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What You Need to Know about Vertical Siding

   Go for an Unconventional, Contemporary Look in Your New Home


Little did the early settlers know that they were on to what would be a hot trend when they started building their homes by using – and nailing – sawn boards cut from trees up and down across their dwellings, and over the cracks where the boards came together. As the colonists came to the New World, they built homes and protected them from the harsh winters by adapting a concept that was already popular in Europe – board-and-batten vertical siding. 

Fast forward to the 21st century – where vertical siding is a trendy, versatile, and popular design feature that gives traditional homes a contemporary, stylish look as well as depth to the homes exterior. Finished in shades of white as well as other neutrals, todays vertical siding is bright, attractive, and appealing.

How can you achieve this vibe to give your home a dramatic exterior or to highlight its architectural features?

There are a number of ways to make your home striking and eye-catching on its exterior facade, entryways, gables, and even interior elements.


Board-and-Batten Siding

A centuries-old design, board and batten is a siding and paneling style that uses wide vertical planks (boards) and thin battens nailed over the seams of the wide boards. Introduced by the early European settlers in America, the board-and-batten technique was an alternative to the log cabin.

Board-and-batten siding was inexpensive, simple to assemble, and energy-efficient, so it became popular with farmers who used the design for their barns and garden sheds. Because so many of the barns in North America were constructed with boards and battens, the style is also called “barn siding.”

From the first barn structures, board-and-batten siding has moved to the informal and homey architectural styles like Country and Cottage style homes. With the variety of available materials – wood, composite, aluminum, and vinyl – board and batten siding is used today to give traditional Ranch and Farmhouse designs a more contemporary appearance and appeal.

Some designers use extra-wide panels as primary siding with the batten strips as decorative accents, while others use closer-spaced battens. In the case of a modern farmhouse that uses board-and-batten siding for the entire exterior, its recommended to have wider spacing between the battens to create an elegant and clean aesthetic. 

Red barn with an apartment on the left and an upper-level hayloft in the center

A contemporary barn – with a 741-square-foot-apartment on thr right side– features an attractive exterior facade of board-and-batten siding. The apartment includes one bedroom, a full bathroom, living room, eat-in kitchen, and laundry room. There are two horse stalls, hay storage, and a tack/feed room on the left; drive-thru tractor storage through its center; and a hayloft upstairs (Plan #141-1300).

White Farmhouse style home with detached garage connected by a breezeway.

Take a look at how board-and-batten paneling is used to give this charming two-story Farmhouse style home an elegant aesthetic. The boards on the exterior facade and the garage are spaced widely to achieve clean lines. Darker colors are used for the awning and breezeway for a spash of color. The 1,757-square-foot home has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and an eat-in kitchen, walk-in pantry, family room, main floor laundry, and loft (Plan #100-1211).


Beadboard Paneling

If you want to create something interesting or more decorative with your walls, go for a “row of narrow wood planks lined up vertically on the wall,“ with a little indentation or ridge – also known as a bead – in between each wood plank. Beadboard paneling is versatile in that it can be used anywhere in the house – on ceilings, on the kitchen backsplash, or in bathrooms. An inexpensive alternative to tile, beadboard is durable, can be painted in any color and installed at any height. And it’s made not only of wood but also vinyl and medium density fiberboard.

Before technological advances, beadboard siding consisted of individual boards that were installed on walls. Today, it may come in easy-to-install sheets that look like the older beadboards but can be mounted with glue and nails – ideal for a quick do-it-yourself adventure.

Hallway mud room with beadboard-lined coat storage

This otherwise basic coat rack in the mudroom of a one-story, four-bedroom Country style home becomes more interesting and attractive with the addition of beadboard paneling. The sprawling 5,144-square-foot home features a covered front porch, an outdoor kitchen, a grilling porch, two master suites, an eat-in kitchen with kitchen island, and other amenities (Plan #153-1904).

Gray wall with beadboard wainscoting below artwork that hangs above it

This gray wall becomes livelier with the framed art, white chair rail, and vertically oriented beadboard wainscot paneling on the lower half of the wall (photo by Rexy Legaspi).


V-Groove Paneling

V-Groove panel is made up of bevel-edge boards that are usually wider than beadboard segments and that, when joined together in tongue-and-groove joints, result in V-shape recesses between the boards. While wood is the preferred material, especially for exteriors, V-Groove planks can be made from fiberboard, vinyl, fiber cement, and metal. You can achieve the same look as assembled V-groove boards by using 4-foot-by-eight-foot or larger sheet panels that are fabricated with V grooves cut into them and made from plywood or medium density fiberboard (MDF). Youll need to paint these panels, however, and not leave them with a natural or stained finish.

Pine V-groove paneling

Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) V-groove sheet paneling

Top: Look closely at the recess between the joined planks of this panel, and youll see that the beveled edges of each board form a V-Groove (photo source: Stonewood Products). Bottom: This sheet panel, made from medium-density fiberboard (MDF), has channels cut into it in a V-groove shape to mimic the look of individual boards joined together (photo source: Elite Trimworks). 


In addition to exterior facades, V-Groove siding provides homeowners with a few interior decor options. For example, you can have V-Groove panels for kitchen walls or bathrooms. Or make a statement with an accent wall, backsplash, ceiling, or fireplace surround. Its clean lines – in contrast to the ornate look of beadboard – are more suited to a modern setting and give traditional Farmhouse, Cottage, and Country style houses that contemporary yet homey and soft vibe. 

Modern style home with vertical and horizontal siding

This stunning Contemporary style home is made more interesting by the use of contrasting V-groove vertical and clapboard horizontal siding. The one-story home with 3,338 square feet of living space features three bedrooms, three baths, and a covered rear patio and huge outdoor living area (Plan #202-1025).


