I’m So Ex-Sided!

After much debate, many SketchUp drawings, and some long days of collaboration, may I present to you the south and north faces of our darling Tiny (okay, Giant), Juniper.

South side
North side

Why metal on the south side? Glad you asked! In our climate, we get intense sunlight beating on the south side throughout the year. While cedar is a tough exterior, constant exposure to direct sun increases maintenance requirements, which makes metal siding the better option. Donovan chose the tan color because it stays cooler than traditional silver or darker colors, and it happens to match the almond window frames and contrast nicely with the red cedar trim. We’re very happy with the results.

We went with a white metal roof, a cool color that reflects light. In the larger picture, the white roof is somewhat inconsequential, because it will be covered in 12 solar electric panels and 2 solar hot water panels! We also intend to collect rainwater from the roof, which makes metal a good choice. The Pilgrim-Brown brothers, in collaboration with Donovan, completed the metal siding and roof. (Reyes Brown is pictured above.) Notice the strapping above the weather barrier to create an airflow gap which allows moisture to escape and creates cooling benefits.

On the north side, where the siding does not get direct sun, we went with juniper, which is this Tiny House’s namesake, after all. It’s worth repeating that we chose juniper (eastern red cedar) for its weather-resistant qualities and the fact that it’s a local, abundant, sustainable selection for our area. The Pilgrim-Browns harvested the wood and milled only the deep, red heartwood for our siding, which is a rot-resistant exterior, unlike the lighter-colored sapwood. According to Donovan’s specifications, they cut the lap siding to a thickness of 5/8″ and the shingle boards to 5/16″–3/8″. Both the lap and the shingle boards are straight-cut, rather than having a tapered edge.

When the boards are first installed, they’re wildly bright and purplish. It takes a day or so for their colors to even out.

To provide an extra layer of protection, we sprayed both sides of each board with Heritage Natural Finish oil using an agricultural sprayer, and then used rags to rub the oil into the wood. Donovan liked the idea of using a natural oil that would simply need to be re-applied over the years, rather than a poly-based finish or paint that would flake off. After oiling the boards, we attached them to the rainscreen (the system consisting of battens under the siding to allow water and airflow and ensure greater longevity) with a pneumatic stapler and stainless steel staples. Using stainless steel fasteners with red cedar is important; other fasteners tend to corrode and bleed unsightly streaks into the wood.

Our friend David stopped by to get a Tiny tour and stayed to help oil some shakes. What a guy!


Superstar carpenters Ed and Walter oiled and installed the lap siding on the bottom two thirds of the north face after they completed the trim, leaving Donovan and me to top it off with shakes, which we find irresistibly charming.

Walter rubs in the oil (note the top and bottom orientations of battens for the rainscreen behind him)
Walter and Ed attach the straight-edge lap siding using stainless steel staples and a pneumatic stapler

To make the shakes, we cut the boards into 18-inch lengths with the chop-saw, which I completed in about 6 hours. (My chiropractor forbade me to do anymore after that.) Once we’d cut them to length, we drew a curve on one end of each and cut the curve with a bandsaw, a tool new to both of us, which took some getting used to. Next, we fine-tuned the curved edge with a belt sander, which Donovan rigged to be stationary. Then we used an orbital sander to remove burs from the edges. Lastly, we oiled each side of the shingles with Heritage Natural Finish oil.

I cut the boards to 18″ lengths to make the shingles (shakes)

Once we were ready to install, we made a random pattern of the different widths of shingles and attached them with the stainless steel fasteners. The rainscreen battens for the shakes run horizontally (as opposed to vertically, as with the lap siding), with intermittent grooves routered through the strips for air and moisture flow.

Donovan attaches flashing around the windows above, while I trim shingles below

Before our eyes, Juniper appeared to grow wings!


Next post: What do you get when you throw two guys full of character together in the woods with some white oak, walnut, fused glass, infinite pots of beans and rice, and  Jerry Garcia tunes? Stay tuned to find out!


6 thoughts on “I’m So Ex-Sided!

  1. I am enjoying watching your project. I think it is wonderful that you are giving a good bit of “how-to” information. I think a lot more people would live simply if they just knew how. I am looking forward to seeing more! Don’t leave me hanging to long:)

    Liked by 1 person

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