The natural beauty of wood has made it a choice material for exterior home siding for many decades. Wood siding choices include grooved plywood known as T-111, shingles, clapboard, solid planks and hardboard. Softwoods, such as cedar, pine and redwood, are standards because of their availability and low price compared to hardwoods. The latter material is more typically applied as shingles cut from short sections of oak or hickory. Potential problems temper the beauty of wood siding.
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Ongoing maintenance is the single biggest issue with wood exteriors. Siding must be painted or sealed every four to nine years. Painting typically requires spot scraping and sanding where old paint has lost its adhesion to the wood, a coat of primer and a finish coat of paint. Stains and sealants are less labor-intensive but still require that the wood be thoroughly cleaned before application.
When bare wood is exposed to the rain, ocean air and high humidity, the wood will eventually expand in size, and eventually rot. End grain on wood siding and the edges of plywood need protection from these elements. Paint and sealants help minimize the moisture level when applied properly. Long-term exposure to these elements will cause severe damage, and eventually the siding must be replaced. Also, long term exposure can lead to structural damage to the home’s framework.
Termites love wood and will attack a home’s wood siding once they obtain access. Bare and exposed wood or rotted areas are open invitations for a termite attack. Other insects such as ants and carpenter bees, often find wood an attractive place to nest.