How To Install Wood Siding

  • Working time: 1 to 2 days
  • Total time: 3 to 4 days
  • Skill level: Intermediate
  • Project cost: $600 to $800 (for a 16×8 foot wall)
  • Easy to install, long-lasting and weatherproof, wood is an excellent siding material for so many homes. Not only does wood siding add natural beauty to an exterior, but it’s also DIY-friendly.

    Wood siding installation makes sense in a way that other types of siding often do not. With wood siding, no special components are required—no clips, channels or starter strips. It’s easy to figure out how to install wood siding, and once you get started, installation proceeds rapidly.

    When to Install Wood Siding

    The climate must be dry, to avoid trapping moisture behind the moisture barrier or the siding. Acclimate the wood siding outside for at least seven days but not more than 30 days. Elevate the wood by 12 inches or more. Separate layers of siding with scrap woodblocks. Shield the stored wood to promote airflow and to keep it dry. Do not cover it with a tarp or plastic.

    Safety Considerations

    Putting wood siding on a house is relatively safe as long as the installer remains on the ground. When high rows of siding must be installed, ladder safety must be observed. The ground below the ladder should be solid and level. Stand at or below the rung indicated as the highest rung for standing.

    A considerable amount of sawing is required, so follow all-electric saw safety rules indicated with your saw’s instructions.


    • Electric miter saw
    • Circular saw
    • Hammer
    • Tape measure
    • Pencil
    • Level
    • Paintbrush
    • Caulking gun
    • Table saw (optional)
    • Paint sprayer (optional)


    • Wood siding
    • One-by-threes (as furring strips)
    • Two-by-twos (as trim strips)
    • 2-inch galvanized steel nails
    • Metal sheet screen, roll, 12-inch wide
    • Weather-resistive barrier (housewrap)
    • Wood end grain sealant
    • Paint primer or wood coating
    • Capped fasteners
    • Exterior grade caulk


    1. Measure Exterior Walls

    With the tape measure, measure the length and width of the wall. Include gables, dormers and more. For triangular areas, measure width by height, then divide the total by two. With small triangles under 8-foot width, it’s often easiest to measure width by height as if it were a square or rectangle. Subtract 15 square feet for each window and 20 square feet for each door.

    2. Order Siding

    Add another 10% to 15% to account for scrap and imperfect boards when ordering the wood siding.

    If siding quantities are expressed in terms of squares by the supplier, divide the grand total by 100. For example, 375 square feet of wall space translates to 3.75 squares. Since squares are usually sold whole, you would need to order four squares.

    Definition: Used in the siding and roofing trades, the term square is a unit of measurement that refers to 100 square feet.

    3. Prime or Coat Wood Siding

    Wood siding must be primed (if the siding will be painted) or coated (for natural-look siding) on all six sides (front and back, plus all four edges) before installation. Brushing is the best method of application. For large quantities of wood siding, using a paint sprayer is expedient and ensures even coverage.

    4. Attach Weather-Resistive Barrier

    Start at the bottom. Unroll the barrier so that it extends below the wall’s mudsill. Overlap subsequent higher rows of the barrier by 6 inches. Use capped fasteners to attach the barrier to the siding. Using capped fasteners (rather than staples) prevents air infiltration and moisture leakage.

    5. Measure For Furring Strips

    Furring strips are vertical strips of wood that offset the siding from the house sheathing. Furring strips even out the surface and allows airflow.

    You will need one vertical furring strip every 16 inches, for the entire length of the wall. Use partial furring strips over and under windows and over doors.

    6. Nail Furring Strips

    Nail the furring strips onto the wall. Place the level against the side of every furring strip to keep each strip plumb. Use two closely spaced nails every 12 to 16 inches for the length of the furring strip. Continue the furring strips for the wall length.

    7. Add Metal Screen to Strips

    As you install the furring strips, add a metal screen to the bottoms of the strips. The screen prevents rodents and larger insects from crawling behind the siding. Fold the screen lengthwise into a U-shape. Tuck one half of the screen behind the furring strip and the other half in front. Use one length of the screen for multiple furring strips for continuity.

    Instead of making your own screens, you can also purchase ventilated metallic starter strips.

    8. Cut Starter Board

    A starter board begins at the lowest row of siding boards. Use the table saw or circular saw first to cut the starter board to length. Next, rip off the starter boards’s groove. Ripping off the groove helps the siding board have a cleaner, more polished look.

    9. Apply Wood End Grain Sealant

    Use a brush to dab the ends of the cut siding boards with end grain sealant. Factory-cut ends are usually sealed and do not need additional sealing.

    10. Establish Starter Board

    Establishing a straight, level starter board is essential since it determines the levelness of the boards above. Put the starter board along the bottom of the wall. The bottom of the board should extend 1 1/2 inches below the bottom edge of the sheathing but should not be closer than 8 inches from the ground. Level the starter board by placing a bubble level on the top edge.

    11. Install Starter Board

    Have an assistant hold the level and the board while you nail the board onto the furring strips. Nail 1 inch down from the top edge of the board. Place one nail every 16 inches.

    The nail should not be recessed into the board nor should there be any space between the back of the nailhead and the board. Rather, the back of the nailhead should rest flat on the siding board.

    12. Continue Rows Lengthwise

    When continuing a row, cut the ends of the matching boards at complementary 45-degree angles. The two boards must meet over a furring strip. Nail on both sides of the 45-degree joint. Angle the nails toward the furring strip.

    13. Continue Subsequent Rows

    After the starter strip has been installed, install rows upward. After every two or three rows, check the level again. If the level is off, it can be corrected by as much as 1/8-inch.

    14. Build Inner Corners

    At inner corners, cut the two matching boards at 90 degrees. Butt one board against the wall sheathing. Butt the opposing board against the face of the first board. Nail into place. Cover the joint with two-by-two trim strips.

    15. Build Outer Corners

    At outer corners, butt the edge of one siding board against the back of the matching siding board. The distance the second siding board extends from the wall should be the thickness of the siding boards, plus the thickness of the furring boards. Cover the corner with two one-by-threes nailed into place as trim.

    16. Finish Top of Siding

    Finish the top row by running a single piece of one-by-three trim board horizontally across the wall. The top edge of the trim should maintain a 1/2-inch distance from the bottom of the soffit. Rip the topmost row of the siding to size, then nail against the bottom of the trim board.

    When to Call a Pro

    In a number of cases, you may want to call a siding company to install your home’s wood siding. If you are installing siding on your entire house, the scale of the project may be too much to do on a DIY basis.

    One-story houses that are manageable for DIYers can be difficult and unsafe when second and third stories come into play. Houses with plenty of dormers or gables can slow down DIY work and often are better suited for professionals.

    More From Advisor

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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