What makes tropical decking so attractive for outdoor flooring also makes it ideal for use as rainscreen siding. After all, an exterior species offers the kind of weather resistance that we want for the cladding of a home, locking out moisture and creating a winsome appearance.
Differences from Traditional Siding
Traditional wood siding is installed via screws or nails, usually utilizing a tongue-and-groove joint to connect edges to one another. Of course, tropical decking is popularly installed using hidden clip fastener systems. So why not use those same systems to clad your home without having to create unsightly holes? A clip system allows you to consistently space the boards, while allowing for a gap that will open and close due to seasonal shifts in moisture content. The finished product is a beautiful siding that will stand up to the elements.
Unique Installation Issues
In order to be used as siding, decking boards need to be routed with grooves to allow the clips to hold the siding. Between the clips, an open groove emerges, allowing for water collection or insect nesting. A traditional tongue-and-groove method allows the groove to be filled in along the entire length, eliminating that potential problem.
Each clip system manufacturer has its own way of preventing such potential problems. Some tuck the groove behind a beveled edge, disallowing water from getting into it; while that method accounts for the water, it does nothing to prevent insects. If you choose an insect-resistant species, you will avoid potential problems. Still, however, a long drip edge can cause uneven absorption of moisture, causing potential buckling of the siding.
Since tropical decking species like Ipe and Cumaru can handle some standing water on horizontal surfaces, shedding water from vertical surfaces such as siding really won’t be a problem.
Differences from Vinyl Siding
Remember that no matter where decking is installed, it is not a finished product. Many tropical decking species travel far and go through a lot before they make their way to U.S. shores, and then from our lumber yard to your job site. You will likely need to sand and brighten your rainscreen siding after it has been installed, in order to provide the kind of rich appearance you’re after.
Like any real wood products, tropical decking and rainscreen siding are organic materials that will not be perfectly color matched; however, they will blend together over time. (If you desire a perfect match, you may need to go with a synthetic material, instead of real wood. Here at J. Gibson McIlvain, we do carry one such product, NuCedar, that is ideal for home cladding.)
We expect tropical decking products to become increasingly popular as rainscreen siding. The beauty and durability combine with easy installation to make it a win-win solution for home cladding.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
For more information on J. Gibson McIlvain’s lumber products and services, call Monday-Friday toll free (800) 638-9100 to speak with one of their representatives.