Many homebuilders and homeowners miss out on the opportunity to use local woods for their home projects, even though wood is durable and one of the most beautiful materials to use. No matter where you live in the US there are typically multiple wood species that are suitable for home exteriors well within a five hundred mile radius.
My home, in Statesville, NC, is almost complete and I have chosen to use wood for the entire home’s exterior except for two or three feet around the home’s foundation where I used stone that I gathered from local fields and forests.
I choose Bald cypress from eastern North Carolina. Cypress is a swamp tree that grows along the Southern US coast, Gulf coast, and the Mississippi river as far north as Memphis. It is plentiful but not to the extent of pine. Cypress is about twice the cost of pine in this market at the wholesale level, but I was able to offset this cost by purchasing four truckloads of timbers and lumber directly from the sawmill. I used local wood shops to assist me in the drying, planning of timbers and siding boards, and the sawing of wall shingles. Thus I was able to both use a local wood species as well as local labor to support my desire for a green home.
There are lots of wood species available for home siding for shingles and boards. The wood products industry traditionally has used cedars as well as cypress for shingles and board siding. Good building techniques that address repelling water and its removal allows many wood species to be considered for the siding of homes.
As a side note, I did not seek out wood that was FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) certified because I personally do not feel we have a problem with poor forestry practices in this particular area of the country. I say that as someone who has been exposed to many local forest growers through my employment with the NC State University Wood Products Extension office. That’s not to say that we can’t improve our practices, but at the moment these certifications systems place a large financial burden on producers that consumers are not willing to absorb.
Finishing and Moisture Protection
I used modern oil-based stain and water-based clear coat products to protect the wood from sun, rain and wind. We also used 5″ gutters instead of the standard 4″ so they would have the capacity to catch the water off the large roof surfaces and we built the house with large overhangs to assist in water management. The use of stainless steel screws will eliminate the rusting of fasteners and facilitate any repairs.
We made air ventilation channels in the stripping behind the wall shingles and board and batten siding that will help to lower summer heat buildup in the house as well as move moisture out behind the siding.
My wife Loraine, is very pleased with the look of the home, as it combines forest and earth themes and everyone who sees the house is amazed by the combination of shingles, boards and stone. The home’s entry door faces west and when the sun is setting in the west, the house lights up and the cedar stain on the shingles and boards is absolutely stunning.
Editors Note: Harry Watt is the Business Improvement Specialist with the NC State University Wood Products Extension. Mr. Watt was a valuable resource for wood selection for the Greenspiration Home, and inspired us to source as much locally grown wood for our home as possible.