Green Building Siding & Decking

greenbuildingBuilding Professionals

Green Siding Resource

Siding is primarily an aesthetic element that covers the structure of the house. From the point of view of sustainable building, siding makes three important contributions:

  • makes the building more weather resistant
  • less likely to burn down
  • durable
  • provides important architectural character (curb appeal) to a house

Siding may appear to be the most important weather barrier on a house, but that task actually falls to the drainage plan installed over the sheathing which diverts water away from the house. However, they are still important consideration to take into account when choosing siding.

See Chapter 12 on Siding in the Green from the Ground Up book for more details or contact us about training.

Green Siding & Decking Transition Guide

Install fiber cement siding

Cement siding is fire-resistant and long lasting.

These boards are nailed to the sheathing using galvanized nails from a pneumatic nail gun.

Wear a dust mask when cutting boards.


Avoid Vinyl Siding

Green Siding Polyvinyl chloride itself is relatively inert. It has plasticizers added to it that have health and environmental concerns. Its use has been linked to cancer and other diseases.

There are many other siding products available.

Difficult to recycle after it has been removed.


Caulk and seal all siding joints

Helps prevent moisture from migrating behind the siding and causing rot.

Caulking the joints is a simple task that will greatly prolong the siding’s life.

Use a quality caulk with low VOC’s that will last.


Wood products that are FSC certified

FSC wood comes from sustainably managed forests that replant trees once they are cut down.

Wood products should not be used in fire zones.

The heartwood of cedar and redwood is naturally resistant to insects and rot.

Not available everywhere, contact your local lumberyard and ask for FSC materials.


Install a drainage plane beneath the siding

Water is the enemy of the built environment. If moisture becomes trapped behind the siding, mold and rot begin to develop and can prematurely destroy the siding. Mold grown can in turn lead to indoor air health problems.

A drainage plane goes over the sheathing and is always installed overlapping from the bottom up. It will ensure that any water that behind the siding has a way to drain away from the building.

Tyvek paper, tar paper or other products are readily available. Joints should be overlapped and taped.

Rigid closed cell foam works well on the walls, preferably on the exterior. The floor joists should also be insulated to help prevent heat loss.


Use paint, adhesives and caulks that have low or no VOC

Volatile Organic Compounds have been connected to cancer and other health concerns

Many products without these harmful chemicals are available and work just as well or better.

Available at most home stores


Products that are made locally

Cuts down on energy costs of transportation. Helps support the local economy.

Contact your local chamber of commerce or BBB to find out what building material companies are in your area

In addition to helping the environment, you will also be helping your local economy.


Materials that are Recyclable

At the end of the products life cycle, the product can be recycled instead of placed in a landfill.

Contact your local recycling agency to see what materials they accept.

Manufactures may accept their own product to be recycled.

Green Building Training & Certification

Find out when the next Green Building Training is and learn more about Green Building Practices.

Green from the Ground Up Best Practices

  • Install a drainage plane beneath the siding to divert water away from the house. This can be a housewrap, building paper, or one of several commercial products manufactured for this purpose.
  • Consider installing a rain screen beneath the siding that includes an air space between the back of the siding and the housewrap or building paper.
  • With the exception of cedar and redwood, avoid all siding made from softwoods.
  • If you choose a traditional wood siding, either cedar or redwood shingles or planks, make sure the wood is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
  • Consider fiber cement siding in either panel form or as lap siding.
  • Avoid vinyl siding if you can.
  • For deck construction, take pains to detail the deck ledger correctly. Protect the house first with a drainage plane, make sure the housewrap and flashing are layered correctly to prevent water from getting behind the ledger, and attach the ledger only to solid framing.
  • Give preference to one of the plastic-wood composite decking materials.
  • If you choose cedar, redwood, or one of the tropical hardwoods, make sure it is FSC-certified material.