Real Estate

Everything you need to know about siding

Wood siding

This article was originally published in the May 2016 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

Like a person’s clothing, a building’s exterior siding speaks to its character, as well as protecting the structure from the elements. Shakes, board and batten, clapboard, sheets—the options are many, and so are the materials they’re made from. Installed properly, any siding can deflect water, resist rot, and block pests. But when you consider siding, don’t decide based on looks alone. Weigh the difficulty of installation, the maintenance needed, and the material’s durability.


The original cottage siding remains a favourite for its looks and sustainability. It’s relatively easy to cut and install, but because the lumber industry now relies on younger trees with more knots, the quality and longevity of wood siding is not always what it once was. Plus, maintaining a stained or painted finish on wood requires ongoing work and cost.


Why is vinyl used so often? It’s inexpensive, simple to install, and requires nothing more than an occasional power wash. Newer vinyl products come in more designs than just clapboard-style strips. Drawbacks? Vinyl can become brittle in the cold, it can be a challenge to replace on your own if damaged, and it often looks like it’s made of plastic. Because it is.

Engineered options

Glued particleboard, fibre-cement, and other engineered siding materials are long-lasting, low-maintenance, rot- and pest-resistant stand-ins for wood. Formed in shingles, planks, or flats and available in a range of colours, these siding options allow plenty of creativity. Caution: most engineered siding must be kept off the ground to avoid water damage, and when cutting, you need to take extra precautions to avoid inhaling sawdust.