Durability of Board and Batten Siding

What wood species will last well unpainted in a board and batten siding application? June 9, 2007

What species would work better for board and batten siding that I plan to let age naturally, no stain - hemlock or white pine?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor T:
If you use white pine, it won't be long until you have the opportunity to replace the siding. The pine will be damaged in short time by the UV from the sun, and rot. Not a good choice for unstained siding. It will not last 10 years.

From contributor S:
I really hate being the guy on a wood related forum that keeps putting down wood, but wood should only be outside in the raw state when it is growing inside of a tree. If wood is to be left exposed to the elements, then it should be given at least a little bit of a fighting chance to last. Might I recommend a grey stain/sealer or pickle and sealer? The patina can be faked with a few processes or products and a preservative with moisture/UV/fungicide protection applied over it or as part of the process. It just seems wasteful, to me, to not try and make the wood last, unless of course the objective is to make a rapidly biodegradable building.

From contributor E:
A friend of mine sided his Wisconsin barn with white pine board and batten. If I recall, he put it up in 1982 and he never treated it. It is a beautiful gray and still solid today. Does anyone have similar experience with white pine, or should I be double checking the facts with my friend?

From contributor B:
E hemlock has been the customary wood for barns around here for a long time. There are plenty of 100 year old barns. When a barn goes, it's usually the roof that starts the problem. I have used hemlock for siding and red pine too. I keep thinking that a little red paint would spruce things up, but I haven't gotten around to it yet, and it isn't urgent.

From contributor K:
The investment made in wood siding (labor and materials) is substantial. Either extreme (immediate decay or forever) is not an accurate portrayal of any situation. If you have sound lumber in a good location, you can go for the naturally weathered look without hesitation. Your question was about species and my opinionated answer is go with the pine. I would still treat it with a stain or paint. Those products are cheap compared to the unchecked rate of degradation you get with raw wood versus the weather. That is just opinion as well.

From contributor V:
If you wanted to go all out and make this barn last a very long time, make the siding out of locust. It will be very time consuming to nail up, you may even have to pre-drill, but efforts will be worth it. It depends on what your project is all about. You could even just use a locust runner board around the bottom of the building to keep the pine siding away from snow.

From the original questioner:
I appreciate the input. There is a barn on the property that was built over 25 years ago out of hemlock. The outside walls are reverse board and batten without any treatment, and there is no noticeable decay yet. Many of the locals recommend white pine. I have both on the property and I have a WM mill, so either could be used. Unfortunately, I don't have any locust.

From contributor M:
My dad's barn was built around1920 with board and batten siding, white oak. The east side gets all the sun, as west is blocked by trees. Had to replace east side this year. Rest is 87 years old white oak and still okay. It has been painted red most of the time.

From contributor E:
On the left coast, Western red cedar and also Douglas fir are used. DF works very well and is highly sought after.