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Building a tiny house, thinking of siding options...  RSS feed

 
Sage Boyd
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Hi permies,

We have finally made the move to 40 acres in NH and are well on our way to timber-framing a small cabin. I am thinking ahead to siding. my husband and I were all set to order rouch boards to dry and use as lap-board siding, but I am now thinking perhaps metal siding would be similar in price and better in the long-run.

Any advice?

Anyone ever use metal siding (Like the roofing material)? Places to get good information on pros and cons? Metal Vs wood? adding a picture for a concept...

metal-or-wood.jpg
[Thumbnail for metal-or-wood.jpg]
Metal and wood siding
 
thomas rubino
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Hi Sage; There are pro's and cons on both materials. Metal is non burnable but it will lose its color quickly ,it also will dent if struck .I believe it is best used on the roof. Wood is burnable and will also fade in the sun but it can be stained or painted, it also can over time have a bug issue. Another option would be to use (concrete boards ) it is non burnable and paintable but.. in my opinion not nearly as nice looking as wood. (note) insurance companies really like non burnable siding. If it were me I would look for and use cedar boards as a lap siding , they look great and are bug resistant. They are burnable but all wood is... Maybe you could use concrete board and the face it with local stone ? Don't forget to build your floor strong to hold the weight of a rocket mass heater to keep you toasty on cold NH nights ! Good Luck Tom
 
Ken Peavey
steward
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Hardie panel
This is a fiber cement panel sold in 4' x 8' sheets and in 6" x 12' boards
Cut with a skill saw
nail or screw to install
paintable
bug proof
waterproof
fireproof

 
Sage Boyd
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Thanks guys!

My husband is partial to the look of Adirondack siding. I really like the look and durability of the metal panels. I don't mind the fading, or dents either... A few of the small cabins here (we live in an intentional community) have adirondack siding that was installed 9-15 years ago and I don't like the way it has weathered (and molded/rotted/been susceptible to bugs and vermin) at all. Cost is an issue, since he will argue on cost. The floor, though (and the supports for the structure) are very well-built with our rocket mass heater in mind. Looking forward to more progress... though it looks like a lot of conversations about our siding are to come.

Do you know how it does with insulation/heat retention?

Here is a picture of the 8 foot tall (buried) 12" sonotubes with the beams and posts finished/level.
foundation.jpg
[Thumbnail for foundation.jpg]
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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First, congratulations on what sounds like a great project! (also your name, as Sage is my Son's name...)

now to your question...

Metal, if recycled, can be a really great siding and removes a material from the waste stream. Metals can also be considered from strictly an "aesthetic" design perspective. Cost...that I would find hard to make a good point...it is more expensive (typically) than rough sawn wood, but if you can find it at a comparable price and like it aesthetically...go for it. With a very "healthy" standing seam roof industry in the area...metal siding of this, and similar formats is becoming popular for not only function but "aesthetic ascent," and "architectural statement.

As a professional Timberwright, I tend to lean toward traditional siding methods...vertical board, infill methods, slate/stone, even just traditional thatch and bark if the materials are available....I have only used metal a few times as it was both recycled, and with its flax oiled/rusted patina...made a beautiful accent to the "wainscott" siding motif of the project.

Hope that helps in your decision...

Regards,

j

P.S. I would add that wood can often outlast metal in durability as well...which would support your husbands opinion. We, at least once a year, find wood siding that is over 200 years old, and I have seen some that is over 500, so if done well and treated properly...it can last a very long time...



 
R Scott
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I do love the practical nature of metal. But wood can be so beautiful. I would suggest a combination. Metal as wainscot and the wind blown side(s) with wood where it is seen and protected.

One warning on metal: the new cheap painted panels are not as low maintenance as you would hope. They rust and lose paint quickly, get quality galvanized panels if you want it to truly last.
 
Brian Knight
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Excellent question and comments on siding. If you go the wood route, install it on a rainscreen. Some of the metal panels can naturally form a rainscreen but I dont like how some of them trap and channel water with the J channel trim. Try to install it in a way that stops insects yet allows drainage and airflow between it and the sheathing.

Care to elaborate on your insulation/heat retention question? Sidings/claddings should have little effect if you do your wall and roof insulation right.
 
Sage Boyd
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I am curious, because various materials *have* different insulative values. They must have *some * effect on the home as a whole. I don't know much about it, though.

I like the idea of a rain screen and will be looking into it more. Any good links you can share?

I think my husband is really interested in wood siding. What can you tell me about other options? I'm in New England and would like to compare price/ labor for plaster, cob, and any other methods. Anyone have thoughts?
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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If in New England (as most places with trees) a simple board and batten system will most likely be the least expensive. If hung traditionally, these will have air circulating on both side because of the "rain screen" system and will use only one nail per board at each nailing purlin which often are as far apart as 4 feet. Some systems don't use nails at all, and are jointed and hung as panels that can be removed for wall servicing. Cost in our area is $0.6 to $1 / BF and $3 to $5 / square foot for installation, if hired out.
 
