Photo by Cindy Funk

Update: Making the exterior of your house stand out in your neighborhood is a task that presents you with thousands of options. One way to add an interesting touch to your home is to add some shingle siding. The great thing about shingle siding is that it comes in a variety of patterns and colors, and can be cut into many interesting shapes. Though it will need regular maintenance such as staining and weather-proof treatments, shingle siding adds a classic twist to both period and modern properties.

Shingle siding is made primarily of cedar and usually stained in earthy shades such as brown, gray, etc. Shingles are a low-maintenance alternative to wood clapboard. Wood shingles provide a unique look to houses and are used over modern as well as antique buildings. The shingles are installed over a solid sheathing or horizontally laid furring strips are used. The shingles are available as half-round shingles or in a variety of fancy shapes such as diamond, arrow, hexagonal, fish scale, etc. These shapes allow a homeowner to create unlimited patterns on the external walls.

Shingle siding is not as cheap as vinyl or aluminum siding. It can last up to thirty years, but needs to be stained every five years with a regular application of preservatives to prevent rot and mildew. Shingles provide home owners the opportunity to create different patterns; they can be placed all at once or in a layered manner. The degree of overlap affects the overall appearance of the pattern. As shingles are susceptible to cracking and curling they should be checked regularly and individual pieces replaced as required.

Wood shingles are vulnerable to rotting and mould and should be kept away from moisture. It is better to install them a little above the ground to prevent wet earth from covering them. South and west facing exteriors are more susceptible to fading due to exposure to the sun; this can sometimes give a very distinctive look to the shingled exteriors.

Shingle sidings are also available as panelized shingle sidings that are made up of rows of shingles laminated on to a wooden base. These prefabricated shingle panels facilitate easy installment and are relatively cheap. However, the disadvantages of such a product include the thinness of the shingles, which can be as low as a quarter of that of the regular shingles. This makes the shingle sidings more susceptible to weather damage and difficult to repair.

Shingles can be installed as a do it yourself project. It is important to calculate the amount of shingle surface that is to be left exposed to the weather. This is sometimes specified by the manufacturers. Reducing the exposure will lead to more shingles being used. A standard exposure for 100 square feet of wall area can be achieved using four bundles of shingles. Shingles should be installed in such a way that there is sufficient (4-inches or more) course of shingles beneath the eaves. If the shingles are being installed as a do it yourself project, it is important to install them in such a manner that there is no cupping, in which the shingles roll toward the center, or checking, i.e. a cracking of the shingles. Wet shingles should not be installed. Wood shingles cost between $ 3 and $ 4 per square foot, exclusive of installation charges.