How to Use Rough Wood for Siding

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Rough wood can create a rustic and appealing exterior siding. Historically, green or freshly milled lumber has covered the exterior of many barns. Since green wood still has a high moisture content, the material is applied in vertical strips in a method called board-and-batten. A special nailing pattern permits the wood planking to complete the drying process after it's been installed on the side of the building. A board-and-batten style of siding can also be used on your home with rough-cut wood that's completely dry.

Things You'll Need

  • Sawhorses
  • Extension cord
  • 2 tape measures
  • Rough-cut planks, 1 to 2 inches thick; width may vary from board to board
  • Speed square
  • 4-foot level
  • Framing square
  • Chalk line
  • Line level
  • 1-inch-by-4-inch furring strips
  • Table saw
  • 20-ounce framing hammer
  • Wood stain to match the natural color of the wood
  • 2-inch polyester paintbrush
  • Electric sander
  • Sandpaper
  • No. 8 galvanized box nails or stainless steel ring-shanked nails
  • No. 16 galvanized box nails or stainless steel ring-shanked nails
  • Safety glasses
  • Ear protection
  • Two assistants

Install Furring Strips

  • Set up your sawhorses. Place the 1-inch-by-4-inch wood on top.

  • Chalk horizontal lines at 2-foot intervals on the face of the appropriate wall. The first chalk line should be 2 feet above ground level, the second chalk line 4 feet, and so on until you reach the top of the wall. You need two assistants for this step. Have each assistant hold the chalk line at opposite ends of the wall space while you read the line level. When the line is level, snap the chalk line to make your horizontal mark.

  • Nail the 1-inch-by-4-inch wood planking along each chalk line, using the No. 8 ring-shanked nails. Join two pieces of furring strip with a butt joint; the joint must fall in the center of a stud. Make a butt joint by cutting each piece at a 90-degree angle with your circular saw. Slide the two pieces tightly together before nailing.

Attaching the Rough Wood

  • Sort your wood boards according to quality. Set aside approximately two-thirds of the highest-quality boards to be used as your siding planks.

  • Put on safety glasses and ear protection. Rip the remaining wood stock--about one-third of your total supply--into 2-inch wide strips with the table saw.

  • Sand any rough spots on the narrow pieces of wood, using the electrical orbital sander. Apply wood stain with a 2-inch-wide polyester paintbrush. Let the stain dry. Set these narrow boards aside.

  • Cut the wider planks to length with the circular saw and speed square. Check the cut for squareness, using the framing square.

  • Place a 4-foot level next to each board as it's being installed, to check for plumbness. Nail the board with the No. 8 or No. 10 ring-shanked nails. Pound at least three nails at 2-foot intervals into each section of furring strip.

  • Continue adding vertical boards to the row of siding. Allow a 1/4-inch gap when placing a new board next to the previous board. This space will be covered by the narrow strips of batten you made.

  • Nail the narrower batten strips into place with the 16-penny galvanized, ring-shanked nails. Place the batten in the center of each vertical seam. Nail the right half or the left half of the batten tightly into the existing boards.

Tips & Warnings

  • Unless the building is framed horizontally, you must run horizontal furring strips before installing the rough siding.
  • As an alternative to furring strips, horizontal 2-inch-by-4-inch blocks can be placed between the vertical studs at 2-foot intervals.
  • Two vertical pieces of rough lumber can be joined by making a 45-degree bevel cut at one end of each piece. The 45-degree joint should slope down, so water cannot find its way into the wood.
  • If the width of a board varies from top to bottom, rip it on the table saw to make the width even.
  • If you're installing green, rough-cut lumber, nail only on the right half or the left half of the batten.
  • Inspect used or salvaged rough lumber for insects or hidden pieces of metal before using it.

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