Everything You Need to Know About
Board and Batten Siding

Many people have heard of board and batten siding, and it is almost impossible to not see examples of it every day, but few would be able to pick it out of a lineup. This classic example of 1800s American architectural design is simple and elegant and there is a reason that the design has lasted for over 200 years!

Today we’re going to look at board and batten siding’s history, discuss some design considerations, and then end with a few modern siding options that will let you add this timeless architectural style to your home.

A (Very) Brief History of Exterior Siding in America

It’s easy to forget how new America is as a nation. The first European settlers arrived in the 1600s and for the next hundred years their focus was on surviving the harsh weather conditions of their new lands. This meant that the structures they lived in were more rough-and-ready than they were elegant or refined. Log cabins and mortared stone structures were easy to make out of local materials and required little finesse.

Log cabins soon gave way to more efficient clapboard housing, with long relatively thin boards forming a somewhat weatherproof exterior. However, the advent of hydro-power and the industrial revolution enabled colonists to take advantage of their old growth forests via powerful sawmills and the architectural landscape began to shift by the 1800s.

The American Gothic Revival saw the incorporation of many elements of old European architecture such as elaborate scroll-work, pinnacles, steeply pointed gables, and the development of board and batten siding.
Board and batten siding was appreciated for its ease of construction and weatherproof properties. The wide boards were joined by pieces of narrow vertical siding called battens and produced in a facade that had far fewer gaps than log cabins or clapboard siding.

Fast forwarding to today, board and batten has never gone out of style and examples of it can be seen across the nation. Perhaps most famously, board and batten siding plays a starring role in Grant Wood’s famous painting American Gothic.

Examples of Board & Batten

Images from: James Hardie and Wikipedia

How to Work With the Board and Batten Look

The great news about board and batten is that it looks equally comfortable when accompanied by modern minimalism, or when paired with elaborate designs. Whether you want to take inspiration from the American Gothic Revival or prefer a more subdued farmhouse style, this siding style is able to play nicely with nearly any design element.

In terms of colors, the sky’s the limit. From timeless white to vibrant blues and even pink, board and batten is incredibly flexible.

Comparing Board & Batten Siding Costs

While board and batten used to be made from natural wood, this has fallen out of favor due to wood’s high cost, susceptibility to termites, and demanding upkeep requirements.

Thankfully, homeowners have many options to choose from, and the board and batten style is available across a wide range of budgets. The most common alternatives are fiber cement siding, such as those offered by James Hardie, and vinyl siding. James Hardie siding products offer the curb appeal of natural wood while providing a long lasting and low maintenance ownership experience.

Keep in mind that while less expensive home exterior options may seem like a good value, they are often more costly in the long term. We’ve written an article comparing the lifetime costs of vinyl and Hardie siding, and the results may surprise you!

Case in point, James Hardie Board with ColorPlus technology includes a 15 year warranty against fading and a 30 year warranty against hail and termite damage. Few vinyl products are able to offer similar warranties because vinyl simply doesn’t last as long!

The Versatility of Board and Batten Siding

Ultimately, the board and batten style has stood the test of time due to its versatility. Whether you want a rustic look, modern farmhouse, or the elaborate decor of American Gothic Revival, board and batten is a great choice. Today, wood siding has gone out of favor, mostly due to the availability of superior siding materials like James Hardie fiber cement.

Regardless of which type of siding you pick, be sure to choose your siding installation company with care, as both the look and lifespan of your new siding will be influenced by the installer. If you are ready to start your new siding project, Rennison Roofing is a James Hardie Elite Preferred Contractor and offers superior workmanship and amazing results!