A Guide to Wood Shingle Siding

Wood shingle siding has made a come back over the past couple of decades. That's probably due to its beautiful character and ability to last for up to 100 years. Shingles really do add charm to any building, whether it's a shed, house or country cottage. They're fairly easy to install and if you use a wood such as cedar or redwood, they're naturally resistant to rot, insect and weather damage.

This guide to wood shingle siding will tell you everything you need to consider when installing this classic type of cladding to your shed.

What is shingle siding?

Shingles are basically small rectangles of wood that are attached to an exterior wall one by one, from the bottom working upwards. Each row, or course, overlaps the one below it. Shingles are usually uniform in size, machine cut to give a smooth, regular finish.

Shakes are a type of shingle that are commonly made from cedar wood. Often they are hand split, giving a much more rustic finish with different sized, irregular pieces.

The most common woods used to make shingles are cedar, redwood and treated pine. You can also buy engineered wood shingle products, such as TruWood shingles, which are extremely durable and not susceptible to rot, curling or decay.

The reality of using shingle siding

There are a number of clear advantages of using shingle siding. The most obvious is the beautiful character it gives to your shed. If you've spent a lot of money on a shed that doubles up as a pool house, outside entertaining area or spare bedroom, then shingles are a great finishing touch to add some charm to your garden or backyard.

Shingles are also pretty easy to install. You don't really need a lot of equipment to do the job - just a ladder, a good hammer, and an electric saw to cut the trim and some shingles to fit.

If you're using a wood such as red cedar then you also get the natural resistance to decay, the weather, insects and rot. They're also very tough, so a stray baseball won't dent or mark them.

Despite the clear advantages of using shingle siding, there are a number of drawbacks that you need to be aware of. Weigh these up against the unparalleled beauty of shingles and decide whether this is the right siding for you:

  • Shingles can easily splinter, crack and cup, especially in hot and humid climates. Using cedar or redwood can help to reduce this problem.
  • Moisture and mildew can occur in natural wood shingles, once again particularly in hot and humid climates. Treating your shingles every few years with a fungicide and mildew protector should help to combat this problem.
  • Maintenance - even in dry climates you'll need to treat your shingles at least every 5 years with an oil based solution. This will help to protect against rot, as well as preserving the colour of the wood and preventing it from fading to grey. However, if you're using cedar some people love the natural grey/green colour that appears after a few years.
  • Cost - shingles can be more expensive than other types of siding. However if properly treated and maintained they should last for decades. If you can't afford the initial cost of real wood shingles throughout, you could use them to make a feature on the front of your shed. Or if you're adding a porch or outside terrace, you could use them to add texture to the walls of just this part of your shed.
  • Strong winds - another clear drawback of wood shingle siding is the fact that heavy winds can easily pry them loose.
  • Flammable - wood shingles are extremely flammable. Some areas have even restricted their use so it's important to check your local building regulations before installing shingles as siding.

Tips on Installation

Wood shingle siding installation is a fairly simple process. Here are some tips to help you achieve the best quality finish:

  1. Before installing the shingles, attach a good quality shingle underlay. This will protect against moisture and water damage inside your shed.
  2. Before installation, coat each shingle with a good quality oil based preservative. Due to the size of shingles you can actually dip each one inside the pot, instead of having to brush it on. Two coats are advisable, and some experts advise a further third coat using a brush once the shingles have been applied. By using an oil to treat the shingles, this should encourage them to weather to a uniform colour.
  3. To attach your wood shingle siding, start at one of the bottom corners of your shed and begin to attach shingles in a row. Use two nails per shingle, one in the top right corner, one in the top left.
  4. It's important to offset the join between each shingle in subsequent rows. Cut a shingle in half and use this as a guide to line up your next row of shingles.

So, there you have it wood shingle siding for your shed adds character, but there are a few points that you need to watch.

As always, the choice is yours!

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