An option for siding you may have seen but not known much about is live edge siding. Brian Liloia, a.k.a. Ziggy, is putting some on a strawbale home he’s building and recently shared the photo above on his blog.
Live edge siding is basically boards that have not been cut strait on one side. Instead they are left with the natural curves of the tree. You probably won’t find this kind of wood at any big box home improvement store, but through specialty suppliers or directly from the folks that milled the boards.
It takes a bit of care to cut boards like this so you might expect to pay a bit more for them. I know that seems counter intuitive because technically speaking the board is not fully cut. But any robot sawmill can cut strait boards; only someone with a careful eye can masterfully cut lengths of boards with a wild edge like this and still keep them useable as siding – covering the walls without gaps while still providing nice natural lines.
But it’s hard to argue that the extra time, money, and effort isn’t worth it… the final product is very appealing and really gives the home a unique personality.
You can follow Ziggy’s strawbale house progress on his blog. The photo below is the wall he is covering in live edge siding. Below that is a photo below that was found on Wikipedia.
I believe this is also called skirl edge siding and is caused by splitting the boards and cleaning the edges. Masterfully cutting every edge would be highly time consuming. Those edges seem to naturally follow knots and grain patterns.
We call it “Mountain Siding” here in NC. Actually, it’s easy to make if you’ve got a sawmill. You simply square an edge then just slice it up into 1″ boards. The more curves or limbs in the logs, the better. When installing it, don’t use them in the order they were cut but mix the boards for more character. Some people just side up gable ends with it but I have sided entire barns with it.
Brian is correct, that siding was popular in the PacNW, especially BC, during the 60’s and 70’s, and is called Haida Skirl (after the First Peoples). It’s a bit “dated” looking but is really superb siding. Expect it to last decades. We remodeled a beach cottage that had Haida Skirl from the late 1960’s and it was like new. It was a thick, rough sawn bevelled cedar siding that still had plenty of oils – it was a chore to paint!