Sage Boyd
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We will be doing the work, and I am aware that daubing clay plaster by hand is more labor intensive than nailing boards up... that is the sort of comparision I am hoping for from this discussion. anyone ever done Daub in NE? plaster?

I just found a local place that will deliver 8 yards of clay to our cabin site for 300$... I think we might do the cob (daub) finish.
 
Brian Knight
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The cob route will be tricky as it sounds like it would be a veneer. Siding has a long history of success in your region and I think an average siding job would outlast an average cob job with less maintenance especially if its installed on a rainscreen.

Iam not sure what Jay means when hung traditionally as I think a traditional siding job is typically NOT done with a rainscreen. Adding the nailing strips behind the siding is what gives it a vented airspace and you need to be careful about how you detail insect resistance. They generally need to be spaced closer than 4' too. I agree with Jay on board and batten being a good choice and if you do a "reverse board and batten" it creates more of a rainscreen than a traditional board and batten, just beware of insects.

http://wncgreenblogcollective.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/rainscreens-simple-strategies-for-protecting-ones-biggest-investment/

http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/all-about-rainscreens
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Brian Knight wrote:Iam not sure what Jay means when hung traditionally as I think a traditional siding job is typically NOT done with a rainscreen.


"Rain Screen" wall systems have been around, in one form or another for a very long time....Perhaps at least 300 years, possible over 1000 years if you take into consideration the different systems found in Asia. "Double roof" (cold roof) systems, have been around just as long or longer. Understanding that wood should have air circulating on both sides is anything but a "modern concept." I have seen countless siding jobs in places like Maine, where "contemporary Capes" are built to mimic their 200 plus year old neighbors...only to have the siding (shingle, or board) fail both in finish and/or structure because the siding was placed directly over a "plastic wrapped shell of plywood," instead of a "rain screen" wall as so many traditional builders used in these regions. Unfortunately more and more are "torn down" and replaced each year with the "inferior system," to the point, that in some regions now, we only have the lesser system being used...Which keeps the painting and siding contractors very busy and happy.

Good "breathing walls" (rain screens) are comprised of two primary elements...the vertical "spacer boards" and the "horizontal purlins" (sometimes called "skip trace board.") The "horizontal purlins" are indeed (like in thousands of Barns) space 1.2 m (~4') apart. I have worked with siding of this type very often some is over 250 years old and still functional while some I have seen in Asia is well over 500 years of age or older.

A board cladding is without a doubt logistically and from the perspective of durability going to be the least expensive fiscally and physically of the two systems. So if a DIYer is doing the work themselves and taking in the "big picture" of durability, maintenance, and longevity...on a scale of 1 through 10 (10 being the most durable, maintenance free and lasting the longest)...clay plaster is a 3 at its very best and wood is a 7 to 8, copper 8 to 9, and slate (stone) is a 9 to 10.

Regards,

j
 
Brian Knight
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I agree with the last paragraph there. Some other things Iam confused about. Traditional is a broad term and Iam sure there are very old examples of rainscreen systems but for traditional homes in the US dating back to Euro colonization, it is very rare for them to include the current, most common definitions of rainscreens. Light or heavy timber framing were sheathed with boards. Clapboard/siding was nailed right up against the sheathing with no rainscreen type gap. If you were to hire a siding installation crew and asked for a traditional siding install you would not get a rainscreen and its been that way for a very long time.

With an insulated wall, the difference between laying siding right up against tar paper (tradtional?) and plastic WRB will make very little difference in longevity of the siding. Take either situation and add the rainscreen gap and things change dramatically. Remove the insulation from the other side of the sheathing (like in a barn) and things change dramatically as well.

As for calling a rainscreen a breathing wall? I just dont know where to start..


 
Sage Boyd
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One of the downsides to wood, from my perspective is the time needed for the boards (rough cut and green) to be delivered/stacked to dry and season before they could be installed. Installing them wet/green would mean either overlapping a lot to account for shrinkage or dealing with gaps later on.

 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Brian Knight wrote:...it is very rare for them to include the current, most common definitions of rainscreens.


It is very rare? In my experienced, I would not call it rare at all, but I am only sharing what I have either read, heard or experienced based on my research, travels and collected oral lineages of the last 35 years in studying vernacular examples of natural and traditional building systems. These many vernacular terms came from some place, and "rain screen," in several architectural application is one I have both read and heard quite a few times.

Brian Knight wrote: ...Light or heavy timber framing were sheathed with boards...


Actually the majority of timber frames built through history...and even today, if speaking of their "entirety" as a type of architecture are not sheath in boards at all but infilled. Some are then further covered in wooden strips vertical, or horizontal, or both and then clad in boards. Ergo...vented walls of one form or fashion...just as I have already described several times.

Brian Knight wrote:...Clapboard/siding was nailed right up against the sheathing with no rainscreen type gap. If you were to hire a siding installation crew and asked for a traditional siding install you would not get a rainscreen and its been that way for a very long time.


