What are the pros and cons of cedar siding?

One of the most durable home siding options that boast unmatched natural beauty is cedar siding. But, like every product available, there’s a list of pro’s and con’s that you need to consider before making this investment.

The cost of cedar / shake siding.

Cedar siding generally costs between $10 - 20$ per square foot. That being said, like everything with a price tag, the sky’s the limit. Also, price isn’t everything. There are reasonable options that offer high quality and a beautiful look at nearly any budget.

The price to install varies massively depending on your home. Factors that always influence the price include how it was initially built, the age of your home, the experience and skill level previous exterior contractors or renovations experts had (if any), and if there’s been any unnoticed damage to the inside or outside of the home, such as moisture penetration. With the fine print out of the way, costs often fall between $20,000 and $30,000 for a typical house – and we’ll be the first to admit that’s it’s extremely tough to define the typical house. So, for a precise quote, please call us because there’s no obligation to purchase with our quotes.

Quick History Lesson

Historically, manufacturers transformed lumber into shake with a sawmill. Exterior siding contractors like us would then use our axes to cut the shakes by hand to fit, and the sawmill would convert some lumber into shingles. Today, for the most part anyway, all cedar shakes are produced with powered equipment. This has reduced the overall cost of cedar siding installations because it’s massively reduced the time that goes into the project.

Different Grades of Wood.

The milling industry keeps a close eye on the grade of the wood. Specifically, people are noting any knots or blemishes on the wood. Premium wood products are considered clear grades.

Most shake siding uses clear grade. But home’s that are getting a double layer of siding might use a lesser grade underneath because when it’s installed properly, there will be no exposure.

The length of the board is also important. There are two main sizes: 18 inches, or Perfection, and 24 inches, or Royal length. You’ll typically pay a premium for Royal length siding; however, you’ll need to purchase more wood for Perfection cuts to cover the same area. We will discuss the pro’s and con’s of this when providing the quote.

The style of your wood siding.

The color and the bottom edge (also known as the butt-end) of the shake two other factors you need to be aware of when selecting your siding. The color of your wood primarily arises from the type of tree it’s produced from. So, lighter colors trees come from white cedar. Darker colors come from red cedar. And the thickness and design patterns come from the way it’s cut.

One last distinction between shingles and shake: the thickness of the lower edge. Shingle maintains its uniformity at 3/8th an inch. Shake will range from half an inch to 7/8ths of an inch. A hand-split shake piece will sometimes even exceed 1-inch thickness.

The most recognizable kind of cedar shake looks like it has a flat bottom edge. It stands out as a sharp horizontal line across the home.

A Staggered pattern shies away from uniformity, instead, boasting a bottom edge that doesn’t align. It also features irregular widths.

The bottom edge has it’s own variations. Like above, the most common are straight across or squared. Other options include round, fish scale, pointed, octagonal, arrow, and diagonal. But please note, fancier cuts like this mean higher price tags. Make sure to ask us about this, though, because if we are buying bulk and have an additional project on the go interested in these sorts of options, we might be able to cut the price down a bit.

Staining Cedar Siding

Staining or painting your shake is important. A clear stain retains the natural beauty that people often buy wood siding for. The stain doubles down on value because of the added protective coating it provides that wards off insects or can make the material more resistant to fire.

Both of these processes are labor-intensive. So, we recommend that you select a pre-stained or pre-primed shake. This isn’t typically more expensive than a non-finished material, and will definitely save you some money on labor costs after it’s installed.

Additional Considerations

  1. Out of all the shake siding options available on the market, remember that shake and shingle installations are generally the most expensive because of the labor involved. This is because each individual piece takes longer to install 8 to 16 foot boards or panels.
  2. On the plus side, wood shake has an R-value near 1 (about .9). This is higher than non-insulated materials, like hollow-back vinyl and aluminum siding. And it’s significantly better than a single coat of stucco, brick or stone veneer.
  3. If you’re after increased insulation, almost nothing beats a double layer of shake. This will rival most other siding options.
  4. Because it’s wood siding, and because you want your investment to last a long time, an experienced exterior siding contractor needs to perform the installation.

In short:

A few Advantages

  1. Unprecedented natural beauty: probably #1 one reason people choose this material.
  2. Rather inexpensive: when you compare it to other wood options, sometimes more, but when you compare it to fiber cement, a bit less.
  3. Beauty + a moderate expense = a decent ROI: typically, other wood siding options definitely don’t have the ROI that cedar shake routinely has (nearly 80%!!!).
  4. And durability: it resists rot and insects better than most other wood sidings
  5. Insulation: will definitely keep the heat in and the cold out when installed properly and remains maintained.

A few Disadvantages

  1. Maintenance: set a timer and have it refinished every 10 years or so.
  2. Untreated or poorly maintained wood will burn rather quickly, be prone to insects, moisture leak, rot, etc.
  3. Repairs: while they’re possible, time does age wood, and matching layered styles present a challenge.

We hope this helps you better understand shake and wood siding. If you have any more questions or are interested in a quote, please call or email us.