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How To Choose The Right Wood Siding For Your Project

Selecting wood siding for a new build or remodel is one of the most important decisions a homeowner makes. You want your home to convey your personality and style, and have great curb appeal.  As a major expenditure, you also want your siding choice to increase the value of your home.

Trying to make wood siding decisions, but not sure how to start?  There are seven key points of consideration when choosing wood siding – wood species, wood grade, pattern/style, wood finish, installation, future maintenance, and budget.

Focusing on these seven key points will guide you through the questions you’ll need to answer and closer to a decision in choosing the right wood siding for you.

How To Choose Wood Siding: Wood Species

For most of us, we want our wood siding decision to be a once-in-a-lifetime decision. You don’t want to re-side your home because the siding rotted away. 

Siding is milled from many wood species.  Know what species is used and how well that wood holds up over time against outdoor elements.

You want wood that is going to last a long time.  A species that is rot and insect resistant.  Cedar is a perfect choice for a durable wood.  Finished and installed correctly cedar siding will last a lifetime.

In additional to being durable, cedar is beautiful. Cedar siding adds curb appeal and value to your home.

Clear Grade vs Mill Select Grade
Clear Grade vs Mill Select Grade

How To Choose The Right Wood Siding: Wood Grade

There are several wood grades to be considered. 

Clear Grade, with virtually no knots; the finest appearance grade wood siding with the highest price point. 

Near Clear Grade with some tight knots and a lot of clear wood at a nice price point. 

And, budget friendly Customer Select Grade and Mill Select Grade. Both are knotty with a lot of character (we love character!).

Shingle Siding Pattern vs Modern Siding Pattern
Shingle Siding Pattern vs Modern Siding Pattern

How To Choose The Right Wood Siding: Pattern/Style

Don’t let pattern and style choices overwhelm you; narrow your scope. Do you lean toward contemporary, traditional, rustic, or eclectic? Are you trying to complement homes in your neighborhood? Following guidelines set by an HOA? Or, located where you can be wild and free with your design choices? 

Take a drive, look at homes with wood siding, and see what grabs your attention. If you can, take photos. Referencing them can help you work toward your final pattern and style choice and will help your wood vendor, designer/architect, and installer understand the look you’re trying to achieve.

Just like with that first child, everyone will have an opinion. Seek advice from professionals. Your wood vendor, designer/architect, and installer should have years of experience to draw from.

Ask questions. What patterns work best with my style choice? Does wood grade affect the aesthetic of my style? Can I mix materials?  Does stone or metal complement wood? Will my style and pattern choice affect future maintenance?

Log Style Home vs Eclectic Siding Home
Log Style Home vs Eclectic Siding Home
Stain Finish Siding vs Painted Finish Siding
Stain Finish Siding vs Painted Finish Siding

How To Choose The Right Wood Siding: Finishing Options

Finishing options can be confusing. There are many types of finishing products and hundreds of color choices. 

Do you want paint or stain? What type of paint is used on wood? Does wood require priming? What is the difference between water-based and oil-based stains? What’s semi-trans and semi-solid stain

How many years can I expect my finish to last?  Does finishing my wood siding affect the life of my wood? Does my location and environment impact my finish longevity?

Should I have my wood pre-finished at the mill or finished on-site

You’ll have a lot of questions. You need a good knowledge base to draw from. While we have several resources on our Buffalo Lumber website, we’ve also created our Wood Lovers University to provide you with more answers to your finishing questions.

Wood Siding Installation
Wood Siding Installation

How To Choose Wood Siding: Installation

Installation is labor.  And labor is expensive. Labor can be approximately 25-30 % percent of your budget.  It’s a big chunk of change.  

Installation is also extremely important to the longevity and aesthetics of your wood siding.  You want an experienced wood siding installer, not a vinyl siding or composite plank installer. The nuances of wood siding require experience for a correct install that is also visually pleasing.

You’ll get what you pay for. Asking the right questions is key to knowing if you have the right installer.  

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, brush up on key installation how-to’s and you’ll be saving yourself a lot of money. Our experience has been that DIYers are thorough when it comes to reading the literature and install instructions, take their time with the installation, and do a fantastic job.

Wood Siding Maintenance
Wood Siding Maintenance

How To Choose Wood Siding: Future Maintenance 

Wood siding requires maintenance! And here’s where we separate the #woodlover from the wannabe. 

True wood lovers get that tingle of satisfaction every time they set eyes on their wood siding and they don’t mind a bi-annual trek around their home’s exterior to make sure the siding is in tip-top shape.

Wood lovers take pride in cleaning and refinishing their wood siding to maximize its longevity and beauty.  

Your finishing choices will have a direct bearing on the level of maintenance required. You could be refinishing every few years, or eight years, or 20 years. 

At a minimum there should be a yearly inspection and cleaning of your wood siding. It’s a commitment. 

How To Choose Wood Siding: Budget

You’re considering all the options; now do your homework to determine your priorities. 

Your budget plays a major role in your choices. Bear in mind that spending a bit more up front may help reduce costs down the road. 

Consider opting for premium wood that will last a lifetime versus a wood species that won’t hold up more than a few years before wood rot sets in.  

How do you feel about knots?  We think knots add character, but are knots something you can live with and not regret the choice? 

If you’re not sure, choosing a more expensive grade, with fewer knots, may be for you. 

Don’t forget how important a professional installation is. Don’t skimp here.

Your siding pattern, finishing, and future maintenance costs need consideration, as well. 

… Now set your final budget. 

In Summary

Working through these seven key points of consideration will help you organize the process of choosing the wood siding that’s right for you. 

Take your time. You want to make the right choice, one time. You don’t want regrets.

Maybe you’ve decided that wood siding isn’t for you, after all. That’s okay! You’ve learned a lot about wood siding ownership. Be confident with your decision. Wood siding isn’t for everyone.

High Five, Wood Lovers

If you have questions or are ready for a quote, our wood siding experts are available M-F 8am-5pm (CT).
Check back. We’ll dive deeper into some of the key points of consideration in up-coming posts.

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