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Choosing rough cut siding

Drive around the countryside and you see old, gray barns with wood siding that has lasted decades. Many homeowners are choosing this type of natural, rough cut siding for their houses to give them an historic look. 

Scott Prentice is the owner of a rough cut sawmill in South Dakota. He says rough cut lumber is freshly-milled and usually air dried. There is no smoothing of the surface after it comes out of the saw. The lack of preparation means rough cut lumber is thicker, and about 20-to-30-percent less expensive than traditional siding from the lumber yard.

He says the species of wood to choose depends on your region. 

"We've got people that are cutting Douglas fir, pine, we even having people cutting oaks," he says. "I just ran across this article not too long ago where instead of cutting down redwood trees, they're digging up ones that have been buried, and cutting up redwood out of that. It doesn't matter, it's just from region-to-region, and what you like. I think they all work and endure very well on the outside of a home."

The appearance of the wood is a personal choice. Years ago when people went to a mill, Prentice says they wanted clear pine with few knots and imperfections. But that is changing; the trend now is the more knots, the better. 

"I have clients come out and actually rummage through some of my wood supplies, looking for the worst looking wood," says Prentice. "Some of my clients like the bandsaw look versus a circular blade, because a circular blade will score the wood differently. So, it actually comes down to maybe a preference on how the wood's being cut, what kind of blade is cutting it."

If you leave the siding bare, it will weather to a natural gray and last for decades. If you want to slow down the aging process even more, add a nice oil stain or preservative.

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