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I'm building a rustic cabin this summer and looking to keep construction cheap and simple.

Are there sheathing materials that can double as siding that folks would recommend? The cabin is small, 12'x 16' and I want to build 2ft on center with rough cut 2x6s.

I've consider T1-11 as an option, though I've started to notice a lot sheds around with pretty crappy, weather beaten looking T1-11, so I am now questioning the quality of that product. I live in Vermont, which is pretty wet and cold. Other ideas I have considered:

  • 3/4" exterior rated plywood, trimmed to cover seams and with some vertical strips, for kind of a faux-board and batten look

  • Shiplap nailed straight onto studs. I have an old garage at home done this way, which is still standing (seems like this was a common practice around here way back when). A sawmill near me makes shiplap that is cheaper per board foot than plywood.

Other ideas welcome. Thanks!

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    Biggest problem I've seen with T1-11 (first hand experience, vacation house in the mountains) is water wicking up into the bottom edge of the siding, especially when the siding rests on a piece of z-channel flashing. Other than that, if you keep it painted/stained, should last many years, though not as long a cement board. – SteveSh Mar 3 at 18:06
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Although this is asking for product recommendations I think discussing different types is ok. I have not used Hardie Board without sheathing but believe it is listed for use without sheathing. A buddy of mine really likes the cement panels they make. I have not used it but he started using it ~10 years back I have used their plank products when properly installed it looks good for decades. (It really holds the paint better than wood products on the work I have done).

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The question is too broad/opinion-based/shopping-related, but I'll make a couple suggestions...

  • 3/4" plywood is extremely heavy for walls. Unless you need to repel grizzly bears, use 1/2" or 5/8". I'm not sure how this is an improvement over T1-11, though, which is also just exterior plywood (usually fir) with grooves. Maybe you meant pressure-treated plywood, which is expensive but would add 5-10 years to its life.
  • "Crappy, weather-beaten" siding is a result of neglect, not the particular siding. There's no wood product that won't need routine maintenance to last and look good. If you want to forget about it for a decade, put OSB sheathing up and slap on vinyl.
  • Shiplap is fine, but it's not going to last longer than plywood. With its horizontal edges it allows for standing water. I'd maybe go with rabbeted lap siding instead if you can source it cheaply. The advantage either has is that you can more easily replace just the bottom board, which is where rot tends to occur. You'll want to back it with felt or housewrap to keep airflow down and reduce insect intrusion.
  • With all these wood options, the key to longevity is sealing and weather handling. Paint or seal it front and back before you install and then recoat the exposed faces after. Use good, large flashings at windows and doors where rainwater tends to accumulate. Keep it off the ground and out of the snow.
  • Go 16" centers with your studs. It's maybe 6 more for your shed and results in flatter walls and more shelf backing inside. Don't forget to crown them.
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  • Points taken @isherwood. Thanks for the info. I may repost a more focused question. Part of what I am wondering about (which wasn't clear) is how much rigidity the siding layer adds to a structure vs using sheathing only. – 4restg Mar 3 at 20:59
  • It's your primary diagonal bracing, so it's critical. Even individual shiplap adds a lot. – isherwood Mar 3 at 21:13
  • I do agree sheathing adds a huge amount and I have used additional sheathing even with products that were listed for use without it. – Ed Beal Mar 4 at 14:26

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