Yes...sometimes, and in some regions today that is probably very true, or periods (like urban Victorian) this also may have been the case. Yet to state it as the "only way" or primary is not what I have read, observed or experienced at all. Rainscreening was probably more common...in some form or fashion...200 years ago than it is today. Thankfully this wisdom is returning to us. As a traditional builder, and Historical Restoration artisan that corresponds with many of my ilk, I can state that many not only understand rainscreen (or vented wall systems) that is all they would facilitate on their projects in certain location like Maine, Nova Scotia, Japan, etc. So, if speaking of the average "american siding contractor," perhaps that is true..proper or the overall norm of it...I would have to respectfully disagree.

Brian Knight wrote:As for calling a rainscreen a breathing wall? I just dont know where to start..


Hmmm...well, I don't believe there is any place to start actually. I do not get to decide what vernacular terms builders of the past may have chosen to use. As an Historian in traditional modalities of architecture and building methods, I could speculate it is from the sound that this type of wall system can sometimes make when tall enough, or tied into the venting of a cold roof. It sounds like breathing, and I have seen baby powder or smoke placed a the venting slot near the bottom of the siding rapidly vent through behind one of these walls and out the top or roof ridge vent, which demonstrates the effect. So "breathing wall," at least to me, makes perfect sense as a term to apply to them, do to this sound and the sometimes rapid transfer of air.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Sage,

Traditionally (and today as well) wood for siding (and many other applications including floors) is laid or hung "green" (wet.) It has only been in recent decades and perhaps because of "lumber marketing" that the idea that wood-lumber must be dry to use has come about. We very often (mainly to be truthful about it) take trees out of sellect forest, put on one of our mills and use it all within 1 to 6 months of harvest...depending on species and application. I have laid wide plank pine floor (of a traditional Korean style) in wood that was in a standing tree less than three days prior. These plank section are sometimes as wide as 900mm (~30") So I would suggest that stacking and being green is never a reason not to logistically consider wood as a building material compared to other modalities. Gaps, even in very green (wet) wood can be mitigated greatly by knowledge in traditional wood working methods and understanding how wood moves. Even my beginning students soon master the ability to "read wood" in its basic form. One should be able to glance at the average board and tell "root from crown and bark from pith," as this most basic skill is required to use wood properly.

Regards,

j
 
Brian Knight
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Jay, what kind of things were used for insect screening in older rainscreen systems?
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Before the IR (industrial revolution) not much other than flax cloth and some silks, but usually it just wasn't a concern (nor does it really have to be today in many ways.) Wood slot boards have also been used in some systems as well. Just before and after the IR...copper, bronze and iron screening came about (c ~ 1820's.)

I try to always design system to be "panelized" and removable without much effort. The random "mud wasp" or "honeybee" colony is more than welcome in the homes I facilitate, and for the clients I attract or educate about the "realities" of actual "pest control" and what is may be needed, compared to what is "pest control industry marketing." I have only seen two honeybee hive built behind a vented wall system. The other wee beasties that get back there like wasps, small lizards, etc are not really an issue I worry too terrible much about.
 
Brian Knight
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Do yall not have Carpenter Bees up there?
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
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Some people around here use old partly rusty corrugated iron for cabins and fences an it looks great!
However, metal is the contrary of an insulator and I don't know how it diminished the effect of your insulation underneath.
And it can attract lightning. If your climate allows I would never paint wood either oil it or leave it naturally because painting contains the word pain.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Xylocopa are rather pesky wee beasties if you have one of the countless species of them...yet I also find them charming with aerial antics that can be both entertaining and interesting.

As for germane to this topic section on "vented wall systems" of wood...they really aren't. If an area has them...certain species of wood are going to be nested in...vented or not...from front or behind...so screen vents DO NOT make a "hoot of a difference to them," as they be chew'n and nest'n no matter how much you try to screen a vent...

There are some very successful traditional treatment modalities, and wood choices that render them a none issue as well.
 
Brian Knight
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I respectfully disagree. They are indeed very pesky and have worked on homes with damages in the thousands to ten of thousands of dollars range. They can be controlled, but it involves finding and having access to their holes. Its hard enough without the bees getting behind the siding/cladding or sheathing/structural wood beneath.

In my experience, they invade all appalachian wood species and most west coast species common for timber and light framing as well as siding or exterior trim. If you dont have access to the holes and do something about them, over a couple years, they can make swiss cheese of exterior wood. Of course this can attract the beautiful antics of woodpeckers if that's your kind of thing too

Iam fine with Carpenter Bees pollinating my flowers and fruit but having hidden access to my project's exterior wood, not so much.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hmmm....well, I can not speak to (of course) others conclusion about these little fellows. I can share that as a Connecticut State Supervisor in Pest and Wildlife Control that the "damage scenario" describe above is the extreme, not your general activity, nor even of most infestation if neglected. Sounds like a really bad area.

Some species will go for hardwoods, most only softwoods. Many of the more "conscientious" and/or "green" pest control companies have "mitigation modalities" for Xylocopa ssp with 10 and 20 year guarantees...so, treatments can be successful (but expensive.)

If I know an area is "heavily inundated" with these little guys to the point of exacerbating the damage as described, then I "mitigate" the wood...and do not worry about exclusion modalities like screens and poisons...but that is just me an my approach, which tends to be more natural, traditional, and/or pragmatic.
 
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