Better Board and Batten
Modern materials breathe new life into a siding that can be both rustic and refined.
The western edge of Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains is a rural landscape, with small communities surrounded by farmland dotting the washboard hills. On a lot of the country roads, old barns are as much a part of the scenery as the trees. These barns aren’t particularly unusual, but they have a look that people like and that clients want me to replicate. Often, I do this with board-and-batten siding.
Sometimes called barn siding, board and batten is made up of wide vertical boards and narrower strips (battens) that cover the gaps. The material is often rough-cut, leaving the sawmill as “finished” siding without an additional trip to a mill shop for further beautification.
While this lack of polish can be stark, board and batten wasn’t always relegated to barns and sheds. Its American heyday came in the 1800s, when it was a common feature of grand Carpenter Gothic homes during the Gothic Revival period. Its vertical lines draw the eye upward, making a structure appear taller and slimmer, while the bold shadows cast by the battens give walls a striking texture.
Board and batten fell out of favor as siding for homes largely because it wasn’t as water- and airtight a system as horizontal lap siding. These days, though, siding materials are usually more of a decoration than a barrier to the elements. The task of weatherproofing a home falls on housewrap, flashing, and other materials inboard of the siding. This change, along with the introduction of materials that address some of wood’s shortcomings, probably has something to do with the resurgence of vertical siding we’re now seeing on American homes.
Wrap and flash as usual
Whether we’re using wood or engineered materials like the Boral TruExterior poly-ash trim we used on this project, we…