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8 min read

Exterior Wood Siding: How to Elevate the Look of Your Home

Exterior Wood Siding
Exterior Wood Siding

8 min read

Exterior Wood Siding: How to Elevate the Look of Your Home

Exterior Wood Siding: How to Elevate the Look of Your Home

Are you hoping to install new exterior siding on your house or update the existing material? Exterior wood siding is surely the best option as wood is a natural insulator, durable, and aesthetically pleasing.  

What are the different wood types used as exterior siding in Canada?

Exterior Wood Siding

Cedar: A Sought-After Choice

Cedar is especially trendy and on-brand in Quebec because it's perfectly capable of withstanding the province’s harsh climate—the freezing cold winters, warm summers, and continuous freeze-thaw cycles. Weather just isn't a concern. Cedar is a prestigious softwood, one that's featured in First Nations history, symbolized as a tree of life and protector. 

Cedar wood’s natural oils and resins render it capable of withstanding two of wood’s most disastrous enemies: 

  • Wood-boring insects

  • Moisture 

You can either go with red or white cedar. The former essence mainly grows in Britsh-Colombia, in ancient forests where, fun fact, a 1,000-year-old or more red cedar was recently discovered. The latter is prevalent on the East Coast, in Nova Scotia's forests. Amongst all essences, white cedar is the most lightweight wood used in North America.

Pine: A Cost-Effective Option

You guessed it, its price point is one of the reasons why pine is commonly chosen in Quebec. It’s very cost-effective and has an estimated 25- to 50-year lifespan, making this type of wood the perfect exterior siding product. 

It’s typically retailed as either:

  • Knotty

  • Select

A “select” pine wood plank can strengthen the aesthetic look of a construction project, whereas a knotty face is still deemed quite stunning in and of itself. Much like cedar, pine is a softwood that’s perfectly suited to Quebec’s weather patterns, and is commonly found in these two essences:

  • White pine

  • Red pine 

Both types grow in forests on the Eastern coast of Canada and therefore in Quebec too. Moreover, in terms of lumber production, it was at the forefront of said province’s economy throughout the 19th century.

CanExel High-Density Fibreboard: A Modern Alternative

High-density fibreboard (HDF) is the most commonly used siding material for construction projects and is commonly referred to by its brand name, CanExel. Alongside fibre cement siding, it’s probably the most installed siding. 

It’s a siding product composed of wood fibre, waxed with alumina catalyst wax, then bonded with phenol formaldehyde resin.

Benefits of Exterior Wood Cladding

Exterior Wood Siding

Wood’s Aesthetic Appeal: An Undeniable Asset

Wood is naturally elegant, and a sure choice at every turn. Moreover, wood panels can be installed horizontally or vertically, or even in a chevron pattern, totally shifting the aesthetic look of the building it covers. 

As soon as the panels or shingles are adequately installed, meaning with waterproofed joints to prevent water from seeping beneath the surface and coated in a finishing product, the aesthetic result will definitely measure up to one’s expectations. 

For a flawless finish, prioritize light-coloured wood, as it’ll better absorb finishing products compared to dark wood. The wood will also last longer. 

Wood Plank Thermal Insulation and Soundproofing

Don’t go looking for a siding material that's a better insulator than wood. From a thermal insulation standpoint, other cladding can’t measure up since wood is: 

  • A better insulator than brick, sixfold

  • A significantly better insulator than brick, 12 times over

  • Better than steel, 350 times over

  • Boasts insulation that’s 1,500 times better than aluminum 

However, as it’s often seen, materials with great thermal insulation values aren’t as effective in terms of acoustic and phonic insulation. Wood is no exception.

With its relatively smooth and dense surface, wood doesn’t absorb much sound, instead reverberates it. Therefore, to have decent acoustic or phonic insulation, the material must absorb sound to mitigate reverberations. Albeit it’s more effective than steel or concrete, wood certainly doesn’t top the list when it comes to soundproofing a residence. 

Wood’s Durability and Strength

Typically, when properly maintained, wood siding has a lifespan circling around 30 years. When torrified, meaning it undergoes a torrefaction process—high-temperature pressure treated to completely dry it out—wood can be preserved as a whole for a 60-year period. 

The Cost of Exterior Wood Siding

Exterior Wood Siding

Price Range Per Square Foot

Torrefied Wood

CanExel

White Cedar

Red Cedar

White Pine

$12 to $15

$7 to $15

$5

$7 to $8

$3 to $4

How Wood Type and Quality Are Consequential

The cost of wood fluctuates according to numerous factors: 

  • Quality

  • Scarcity

  • Forest management policies

  • First and second wood processing rates  

In the above-depicted table, we established that the most expensive type of wood undergoes torrefaction. The steeper price point is a result of high-temperature treatments. 

