Some design aspects of the house were still not finalized until well into construction, and the biggest point of indecision was the siding. Unlike the roof, which had always been planned to be green standing seam steel, the choice of siding remained in limbo almost up to the last minute. The options are listed in the order I'd considered them. Incidentally, while standing seam steel—one of the costliest roofing materials—was my choice from the very beginning, the low roof pitch meant that it was also my only option; there were no cheaper alternatives I'd been allowed to use.

Barn Boards

My first choice was genuine antique barn boards. I love their rugged, weathered look and their irregular widths. Unfortunately, the market for barn boards has exploded, and they now command outrageous prices. So, scratch this one off the list.

Plain Vertical Planks

Plain natural vertical boards seemed like a good substitute for barn boards. But good quality new boards aren't much cheaper than old recycled ones.

Cedar Shake

I like the texture and especially the weathered patina cedar shakes acquire over time. However, they'd present maintenance issues, and they're prone to damage. While cedar may not rot, it still warps and cracks with age. So, scratch this one off the list.

Board and Batten—Winner

Since I did the guest house in board and batten, I thought it might tie things together. This option became my choice based almost solely on cost, being the cheapest by far. And my cabin provides a good indication of how durable it can be.

Incidentally, the board and batten I make is "fake"—it's actually rough-cut plywood (a.k.a. T-111 siding) with battens applied over the grooves. It looks good enough to fool some contractors.

Field Stone

While I was out running errands one afternoon, I spotted a house clad in field stone; it was reminiscent of Fallingwater. And the more I thought about it, the more I liked it, in spite of the fact that it's a faux finish. As it happens, my original-original plan for the house was to make it entirely of poured concrete, but that would have been way too costly. A field stone finish would sort of bring me back closer to its origins, but it was still a costly—and labor-intensive—option. So, scratch this one off the list.

Log Home Exterior

For a brief time I entertained the idea of simulating a log home, with a field stone foundation: it seemed to fit the setting nicely. But, as I've related elsewhere, I'm not especially fond of faux finishes. Not to mention that some of the "logs" are as much as $130 per piece! Yes, seriously. So, scratch this one off the list.

Standing Seam Steel

The upside of standing seam steel is that it's maintenance-free almost indefinitely. The downside is that it's quite expensive, so scratch this one off the list. Plus, it had the potential to make the house look vaguely industrial or utilitarian—not that it was of much concern; I always place functionality over aesthetics anyway.


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