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Clapboard Siding

The name clapboard originated from the Dutch word Klappen, “to split” because the planks were originally hand-split from logs of white pine, hemlock, spruce, or cypress. Clapboard is also known as lap siding, beveled wood siding, wood plank, or weather board. It is used typically for exterior horizontal siding that has one edge thicker than the other and where the board above laps over the one below.

Since the colonial times, Americans have protected their homes from the weather using these overlapping wood planks on the sides of their homes. New England homes of revolutionary times were sided with clapboards that would keep out the chilly winds of winter yet allow the house to breathe in summer.

Today, clapboard siding comes in a variety of woods, widths, and lengths. And, in newer, cheaper construction, clapboard is often imitated as siding made of vinyl, aluminum, or fiber-cement. Clapboard is simply long boards of wood applied horizontally and overlapping on a house. The result can look uneven and irregular, but beveled or tapered boards can correct this problem.

Because they are more naturally resistant to decay, cedar and redwood are the preferred woods for clapboard siding. And, because cedar and redwood are available in prime quality grades the wood is beautiful enough to use a clear sealer to protect the siding instead of coats of paint or stain. Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and larch are also used for clapboard siding.

Match your wood choice to your natural environment

Wood is a natural haven for animals and insects. Woodpeckers and other birds are drawn to wood on the outside of houses. You need to know what types of animals and type of environment your home is in so you can choose the right type of wood. Tannin, the resin found in cedar, is a natural insect repellent however, that same tannin can cause rain spots that will appear for the first three years that the cedar is on your home. Redwood is a lot like cedar except that its color is slightly different.

Features & Benefits

Clapboard siding is well suited to a wide range of architectural styles. Real wood offers flexibility and adds detail and charm of a bygone era. Wide variety of styles, textures, and finishes. Can be painted, stained, or sealed. Wood clapboard or beveled siding is horizontal and has overlapping joints. Wood plank or board siding is vertical and comes in board and batten, board on board, or channel-groove or tongue and groove styles.

Faults, Flaws & Foibles

Cedar and redwood are pricier however the siding will last longer. High maintenance - it must be caulked and repainted about every 7 years or restained every 3 to 5 years, depending on conditions at your site. Painted finishes tend to require higher maintenance and require good exterior house painting preparation. Wood siding is prone to paint problems if the home is not properly ventilated. It can be damaged by rot, insects, animals, warping or splitting.

Clapboard Siding Costs

Cost varies widely by type of wood species and style of siding and exterior finish.

So many choices…

Clapboard, shingles, vinyl siding, board and batten, shakes, stone, brick, wood, aluminum, and veneer; and the list goes on. The materials and design elements that are available for your homes exterior can be mind boggling and overwhelming. We hope our article on clapboard siding has been helpful as you journey through the vast array of siding choices. We offer a list of prescreened licensed contractors that you can consult with regarding your project. See below for more details.

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Bringing with it a certain old-world charm, clapboard is a popular siding choice for homeowners that love the look and texture of natural wood. However, natural wood isn’t always the most durable siding option and usually requires extra upkeep. Read on to learn if it’s the right siding for your home.


The exact cost of clapboard siding depends on the type of wood used, the size of the job, and the cost of labor. On average, however, Red Cedar Lap Siding that is 6” deep and 1/2” thick costs about $1.75 per square foot, or $2.05 per square foot with one side planed smooth. Check with a professional installer in your area for specific cost estimates.


Can be painted, stained or sealed.

Adds the charm of a bygone era and complements a wide range of architectural styles.

Clapboard siding offers a wide variety of styles, textures and finishes.


Clapboard siding can easily become a natural haven for animals and insects.

Unless the home is properly ventilated, painted wood siding requires extra maintenance and can be prone to problems.

Requires significantly more maintenance and upkeep than other siding options.


Clapboard siding is by no means the most durable siding option. Cedar and redwood are more naturally resistant to decay, but all clapboard siding materials need to be properly sealed and maintained for the best results.


Clapboard siding is generally a high-maintenance siding option. It must be caulked and repainted every 7 years, or re-stained every 3 to 5 years, depending on the conditions at your site.

Common Questions and Answers

How should paint be removed from clapboard siding?

Clean off loose dirt and debris using a damp cloth and begin removing the chipped paint with a scraper or putty knife. Use a brush, paint roller or spray can to apply paint thinner (make sure to wear gloves to protect yourself from alkaline burns), and le

Is paint or stain better for clapboard siding?

Both options come with their own advantages and disadvantages. Stain allows the natural wood to peek through and won’t peel, but will fade overtime. Paint comes with more color choices but is harder to apply.


Since the colonial times, Americans have protected their homes from the elements using these overlapping wood planks on the sides of their homes. New England homes of revolutionary ties were sided with clapboards that would keep out the chilly winds of winter, yet allow the house to breathe in the summer.

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