Patrick's Barn: Siding for the Holidays - Fine Homebuilding
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Editor's Notepad

Editor's Notepad

Patrick's Barn: Siding for the Holidays

comments (13) January 9th, 2012 in Blogs
patrick_mccombe Patrick McCombe, Associate editor

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. Its also a complete pain, as its messy and sucks up a surprising amount of time. If you want to gauge a contractors or carpenters committment to priming field cuts, check their tools and nail bag. If you see drips and splatters covering the gear, youll know you have the right person. 
We didnt 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.
Ive had this Sears-branded (its really a Bosch) jigsaw since 1997. Its 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. Its 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.  
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. Click To Enlarge

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. 

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 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.


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posted in: Blogs, patrick's barn

Comments (13)

mooersrealty mooersrealty writes: Getting ready to side a big Maine barn and enjoying your posts for ideas.
Posted: 7:09 pm on April 10th

Scarecrow3331 Scarecrow3331 writes: I've used hardiplank a few times. I also plan on using it on the new workshop I'm building this winter/spring. I like the way it goes up, but cutting it is a bit of a dusty mess. Diablo makes a circ. saw blade that I'm pretty eager to try though. Also, the prefinished siding has a good warranty.
Posted: 8:32 pm on January 18th

patrick_mccombe patrick_mccombe writes: Two votes for fiber-cement, Cosmo, Scarecrow; at least one coworker made the same suggestion. I'll look into it. I've never worked with it, though.

I recently photographed an affordably-built house in Asheville, NC with Hardi panel. It looked good.
Posted: 8:50 am on January 16th

Kaart Kaart writes: Suggest finishing off the building by automating the sliding doors. Check out the videos at
Posted: 8:45 am on January 16th

ChrisMax ChrisMax writes: I used NuCedar PVC siding on my house and it looks great! Even after people touch it they still think it's cedar. The only concern is it comes only in 16' lengths and will show gaps in cold weather unless for longer lengths two pieces are glued together with Azek cement or a pvc cement. The Azek glue gives more working time. It's also available in a lot of colors that can be done at the factory. I also love the maintenance factor as opposed to real cedar. Anyway that's my two cents!
Posted: 8:42 am on January 16th

patrick_mccombe patrick_mccombe writes: I agree, Firthbuilders. I realy like the look of steel ag panels, especially as roofing. It looks great on modern buildings too. There'd be a lot of waste on the gables though. I used a plain galvalume version on my last home's cross-gabled roof and had a bunch of triangles left over.

Thanks for the suggestion. I think more people should consider screw-down metal panels for roofing and siding. It's a great material.
Posted: 8:38 am on January 16th

Cosmosays Cosmosays writes: How about hardie panel with embossed stucco finish. It's inexpensive, durable, easy to cut out for windows, use leftover siding for trim accents & cladding, it'll go with your wood siding, takes & holds paint well, covers a lot of sq.ft. fast. Worth a look.
Posted: 8:20 am on January 16th

Firthbuilders Firthbuilders writes: great looking barn! i like the idea of corrugated tin - i've seen some bright red stuff that would look great. I think it has some good potential to be used in a lot more non-conventional settings. i've used it for roofing - gets some good coverage quickly.
Posted: 1:33 am on January 14th

patrick_mccombe patrick_mccombe writes: Thanks for the comment rurunene, but I think you're wrong. For starters, the pine siding (which is a naturally decay resistant species) is primed on all sides, preventing it from taking on moisture. The felt behind the siding is somewhat wrinkled, so it allows any infiltrated water to work it's way down. If that weren't enough, each board has two continuous drainage channels form eave to grade by means of the shiplap joint, which isn't tight together. And I have a real overhang. Destructive testing of bad stucco jobs has revealed you can do just about everything wrong and if you have a decent overhang, the building is going to perform pretty well. Roofing felt, what you describe as tarpaper, is an amazing material. It can take on water and release it as conditions change. In short, I think I'm covered.
Posted: 8:45 am on January 13th

rurunene rurunene writes: Looks nice but I think you will run into problems since there is no ventilation behind the siding. If you put the siding right onto the tar paper you are sure to get problems sooner or later.
Posted: 3:46 pm on January 12th

Aroonstock Aroonstock writes: Patrick,
The barn looks great. I won't tease you for going vinyl, though as you've seen my house, you'll know I vote for cedar.

It's your place, do what works.
Posted: 8:44 am on January 11th

res res writes: Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Vinyl? If it goes up, we'll visit at midnight.

What about metal?
Posted: 7:59 am on January 10th

Scarecrow3331 Scarecrow3331 writes: what about fiber cement siding for the rest of it? you can get it prefinished as well.
Posted: 11:06 pm on January 9th

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