Patrick’s Barn: Siding for the Holidays
It’s been a while since I last posted, but progress on the barn continues. Over the holidays, I used some vacation days to make a big push on the siding. We were able to finish two elevations and a big chunk of another. This might not sound like much, but keep in mind we also had to square and mill the siding edges for a shiplap joint and prime all sides of the boards before they could be nailed to the building.
My guess is that we milled and primed about half of the siding before we started installing it, and milled the second half between Christmas and New Year’s. The weather was unseasonably warm for the end of December, which made the process easier and more enjoyable. Even with the unusually warm temperatures, I had to use a shellac-based primer for treating field cuts. Its alcohol-based formula means you can use it in temperatures down to 0 degrees F.
I think the installed siding looks great, but unfortunately, we don’t have enough to finish the whole building, so we’re going to have to switch to something else for the back side and the front gable. Cedar shingles would be traditional and look great, but the expense and labor to install them isn’t as appealing.
I’m a little scared to say on FineHomebuilding.com that I’m considering vinyl, as I know many of you find it detestable; however, I’ve installed acres of the stuff, and I think it has a lot going for it. It has a built-in rainscreen, it goes up fast, and it’s inexpensive and prefinished, all of which sounds very appealing to me at this point.
What do you guys think?
You can read more about my barn here.
This is the north side of the building with the siding finished. Astute observers will notice the varying amounts of exposed pier, revealing how I squared the building on its foundation. I suggested installing a skirtboard to a coworker as a way to hide the variation, but he thought a series of potted plants would be better. I think I agree.
Here are the front and south elevations. The missing siding on the lower section of the main gable is where we plan to install a pair of fake sliding doors. The 2x6 above is where the fake track will be. The opening on the lean-to gable will eventually have a pair of carriage doors.
Priming field cuts is one of the best things you can do to make wood siding last a long time. It's also a complete pain, as it's messy and sucks up a surprising amount of time. If you want to gauge a contractor's or carpenter's committment to priming field cuts, check their tools and nail bag. If you see drips and splatters covering the gear, you'll know you have the right person.
We didn't have enough long stock to reach from grade to the eaves for every course, so I scarfed the boards but kept the cuts random to avoid a repeating pattern. I also joined them with the higher boards overlapping the lower to prevent the joints from collecting water.
I considered dragging out my miter saw for cuts, but this little cordless saw and a Speed Square worked just fine. And they allowed me to cut a board of any width in a single pass. My nonsliding miter saw maxes out at about 8-1/2 in. in a single pass. The cordless saw made the scarf joints just as easily.
I've had this Sears-branded (it's really a Bosch) jigsaw since 1997. It's among my favorite power tools. Its barrel grip design feels natural to me, although the sliding switch instead of a trigger makes it harder to turn the tool on and off.
I once heard Norm Abram say on the New Yankee Workshop, "You learn something with every one of these you do." This photo shows the container I devised for primer after dealing first with the quart-sized paint can and later a small paint pot. It's a cottage-cheese container. The lid slows the evaporation of the alcohol in the shellac-based primer. I put the brush off center in the lid so I could see better what I was doing.