While not a new idea, it is becoming more and more common to see tropical decking and exterior wood species climbing the walls and becoming rainscreen siding. And why not? These weather resistant woods that we trust for our decks will do an even better job of cladding our homes, acting as a rainscreen siding to lock out the moisture and making them beautiful. It seems like a perfect solution.
Traditionally siding would be screwed or nailed in place and usually a tongue and groove joint connects the edges. Once someone thought to use tropical decking the idea of a hidden clip fastener system seemed almost obvious. Suddenly you can clad your home with stunningly beautiful wood without unsightly holes from the fasteners marking out where every furring strip is underneath. Moreover, a clip system will set your spacing for a consistent gap while still allowing some wiggle room for the siding to expand and contract with the seasons. The clips are secured to the furring strips therefore hiding all visible fasteners. The finished product is truly beautiful and seems like a great solution. However as with any new construction method the verdict is still out on how well these systems work.
The decking boards need to be grooved so the clips have a place to hold the siding. The issue is that in between clips, there is an open groove that can collect water or possibly act as homes for insects. The traditional tongue and groove method fills in the groove along the entire length so this isn’t a problem. Several manufacturers exist that make these clip systems and each have their own claims on how they deal with these problems. Many of them tuck the groove up behind a beveled edge so the water is not able to get to it. This solves the water problem but won’t defeat the insect nesting. Ideally using an insect resistant tropical wood will be your answer here but it is still something to be aware of. The one issue that still remains is the long drip edge created by this siding that could cause uneven moisture absorption and eventual buckling of the siding material.
Ultimately we think these are minor issues because using a top quality tropical decking product that is already very water, insect, and rot resistant will solve the problems. Lets face it, if Ipe and Cumaru can stand up to standing water and horizontal surfaces as a deck, then shedding water from a vertical surface shouldn’t be an issue.
On the whole, you cannot deny the beauty of a hardwood clad building and we expect this rainscreen siding method to increase in popularity and create a new market for tropical hardwoods.