The 2020 pandemic aside, the cost of wood manufacturing has remained stable over the last 60 years.

Installing and Maintaining Exterior Wood Siding

Exterior Wood Siding

Key and Detailed Installation Steps

You can find extremely detailed installation guidelines on the Internet. However, here are the CliffNotes on which to focus during the course of your siding installation endeavour.  

Step 1: Visual and tactile wall inspection

Start by making sure the flashings and air barriers are in place and installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions as well as current building codes.

Step 2: Take in the overall state of the siding supports

It rests on the following 4 factors: 

  • Condition 

  • Dimension 

  • Disposition 

  • Furring spacing 

The last point directly depends on the type of siding used. The furring strips help with the overall effectiveness of the siding since it allows for the following: 

  • Support the siding

  • Backer bars 

  • Ventilation 

Step 3: Make air spaces

To ensure the siding product breathes and allows moisture to dissipate, it’s very important to leave gaps at the bottom of the wall as well as above, and level with, the windows. Avoid filling these gaps with caulking material, otherwise your façades risk rotting from the inside.  

Step 4: Shield the surface from insects and rodents

In the National Building Code's functional statement section, F42 states that the building must be shielded from insect and vermin entry. 

Therefore, to prevent rodents and vermin from finding shelter inside your home's siding, install ventilation-aided components in each opening.

These apparatuses are retailed in the shape of: 

  • Moulding

  • Metallic moulding

  • Metallic screening

  • Rodent-proof woven wire

Step 5: Establish a level line

Using a laser level, establish a level line as a reference to install your starter plank.

Step 6: Installation

Start by securing the corner trim by lining up the bottom section with the level line. Continue installing the frame moulding around the windows and doors. Next, install a moisture barrier at the bottom of the wall. 

Then, install the first siding plank according to your reference line. Nail the next three rows, then check their levelling based on the reference line and make any necessary adjustments.

Repeat this same process for the next 4 rows, then check the level again. At every fourth plank, check the level to ensure you’re proceeding correctly.

Once you’re about to secure the last plank, cut it to maintain a 10 mm opening, and nail it in place. Naturally, you’ll want to install another moisture barrier.  

Step 7: Apply caulk

As we already mentioned, when caulking, remember to leave the intentional gaps as they are to ensure convection throughout the air space. Otherwise, moisture won’t be able to seep out from behind the cladding. 

Regular Maintenance for a Longer Lifespan

The reason why maintenance is so important is to maintain the original look of your siding. It can be done on a yearly basis via a visual inspection of:

  • the siding; and  

  • the sealed joints. 

For a more thorough inspection, start by cleaning the wood using a garden hose (not a pressure washer) and a soft-bristled brush, similar to one you'd use to wash a car. If you want to use a cleaning agent, limit yourself to products that are:

  • Ammonia-free 

  • Devoid of bleach 

  • Non-abrasive 

Thoroughly rinse the surface using a hose set on a low-pressure spray. If you spot sap on your siding during the summertime, wait until it dries before scrubbing it clean with a metal scrub brush. To clean the white dust generated from the previous manoeuvre, rinse your siding using a garden hose. Should you spot physical impacts and splatters, use the siding’s manufacturer-recommended product, and apply it to damaged areas. Limit the use of said product to damaged areas to avoid further damaging the wood’s colour. Apply the product with a paintbrush or a cotton swab if need be. 

On-Trend Exterior Wood Siding

Exterior Wood Siding

In terms of wood siding, trends haven’t changed much. Pine is still widely used on account of its cost-effective factor. CanExel is also used in a lot of construction projects.

To choose the wood type best suited to your project, we suggest looking into one essence or another based on the following: 

  • Your budget

  • Suggested finishes

  • Available colours

  • Wood’s lifespan 

Natural-Looking Elegance: The Appeal of Wood Siding

Opting for exterior wood siding is a decision that’s likely to transform and elevate your home on account of its natural-looking elegance and authentic appeal. Picking wood as an exterior siding material requires you to pay special attention to its maintenance and weatherproofing, but note that current wood processing technologies have greatly facilitated these aspects. By meticulously choosing the type of wood and adhering to maintenance guidelines, your siding can last decades, preserving its beauty and resilience.


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Last modified 2024-02-09

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