Shiplap Siding

Thanks to HGTV and its many shows on renovating and fixing homes to make them fabulous, people are most familiar with shiplap. How many times have you seen TV designers using this paneling on exteriors, entryways, accent walls, powder rooms, fireplaces, and kitchens?

Comprising overlapped rabbet-jointed boards that form long vertical or horizontal panels, shiplap is good choice for areas with harsh or rainy climates – because its overlapping boards and panels shed water and snow very well. While typically associated with cabins, cottages, farmhouses and other rustic type homes, shiplap is also a good fit in modern and contemporary houses.

According to Sheila Bonnell of FRAMe Architecture & Design, shiplap “creates texture in such a clean, unfussy way, it can work just as well in a contemporary setting.… Because it is handcrafted, it can add warmth to what might be a more austere modern setting. Or, conversely, because it has a very clean line, particularly when painted, it can be used to make a historical setting feel more contemporary.”

Shiplap siding showing the overlapping rabbet joint that defines the style

Shiplap siding may be installed vertically but is traditionally installed horizontally. The boards, usually up to 16 feet in length, are milled with rabbet joinery on each edge to form an interlocking joint with a tight seam. Unlike V-groove, beadboard, and board-and-batten styles, shiplap does not have a strong visible joint (photo source: TruExterior Siding & Trim).


Vinyl Vertical Siding

Another popular vertical siding material is vinyl, a bold, long-wearing, and virtually maintenance-free option for the home’s exterior. It has the look of freshly painted wood, comes in a variety of styles, and colors, particularly white – and new darker tones – that add a contemporary feel to the home.

Why go with vinyl? Its durable, looks like wood but is more budget-friendly, low-maintenance, and resistant to damage from harsh weather conditions, moisture, and insect infestations.

There are three popular vinyl siding styles tfrom which to choose: board and batten, beadboard, and chamfer board.


Board and Batten

If rustic is your vibe, you cannot go wrong with board and batten siding. Conventional wood board and batten runs up and down the house and consists of wide boards with a smaller board, or "batten," that seals the opening where the two wide boards meet. Vinyl sheet products mimic this look but require much less installation time and are maintenance-free over time.

Vinyl board-and-batten-look siding

Country Farmhouse style home with board-and-batten siding and wrap-around porch

Top: Vinyl board-and-batten-look siding panels come in a variety of different colors and textures (photo source: Ply Gem). Bottom: This 1.5-story Country Farmhouse style home packs on the charm and curb appeal with the interesting combination of materials for its exterior facade: vinyl vertical siding plus brick. The gorgeous home has an open floor plan, 1,988 square feet of living space, three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and a powder room (Plan #117-1139).



Vinyl beadboard replicates the look of traditional wood beadboard, which is usually composed of two- to three-inch-wide tongue-and-groove beaded boards, except that the vinyl sheet product is embossed with multiple rows of "boards." The main advantage of vinyl beadboard is that its maintineance-free, in that it doesnt need to be painted, and is weather and pest resistant.

Beadboard-look paneling in vinyl

Often used for ceilings and soffits, vinyl beaded can be used in a vertical application for walls – both interior and exterior – as well. Perfect as an accent treatment, the siding is weather and pest resistant and never needs to be scraped, painted, or stained (photo source: Georgia Pacific). 


Chamfer Board

Similar to vinyl board-and-batten and beadboard siding, chamfer-board siding is made to look like its wood prototype in sheets instead of strips, which makes installation so much easier and faster. The channels between the "boards" resemble those in V-groove paneling but are wider and deeper with straighter sides. As with vinyl beadboard, chamfer board may be used vertically and often is used for soffits – and horizontal siding as well.

Vinyl chamfer-board siding, which is used horizontally or vertically  or as a soffit

Vinyl chamfer-board siding displays a wide joint between the "boards" in the panel, imparting a strong vertical or horizontal visual line, depending on application (photo source: Certainteed).


Where Can You Have Vertical Siding?

With its versatility and variety of materials and styles, vertical siding can help highlight some of the homes architectural features and design elements. Keep in mind that its not limited to the exterior. Vertical siding can be used as kitchen and bathroom backsplashes, ceilings, accent walls, headboards, gables, window accents, and much more.


Exterior Facade

Bungalow style home with covered front porch and red board-and-batten siding

Stop for a minute and enjoy the wonderful sight of the Bungalow style home above with the vertical board-and-batten siding on its exterior facade. The reddish vertical siding is set off by the white columns, door, and window trim of the home. It is complemented by a steep standing-seam-metal front porch roof, which because of its steepness, reinforces the vertical orientation of the siding. The lovely one-story home has 1292 square feet of living space, two bedrooms, and two bathrooms.


Powder Room Backsplash

Bathroom with vertically oriented dark natural wood backsplash

Why settle for the run-of-the-mill when you can have a one-of-a-kind” focal point in your powder room? Check out the vertical (and diagonal) siding shown above on the wall with the funky mirror. This dramatic backsplash is in one of the powder rooms of a fabulous Contemporary Prairie style home with four bedrooms, four full baths, and two half baths.


Accent Wall

Bedroom with stone fireplace and natural-wood vertical paneling as an accent wall

Imagine walking into the bedroom above with its stone-faced gas fireplace and a spectacular accent wall of vertical natural wood backing the large TV. The statement piece with the well-designed vertical siding is in a stunning two-story Rustic Country home with an open floor plan that includes five bedrooms, five full bathrooms, a half bath, and a covered outdoor living area. 


Is it time for you to take a bold step and try something new? Then be ready to use the visual appeal and uniqueness of vertical siding to add to the charm and character of your home.



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