I've been thinking about building a little house lately, and I've got most everything worked out on how I'd like to do it. I haven't actually started building yet, but I am aiming for installing vertical siding made from charred wood, like this (but just for the siding) enter image description here

When I was working through my head on how it would be installed, however, I wasn't sure how to keep it from leaking. I don't want to rip a board in half and put it on the seams (batten siding), I'd like to just have straight boards without the one covering the gap.

My current thought is to nail plywood to your wall studs, and then put up a moisture barrier (tar paper, or some other type of vapor barrier) and then nail the siding to the studs as tightly together as possible.

Could someone explain the correct method to do this, or will this way work?

  • Definitely use either extra paint or tyvek on top of the sheathing or zip board as the exterior sheathing. Use shiplap siding, clear caulk in the seams, or a large eaves to keep as much water from the side of the house as possible. source: just built a shed with vertical barn board siding, stuck with the large eave as the solution. 1" x 8" x 16' rough ledger boards are $11 at Home Depot.
    – ssaltman
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 17:51
  • Since roughly the middle ages battens and/or laps of various configurations have been used. I'm not sure why you'd reinvent that wheel. Siding's job is to deflect most of the water from the building. Vapor barriers are intended mostly as a fallback. Tar paper is generally an obsolete technique, and isn't likely to seal perfectly around all your siding nails.
    – isherwood
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 18:58

2 Answers 2


The best way would be to dado the boards so they have a small overlap; some people call this "shiplap". The dado can be done on a table saw and is best with a dado blade set whose width you can adjust. Take ½ the thickness off the face of 1 board and ½ off the back. You choose the overlap from 3/8" to 1" but make them all the same. This makes a nice seal. To make it even better i.e. a water tight seal, put a very small bead of caulk on 1 of the boards prior to nailing in place.

a groove cut in the face of a board, into which the edge of another board is fixed.

  • 3
    What you describe sounds more like a rabbet than a dado
    – Niall C.
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 16:47

Ed's suggestion is fine. Another option is to assume it will leak and built to allow it to happen as a rain screen wall.

A rain screen wall has a waterproof interior, an air gap, then the exterior siding. Any water getting behind the siding can air dry within this gap.

enter image description here

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