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Board and Batten Siding Vs. Vinyl Siding

You’ve probably seen board and batten siding on a country-style home or barn but didn’t recognize it by name. Most of us recognize vinyl siding when we see it, but only in its horizontal form. With today’s growing real estate market, both board and batten siding and vinyl siding are common, so what is the difference? Today, we will discuss what board and batten siding is, and how it compares to its cousin, vinyl siding.

source: royalbuildingproducts.com 

What Is Board and Batten Siding?

Real board and batten siding is a style of vertical siding commonly used on barns, storage buildings, and homes. Board and batten siding is a combination of wide planks (the boards) and narrow strips (the battens) that effectively shed water and protect the contents of the structure. Board and batten siding is also commonly found in the gable ends of ranch-style homes and has been copied countless times.

Due to the popularity of the board and batten style, many manufacturers have developed materials to simulate the appearance of board and batten siding, while reducing the labor required for installation. Often, these products are sold in 4’ x 8’ sheets and are described as board and batten siding. True board and batten siding, however, will involve installing battens over boards. 

Board and batten siding is formed by using battens to overlap the space between wide, vertical boards to form a watertight shell. Before the invention of materials like plywood, oriented strand board, and fiber cement, board and batten siding was used to form the exterior facade of most structures. Because lumber was more available and less expensive than brick or stone veneers, board and batten siding was the standard exterior until the industrial age.

Is Vinyl Siding Always Installed Horizontally?

Most of us are familiar with vinyl siding, primarily used as horizontal lap siding on residential homes. In most versions, the vinyl is molded to simulate either the shiplap or dutch lap siding inspired by dutch architecture. Vinyl siding, however, comes in a variety of shapes, styles, and designs and many are designed for vertical installation, like this one. As a synthetic material, vinyl siding can be molded to simulate virtually any natural wood option, like shakes, which are installed vertically. 

In fact, the vinyl siding industry has evolved to provide not just siding, but soffit and other vertically mountable siding products. Vinyl board and batten siding, like this one aim to provide the look and texture of board and batten siding without the regular maintenance required by a wooden version. Vinyl board and batten siding is installed using a nail flange and locks itself in place using a locking tab, just like the horizontal version. As such, do-it-yourselfers with experience installing vinyl lap siding will have no trouble installing the vertical version.

What Is Board and Batten Siding Used For?

Board and batten style siding is almost uniquely used in barn construction, as well as storage buildings and homes. Because board and batten siding is installed vertically, it tends to break up the horizontal visual lines of brick and lap siding. Board and batten style siding visually lends itself well to angles, so it is very commonly found in the gable ends of ranch-style homes.

Board and batten style siding can be found on starter homes as well as mansions due to its contrast to traditional horizontal exteriors, like brick and lap siding. Board and batten style siding can often be found on country-style homes, barndominiums, and even commercial buildings. Board and batten style siding is so popular in residential construction it is available in vinyl, fiber cement, aluminum, wood composites, and of course, natural wood materials. 

Is Board and Batten Siding Difficult to Install?

Generally, installing true board and batten siding will require more labor than its synthetic counterparts. Mainly due to the size of the material, true board and batten siding will also involve more components and fasteners as well. However, the process of installing board and batten siding is quite simple and can be performed by most DIYers.

When the professionals install board and batten siding they employ tools like nail guns, pump jacks, walk boards, and other tools to speed up the process. However, for homeowners looking to install less than 100 square feet, board and batten siding can be installed with common household tools. In general, if you have a circular saw, hammer, square, and a tape measure, installing board and batten siding is possible.

Is Vinyl Siding Better Than Board and Batten Siding?

Neither board and batten, nor vinyl is necessarily better than the other, just different. Vinyl products, including siding, exploit the versatility of the material. As mentioned earlier, vinyl can be molded into virtually any shape, including board and batten siding. Because vinyl is very light in comparison to traditional lumber, many installers find using vinyl board and batten siding much easier to install. 

However, even the most sophisticated vinyl siding designs cannot exactly duplicate the texture and look of real board and batten siding. For those projects requiring the use of real wood, (such as may be required by some subdivision architectural committees), board and batten siding will provide a dependable, stable exterior. In most applications, the decision of which product to use will often come down to the cost of ownership.

For example, wooden board and batten siding will require regular painting (and repairs) about every ten years or so, depending on the paint. Considering that an average exterior paint job can cost over 4000.00, the cost of ownership of real board and batten siding is significantly higher than vinyl. However, many upscale homes employ fiber cement siding as well, which also require regular maintenance, mitigating much of the additional expense.  

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