The basics of plywood siding

plywood with batts sidingPlywood siding was introduced in the 1950s. It is a popular building material in the north and sometimes goes by the name of T1-11. Unlike other products, such as fiber cement siding and vinyl siding, it failed to gain a huge market share over the years and its use has dipped.

This exterior wood siding material is composed of many layers of wood veneer glued together like a sandwich. Plywood siding can be bought in a range of patterns and textures and when it is properly installed and maintained, it can last up to 30 years on a building. When a homeowner is deciding whether to use plywood siding as the best option, they must consider the factors like its durability and how much the siding cost to install.

Types of Plywood Panel Siding

There are four finish types plywood siding that are available:

  • Channel grooved
  • Rough sawn
  • Overlaid
  • Brushed

Which one is better: Plywood or OSB?

plywood-siding-t111Plywood siding comes in different grades. One type which is called T1-11 and can be found in most buiding centers and lumber yards and the other is called OSB (Oriented Strand Board). The exterior plywood is more expensive than the OSB as it has a specific finish but by far it is the most superior product when compared with the OSB.

The reason is its durability and the many options for finishing like painting or staining. Plywood T1-11 is very popular plywood siding that can easily be stained to get any type of wood like appeal. It can be purchased in two surfaces such as sanded or rough hewn varieties.


When it comes to functionality, OSB products comprise of strands, wood flakes, and wafer which is treated using a binding resin. Later it will be sealed together with high heat and pressure. OSB is relatively inexpensive, widely used and very strong to be used for any home or commercial construction purpose, especially for sheathing in a residential setting. Though it doesn’t hold strong as good as plywood does, it is used for less strength areas where not much of exposure to the weather is involved and not much strength is required. OSB can be damaged easily from water which causes expansion in it thus making it much vulnerable to swelling and rot.


The main disadvantage of plywood siding is that it needs painted after every 5 to 6 years to get a long life from it. Termites are another thing to consider. The installation of the plywood must not get in contact with soil. Homes that are located in wet climates or have big termite problems should select a more lasting exterior siding material to avoid having very costly repair issues later. In case, moisture has entered the plywood siding it can cause to deform, bubble, and wrap the plywood siding. Another is its obvious susceptibility to fire. Those who live in the southwest should look to using material other than wood.

While using the plywood for exterior siding, it is very important to note that the grade you choose must be suitable for exterior use. Choosing the lower grade plywood siding to save the money can cause major headache in future. A licensed contractor of your area is the right person to advice you in this regard.


Plywood siding has several advantages on the other hand. The appeal it offers is a more natural and suits well for using it on a house. While installing plywood siding, it is very much important to treat the plywood properly before installation. Treating the plywood siding includes applying an appropriate sealant such as paint or stain in order to prevent any moisture from seeping in to plywood siding. In case moisture has entered the plywood siding, it can cause the wood to deform or bubble.

General maintenance and upkeep

Maintenance is always the factor and is very important when dealing with wood sidings. If neglected, the consequences would not be good. When it comes down the maintenance of wood siding, the way is to keep the T1-11 siding in the best possible condition is regular and diligent maintenance. If staining is selected for your siding then you need to ensure that proper coats of paint or stain are applied at the start so that your siding will be protected for all type of elements. Siding repainting or staining needs to be applied on a regular basis. The longevity of the siding also depends on the type and quality of stain or paint you use and the quality of the paint job. Caulking the joints and edges before installation is a great idea as it extends the life span by preventing damage from water infiltration.

plywood siding maintanence

How to find the right contractor

Since installation of plywood siding has to be done correctly, it’s wise to hire a professional siding contactor do the installation. They will have many years of experience install wood siding and hence would know just how to do the job perfectly in less time. Most wood sidings are prone to damage by water if they are not installed correctly. It needs to be installed in the right location perfectly. If installation is done correctly, then you can rest easy as the siding can protect you house for many years to come.

Siding cost

The prime reason for the manufacturer of plywood siding is to replicate the appeal of real wood. Since real wood is expensive, the plywood siding is a great option as it is available for less price. It would cost you about $3000 to around $5000 for just 1250 square feet installed and for a 3000 square feet area, it could cost from $8000 to around $10,000. Of course, it varies as per quality of material selected, labor charges in the area of installation and what type of paint or stain surface finish applied.

Summary of advantages and disadvantages


  • With fine maintenance a good quality siding can last for more than three decades.
  • Recognized as an easy type of siding to install.
  • Available in an extensive range of patterns and textures.


  • Wood is easily flammable.
  • Prone to damage from termites if it comes in direct contact with the soil.
  • Vulnerable to water rot if it is not properly caulked and finished.