Reclaimed Siding

The exterior finish palette for my house is black/graphite aluminum windows, gray barnboard, and oxidized (i.e., rusted) cold-rolled steel. This house, by CLB Architects, basically has the same palette, except that I believe this siding is virgin cedar treated with Lifetime wood treatment.

Exterior, vertical, detail of SW elevation of main house with rusty metal siding, Healy residence/Double J Ranch, Daniel, Wyoming, Carney Architects, Willow Creek Interior Design, On Site Management


I hope to achieve more of a gray weathered look on the vertical siding, probably by using reclaimed barnboard. This house, although it is mostly faced in stone, has some nice gray barnboard as well.

Here is the cost breakdown for various siding options including both materials and installation labor:

Stucco (3 $/sq-ft)
Cold-rolled steel panels (4 $/sq-ft)
Virgin douglas fir (5 $/sq-ft)
Virgin western red cedar (6 $/sq-ft)
“Coverboard” barnboard – deliberately pre-weathered pine/fir (7 $/sq-ft)
Reclaimed barnboard ($8/sq-ft)
Reclaimed cedar picklewood ($9/sq-ft)
Reclaimed redwood picklewood ($12/sq-ft)
Stone (20-25 $/sq-ft)

If you want gray barnboard, the dilemma is whether or not to pay almost double to have your material “pre-weathered” by a 50-year-old barn or to just put up virgin douglas fir and let nature do the weathering over the next decade or so. I admit that paying double for reclaimed material is a pretty wacky post-modern kind of indulgence. We humans are strange creatures.

Trestlewood is an excellent supplier of reclaimed materials in the Rocky Mountain West. I spent an hour or so with the owner Bob Cannon at their facility in Blackfoot, Idaho. They have a useful display of siding options. Here are my photos.

3 thoughts on “Reclaimed Siding

  1. ryan W

    For the weathered barnwood…did you treat it in any way. I’m working on a house right now that I want to use barnwood siding on and I would like to treat the wood but don’t want to change the look.

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    1. KTU Post author

      I think this depends on your climate. If you are in a dry climate I would not do anything to the barnwood. I examined some 100-year-old mining shacks on the slopes near my house in Utah and the untreated douglas fir is quite sound, even with full exposure to the weather. On the other hand, pine left untreated and exposed in Vermont can rot. Although, note that much of the reclaimed barnwood comes from midwestern and eastern structures, and has lasted several decades. I am also doubtful that a “clear” coating can provide much weather protection. The painters will tell you otherwise, but I just don’t think anyone has shown that an unobtrusive coating does much, other than possibly providing a little UV protection. If you are in a wet climate, I would use one or more of the following approaches: install the siding over a drainage layer like Wrapshield HS (to ensure drying), install western red cedar and just let it weather on its own, or install pine/spruce/fir siding and pre-stain both sides. I suspect that even in a fairly wet climate, barnwood over Wrapshield HS would last 30+ years with no coatings.

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