Best Home Siding Options: Reclaimed Wood, Oriented Strand Board, Fiberboard and More

From wood to vinyl, find which siding material meets your needs.

| January/February 2003

  • Salvaged barn siding is a responsible and ­pleasing option.
    Photo Courtesy Old Grain
  • Engineered wood siding and trim makes use of milling by-products.
    Photo Courtesy Georgia-Pacific

Siding works a lot like skin. It serves as the first line of defense against unwanted air infiltration (pollen, dust mites, drafts) and moisture penetration (mold and rot). If that isn’t enough, siding is the single largest exterior element. Faded, weathered siding can make a home look old before its time; new siding can make an old house look brand new.

Trying to perform this homeowner hat trick—accomplishing protection, good looks, and longevity—isn’t easy. Add environmental and health concerns to that mix, and choosing among the options gets even more confusing. Dozens of products claim to be the “ultimate answer,” but most offer only a partial solution.

Selecting the right type of siding involves balancing all of the immediate costs (material, installation, maintenance) with future costs (longevity, effects of long-term exposure, eventual biodegradability or recyclability). If possible, also try to factor in the unseen environmental costs of manufacturing and transportation.

For those considering residing, sometimes the best advice might simply be a fresh coat of paint.


Solid wood siding continues to be the most popular choice in North America because, in many ways, wood is still the ideal siding material. Renewable, locally available, requiring little production energy, and ultimately biodegradable, wood siding—bevel lap, ship lap, board-and-batten, shingles, and shake siding—is safe to cut and easy to install. But wood siding installation generates a fair amount of waste and requires frequent maintenance. Of additional concern, the desire to mill the heartwood from the most weather-resistant woods, cedar and redwood, has led to overharvesting and clear-cutting.

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: April 27-28 2019
Asheville, North Carolina

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on natural health, organic gardening, real food and more!


Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds