten siding
  • Installation cost is $1-$2 per square foot

Shake or Shingle Siding

Shakes and shingles are a similar type of wooden siding, but they are not the same. They both are small pieces of wood that you lay side by side.

The upper layer of shakes or shingles overlaps the top edge of the lower layer. Shakes are pieces split from a log while shingles are sawn. This gives the shakes a more rustic and rough texture.

Shake or Shingle: Quick Details

  • Popular for historic New England homes
  • Shingles are easier than shakes to work with
  • Works well on wall but also on unique shapes with curves
  • Needs to be painted or stained and maintained on a regular basis
  • Cedar shakes and shingles are common as are some engineered wood types
  • Installation cost is $2.50-$6 per square foot

Split Log Siding

Split log wood siding is common for log home styles. It has rounded log shapes on the outer side of the structure. This type of wood siding is susceptible to moisture as water can sit along the groove between the logs. So, you must maintain split wood log siding by treating it with a wood stain. It is not typical to paint split log siding.

Split Log: Quick Details

  • Popular for rustic cabins
  • Susceptible to moisture damage
  • Needs to be stained and maintained on a regular basis
  • Cedar and pine are popular in split log siding
  • Installation cost is $1-$4 per square foot

Tongue and Groove Siding

Tongue and groove siding style is one where each piece has one side with a recessed groove on one edge with a corresponding tongue on the other side. This creates a tight joint between two boards that fit together. Builders use horizontal, vertical, and diagonal tongue and groove siding.

Tongue and Groove: Quick Details

  • One of the most study siding styles
  • Simple and clean design style
  • Easy installation for DIYers
  • Needs to be painted or stained and maintained on a regular basis
  • This siding uses fir, pine, and cedar wood types
  • Installation cost is $2-$5 per square foot

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Is wood siding worth the cost?

Wood siding is more expensive than other types of siding like vinyl. But, vinyl siding cannot match the texture and look of real wood. If you value the look and feel of wood and are prepared to maintain it over time, it is a good choice for exterior siding.

Is wood exterior siding a sustainable choice?

Wood is a sustainable resource as it renews on a daily basis. Yet, some wood siding choices are more sustainable than others. Consider the sourcing, manufacturing, labor costs, energy efficiency, and the ability to recycle it.

What are the best wooden siding types?

The best wood siding can mean different options to different people. Some people value cost, some value longevity, and some value sustainability. Pine and cedar are two of the most popular options for wood siding as they are plentiful, durable (with maintenance) and cost-effective.

What is the least expensive type of wood siding?

The cheapest wood siding types are plywood, cypress, and pine.

What is the best finish for exterior wood siding?

Stain and paint are both popular finishing options for wood siding. Preference and the will to maintain the finish determine what kind of finish is best for you. A stain finish will last around 3 years. Paint finishes last longer than stain, around 5 years.

Conclusion

Wooden siding is one of the oldest types of sidings and still remains popular today. Synthetic options like vinyl siding have attracted some people who love the low cost and easy maintenance. Yet, the look of wood siding remains one of the most well-loved. There are so many wooden siding choices and styles available, you are sure to find one that will fit your needs.