Introduction

hanging clapboard siding »
Since colonial times, Americans have protected their houses from the weather with thin, overlapping wood planks known as clapboards. The siding, which got its name from the Dutch work klappen, "to split," was originally hand-split from logs of white pine, hemlock, spruce, or cypress. Later, saws did the work, turning out miles of delicate, tapered strips less than an inch thick.

Today, clapboard siding comes in a variety of woods, widths, and lengths, as well as in such man-made materials as fiber-cement. But as far as This Old House general contractor Tom Silva is concerned, western red cedar is still the best choice for the money. "It takes paint easily, goes up faster than shingles, and as long as it's installed properly and well maintained it can last the lifetime of the house," Tom says. "It looks great, too."
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    Tools List

    • speed square
      Speed Square,
      for marking story pole and swing stick
    • chalk line
      Chalk line.
      for premarking courses and for finding and marking plumb lines at stud locations
    • utility knife
      Utility knife,
      for notching clapboard and cutting felt, flashing, and waterproofing membrane
    • tacker hammer
      Hammer tacker and staples,
      for attaching builder's felt to sheathing alternative: staple gun
    • 16-foot tape measure
      Tape measure
    • caulk gun
      Caulk gun with paintable, synthetic-rubber sealant,
      for sealing ends of clapboard at casings, frieze, and corner boards
    • ladder
      Ladder or scaffolding,
      for reaching high spots
    • miter saw
      Miter saw,
      for cutting clapboards to length
    • hammer
      Hammer
    • table saw
      Table saw,
      for ripping down the starter strip

    Shopping List

    1. PRIMED RED-CEDAR CLAPBOARD

    2. BUILDER'S FELT: 15-POUND, 12-INCH-WIDE ROLL

    for protecting sheathing at water table, corner boards, and around window and door casings



    3. BUILDER'S FELT: 2-INCH-WIDE ROLL

    for covering the wall at stud locations



    4. METAL FLASHING

    for covering the top edge of the water table and window casings



    5. WATERPROOF MEMBRANE

    for protecting the tops of windows and doors



    6. 4D AND 7D STAINLESS STEEL RING-SHANK NAILS

    for attaching clapboard and flashing