skip to main content

How To Choose The Right Wood Siding Installer

Wood siding is a significant investment. So, you want to make sure your wood siding installation is done right. A correct installation will ensure maximum durability and longevity of your wood siding. And, a great installation will reflect your style, have terrific curb appeal, and add value to your home. 

But how do you guarantee your project secures a solid wood siding installation outcome? By confirming you've hired an experienced wood siding installer! In this article we'll review:

  • Incorrect vs. correct wood siding installation examples
  • Qualities of an experience wood siding installer
  • How to determine if someone is an experienced wood siding installer
  • Basics of correct wood siding installation
  • And our wood siding installation video series

It is said that 99% of reported wood siding problems are installation related. There’s a right way to install wood siding and a wrong way. Your investment deserves the best possible installation.

Not doing it right can cost thousands of dollars to fix. There are technical aspects of installing real wood siding, which are extremely important to the durability and longevity of your wood. And, the aesthetic aspects of installation – is it pleasing to the eye and does it have great curb appeal?

Beware of the installer with an attitude of ignorance (doesn’t actually know how to do the job correctly), arrogance (“I’ve installed millions of square feet.”), or apathy (“I don’t have to have this job.”), as these are indicative of a general lack of concern for your installation.

Take just a minute to read about one of our commercial installations with installer issues. We utilized Buffalo Lumber’s friend and master installer, Dennis Beachem, to give a few critical lessons on the technical aspects of wood siding installation, technique, and pride of workmanship.

Incorrect vs Correct Wood Siding Installation

Incorrect vs Correct Installation of Channel Lap Siding
Incorrect vs Correct Installation of Channel Lap Siding

Our customer’s photo, above left, shows incorrect installation by an inexperienced wood siding installer. The photo on the right is the same job, correctly installed.

Many siding installers will say they can install your wood siding, regardless of having the know-how. Read our short tale about a bad installation  – fortunately, our customer inspected his installer’s work early in the process, saw problems, stopped the job, and contacted us.

Learn from his experience. Check your installer’s work, sooner rather than later! Our founder, Chris Buffalo, will tell you people don’t do what you expect; they do what you inspect.

Today’s installations have leveled up compared to bygone eras. Homeowners are looking for installs that show off their personality and style. They aren’t looking for cookie-cutter or to blend in. Trends are mixed materials, multi-directional installations, multiple pattern combinations, and contrasting color patterns. You need a truly experienced wood siding installer to make this happen.

Mixed materials, patterns, and multi-directional install
Mixed materials, patterns, and multi-directional install

Qualities of An Experienced Wood Siding Installer

An Experienced Wood Siding Installer :

  • Can offer solid references from business associates and previous customers.
  • Is willing to take the time to understand your design style and your vision.  
  • Works through issues that might arise, to everyone’s satisfaction. 
  • Has an understanding of effective water deflection and drainage, including splash back issues.
  • Is familiar with “gap” technology – the air gap behind your siding and why it’s necessary.
  • Can achieve level and plumb, even on the oldest building. 
  • Understands real wood expansion and contraction and installs with this in mind.
  • Knows the possible challenges with vertical siding installations.
  • Is familiar with multi-directional and multiple patterns installs.
  • Can hand nail and gun nail wood siding, and knows the best use of both.
  • Will be familiar with wood mill patterns and how they’re typically installed, including the type of nails that should be used. 
  • Is prepared to seal the ends of every board during installation.
Ends not sealed – outcome water stains
Ends not sealed – outcome water stains

A great installer takes the time to sort the planks by color and size and has a good overall awareness of the materials at hand.

A great installer has an understanding of the nuances of wood tone variations and can blend light and dark planks for a uniform, visually pleasing outcome – no stark contrasts and the colors of the wood siding blend together gently.

Examples of Good & Bad Wood Siding Installation

Cedar T&G Planks of Varying Tones Blended For Balance
Cedar T&G Planks of Varying Tones Blended For Balance

A great installer has an eye for detail, an exceptional work ethic, and takes pride in each installation. 

At a minimum, you want a bona fide wood siding installer with enough experience to know wood siding installation encompasses more detail work than vinyl or composite siding installation, and sets a fee commensurate with the necessary work. That’s about 33% more than an inexperienced wood installer would charge. 

Your best bet for a great installation is a great installer. Remember, you get what you pay for. Don’t skimp on your wood siding installation. It’s the crucial component for success in achieving your vision, outstanding curb appeal, and the longest life of your wood.

