Panel Siding

Different types of panel siding.

The quickest way to side a house is to install panel siding, also called sheet siding. The sides have shiplap edges so that one piece laps onto its neighbor. The most common panel size is 4 by 8 feet, but sheets 10 and 12 feet long are also available and are worth the extra weight if they eliminate horizontal butt joints.

Rough-Sawn Plywood

Rough-sawn plywood, called Texture 1-11 (or T1-11), has been a popular siding option for many years. However, this product can buckle, warp, or even come apart if it is not installed correctly and kept well sealed. The cheapest types must be sealed with primer and two or more coats of exterior paint and attached with nails every 16 inches. Higher-end products are thicker, use better wood and glue, and come with a first coat of sealer. Stain-grade panels have no football-shape patches. Typically these panels have vertical grooves (the panels should be installed upright, so water will not sit in the grooves). The grooves may be evenly or variably spaced.

Smooth-Sided Panels

Smooth-sided panels are often used to create a faux board-and-batten look. Alternatively the joint between panels can be covered by a single batten.

Fiber-Cement Panels

You can also buy fiber-cement panels, made of the same material as fiber-cement lap siding. A preprimed panel will save you time because the backs of these panels should be painted before installing.

Pressed Hardboard Panels

At the lowest end, pressed hardboard and OSB panels come with embossed surfaces that are covered with a thin coating that is somewhat hard. These materials need to be completely sealed with several coats of paint at all points or they will soak up water like a sponge.


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