Learn about the pros and cons of 3 environmentally-friend siding options for your shed or shabin. Perfect for DIY builders.
This post about siding options for sheds and shabins is part of a series of posts on our shabin (shed+cabin) build. You can find all of the currently available posts here.
We started building our shabin the first week of July and fully expected that it would take us all summer before the siding was up and painted. Luckily, it was pretty quick and we had the siding up and painted in two weekends of work. The trim took a third weekend.
Since our property is in a remote location without any access to building supplies beyond being able to buy a can of primer and some nails from the general store, we had to decide exactly how we wanted to finish our shabin ahead of time.
Our main goals for the siding were:
- DIY siding: We needed to be able to cut and install the siding ourselves, without any specialized equipment.
- Non-toxic and eco-friendly: Using eco-friendly products was one of our priorities.
- Durable: We wanted this shabin to last for at least 30 years.
- Water-tight and warm: While we didn’t plan on using the shabin in the winter, even the spring and fall are cool and wet in the Pacific Northwest, so a wind and moisture barrier was important.
With a small project like a shed, tiny home, or shabin, you may be able to get your siding for cheap or even free. Look online for people giving away their leftover building materials.
Here are the 3 main options that we considered with a few pros and cons for each option. Since we were looking for an environmentally-friendly option, we didn’t consider vinyl or similar products.
1. Engineered Wood Siding Panels
The building plans that we were working off of recommended using engineered wood siding panels. These panels are a simple option since they come pre-primed and can be nailed right to the studs.
However, the dust from cutting engineered wood products is toxic. Moisture is also a problem (something I’m very familiar with as our housing coop had issues with “rotting” engineered wood products).
- Dust from cutting is harmful
- Prone to moisture damage
- R-value of around 0.75
2. Fiber cement siding
Fiber cement siding is durable and fire-resistant. It’s the siding that we have on our townhouse and was originally our favorite option. The reason why we didn’t use fiber cement siding is that cutting and installation is more difficult. And we’re construction newbies so we were more comfortable working with wood.
- Has a lower carbon footprint
- Dust from cutting is harmful
- R-value of 0.15 so with the plywood sheathing it’s about 1.15
3. Cedar Siding
We chose to use cedar siding on our shabin because it was the easiest option. While we still had to wear N95 masks for cutting, we didn’t have to worry quite as much about the wood dust.
Since longevity and water resistance were important, we wrapped our shabin in tar paper before adding the siding. We also used an outdoor primer on all 6 sides of our siding before putting it up.
- Durable and water-resistant
- Easy to install
- Highest R-value at 0.80, for a total of 1.80 with our sheathing
- The most expensive option. It’s fine for a small shed or shabin, but costly on a larger building