The photo below shows wood siding installed to the ground with splash back damage. It’s important to keep siding at least 18 inches off the ground if possible. 

Splash back damage
Splash back damage

The installation, in photo below, was done right. It includes rain gutter, down spouts, and overhangs to deflect water away from siding; stone at the ground level to minimize splash back; behind the siding is rain screen to provide air space, and factory pre-finish at the mill for back sealing the wood.

Cedar Siding Installation Done Right
Cedar Siding Installation Done Right

How To Determine If Someone Is An Experienced Wood Siding Installer

How can I know if someone has the experience and the attributes listed above? Seems like I’d have to be one to know one!

Knowing the questions to ask, and the answer you should expect, will make the job of finding the right installer so much easier.

Buffalo Lumber has an Installation Video Series; each video less than 10 minutes, that will give valuable insight into some of the basics of correct wood siding installation.

Basics of Correct Wood Siding Installation:

  1. Level and Plumb offers old-timer’s tips and tricks to finding level and plumb.
  2. Wall Prep and Gap Technology explains why water drainage behind the siding is a must.
  3. Vertical Installation Mistakes suggests options for overcoming challenges of vertical installs.
  4. Setting Up A Saw Station reinforces the importance of a good work/saw station.
  5. Hand vs Gun Nailing details the pros and cons of hand nailing vs gun nailing.
  6. Cedar Siding Expansion and Contraction demonstrates expansion and contraction and how to prepare for it in installation.
  7. Seal Your Ends illustrates the importance of sealing the ends of each board.

All of the videos in our installation series may not necessarily apply to your particular installation, but these videos will arm you with the knowledge to make an informed decision in choosing a wood siding installer. 

This Video Series also includes Prepping Cedar to last a long time and Stacklimation for proper wood stacking and acclimation. Two important first steps to ensure your wood siding project starts on the right path to a successful installation.

In Our Experience

The installation process is key to the longevity of your wood siding and to the overall aesthetic of your project. 

Wood siding installed incorrectly or poorly can expect failure at some level.

An installer’s knowledge of real wood siding characteristics and experience working with wood siding are important factors in defining the level of expertise.

An experienced wood siding installer will be about 33% more expensive than an inexperienced installer; you get what you pay for.

A review of Buffalo Lumber’s Installation Video Series gives the layman a solid knowledge base to aid in choosing the right wood siding installer.

Don’t forget, achieving the longest life from your wood siding will include waterproofing it. Water can be your siding’s worst enemy, but finishing your boards all the way around before installation can guard against moisture incursion. And a bonus – factory finishing costs less than on-sight finishing. 

To keep your siding’s beautiful wood tones, finish it with UV protectant. The sun’s rays will turn your wood to a silvery gray without it. You can get waterproofing and UV protection in a single finish product, clear or with color, pre-finished on your wood at the mill.

Visit Buffalo Lumber’s Community website for valuable information on wood siding ownership.

Until next time, Wood Lovers!

Need to know Guides
Wood Lover's University
A comprehensive education for wood lovers of all types

Homeowners, protect your heart and wallet. Architects, desig...

Wood Siding Installation Tips
Common Sense Wood Siding Seasoning, Storage and Installation Tips for Do It Yourself Homeowner and Builder

It's not rocket science but it has to be done right. Our DIY...

Field or Factory?
When does it make sense to Factory Finish?

A FACTORY FINISH ensures a lasting, higher quality job than ...

Signup to our newsletter

Don't miss out on expert tips & design inspo!

Latest Blogs
We deliver everywhere

National Shipping and Delivery

We carry products from suppliers located all across the country so each delivery will be calculated based on location of customer, location of product manufacturer and weight of total shipment. See Areas we ship to and Delivery Information.

International Shipping and Delivery

Buffalo Lumber offers full 20 and 40 foot container quotes internationally. Europe, Asia, Africa - anywhere a container will go we can get it there. We can only quote full 20 and 40 foot containers - smaller shipments would be customer arranged.

Buffalo Lumber Company, Inc., Lumber - Retail, Woodbury, TN BUFFALO LUMBER  on HOUZZ

Making mistakes - Fixing something that goes wrong costs 10 times more than it does to do the job right in the first place. Consult with a Buffalo Lumber Milling Expert today.

We can help - Call Buffalo