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Are Shed Siding Panels a Good Option?

Shed Siding Panels

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When you’re planning to build your own shed, one of the major decisions is the type of siding to use. You’re probably familiar with the usual types of siding: wood, plywood, metal, vinyl, and so on. But did you know that there are shed siding panels available?

Using shed siding panels are great option for beginners, easy to install and they come in a variety of finishes. You can also paint them to match your home colors and some come in very durable materials for long life.

How Thick Should Shed Siding Panels Be?

This may depend on the thicknesses available in your chosen siding. For instance, LP SmartSide panels come in 3/8″, 7/16″, and 19/32″ thicknesses. Some shed manufacturers use the 3/8″ in their sheds. Fiber cement panels come in 5/16″ or 5/8″ thicknesses. T1-11 usually comes in 3/16″, 11/32″, and 3/4″ thicknesses.

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For shed siding, you probably don’t need siding panels that are the thickest, but you want to stay away from the thinnest type as well. The thickest widths, such as 3/4″, are usually intended for applications that need structural strength. A good idea would be to consult with your supplier. Explain what you want it for and your shed size. He can probably recommend the best choice.

What Goes Under Shed Siding?

This depends on your personal preference, and your climate. If you live in a cold climate, or one that often has windstorms, you may want something solid underneath your siding. Although you can nail siding panels directly to your studs, putting something underneath will make your walls more solid and can provide other benefits.

Sheathing, usually made of plywood or OSB, provides structural support for the framing and also moisture protection. It also adds some insulation to your shed.

You can also choose to use actual insulation. Foam board insulation, which runs in sizes from 3/8″ to 2.5″ thick, is easy to work with. It comes in panels, usually 2 x 8 or 4 x 8 feet, and is easy to cut to trim or form around doorways and windows. It’s usually laminated on one or both sides. This also provides a sort of moisture barrier.

What Type of Nails Do I Use on Shed Siding?

This depends on the type of siding panels you use and what you install underneath. You still want the nails to penetrate into the studs, even if they go through sheathing or installation. Sheathing can count as part of the penetration depth unless it’s a soft sheathing such as fiberboard. Insulation such as foam board also doesn’t count.

T1-11 panels list 2″ 6d siding nails, or at least nails long enough to penetrate a minimum of 1-1/2 inches into the studs. For fiber cement panels, 6d or 8d galvanized or stainless-steel nails are recommended. A penetration depth of at least 1-1/4 inches into the studs is recommended.

How Many Types of Shed Siding Panels Are There?

There are several types of exterior siding panels, also sometimes called sheet siding. They usually come in sheets 4 x 8 feet, but sheets up to 10 or 12 feet long are also available.

Rough-sawn plywood – This is also called Texture 1-11, or T1-11, and has been a popular siding choice for some time. It does need to be installed correctly and sealants or it can buckle and warp with moisture.

It is made much the same way as plywood, and usually comes with grooves to simulate separate boards, or it can be made from Oriented Strand Board. It should be installed with the grooves facing vertically so that no rainwater will stay in the grooves. T1-11 comes in different grades.

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It’s a good idea to get a better grade, which will use better wood and adhesives, are thicker, and will probably be coated with its first sealant coat. Cheaper grades are thinner and require priming and painting. There is also a stain-grade type that has no patches.

Engineered wood siding – This is made from wood fibers and strands that are molded with resins. It has a lifespan of 20 to 40 years but does need to be sealed. Another type, LP SmartSide, is treated with zinc borate for added protection. It needs repainting every five to seven years. This type is noticeably less expensive than the usual engineered wood siding.

Fiber cement panels – This type of siding is not commonly known, but its popularity can only go up as people learn of its benefits. It’s made of wood pulp, fly ash or silica sand, Portland cement, and water. This siding is known to have the performance of masonry and often carries warranties of 25 years and more.

Just the finish itself usually is warrantied for 15 years. It is rot, fire and termite-proof, unaffected by temperature fluctuations or wind, and can be made to resemble other types of siding, including wood clapboarding, shingles, brick or stone. It requires little upkeep but costs less than many other types of siding.

Pressed hardboard panels – These are often the cheapest option but do take more work. They can be made of either pressed hardboard or OSB. They also have grooves, but unlike the plywood option, the grooves have just been pressed into the surface. This type of panel needs to be sealed completely with several coats of paint to keep them from soaking up water.

The owner must take care to repaint when necessary to prevent moisture damage, which can cause the panels to warp, buckle, or even come apart. You may save money on the front end with this type of panel, but the extra work and paint may eat up any monetary savings. If your on a budget check out my article What is The Cheapest Siding For a Shed?

How Do You Install Shed Siding Panels?

For T1-11 or LP SmartSide panels, you’ll need a tape measure, circular saw, a drill, and safety equipment, such as safety glasses, gloves, etc. You can use a nail gun or hand nail. Installation begins by determining the height you want your panels, then installing a temporary ledger board at the base of the wall to rest the panels on while you’re nailing them in. Make sure this board is level all the way around the shed.

Place your first panel on a corner, resting on the ledger board. Nails go on center of the studs spaced every six to eight inches. The panels fit together with an over/under tongue on each long side. The overlapping side of this first panel goes on the corner of the shed, with the underlap side landing on a stud.

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There is an alignment bead indicating how far the panels should overlap. Nails go at these overlap connections. Be careful to drive the nails snugly but not so deep that the siding surface is distorted. You may need some sort of clamps to hold the panels in place until they are firmly nailed. Any openings such as for a window can easily be marked for cutting by placing your panel in place, then marking the opening from the inside. You install trim boards at the outside corners when finished.

These panels can be painted before or after installation. Painting them before installation is easiest by placing them on the ground and using a paint sprayer. This will also prevent you from having to mask anything off when painting. You can always do any touch-up painting if needed afterward.

Fiber cement panels are a bit different. You may want to leave the installation to professionals. The panels are heavy, so you’ll need help with installation. You really need a siding nail gun, as this type of panel is harder and more brittle than wood. If you try to hand nail it or use screws, you’ll need to drill holes for the fasteners first.

Fortunately, it’s possible to rent a siding nail gun rather than buy one. Some sources advise against using a nail gun at all. Your supplier can advise you here. You’ll also need an N-95 face mask, as cutting the panels will involve dust.

For cutting the panels, you’ll need a circular saw with blades designed for cutting fiber cement. You may want a shop-vac near to collect the dust. A jigsaw with a tungsten or carbide grit blade is another choice. There are also fiber cement shears available that are powered scissors that attach to a power drill.

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They are great for either straight or slightly curved cuts. They also make less dust than the power saw. Another choice is a scoring knife outfitted with a carbide-tipped blade. Score the cut line several times, then use the edge of a table to snap the board apart. You may need to cut some panels so that the butt joint always lands in the middle of a stud.

You’d do well to mark the stud locations with chalk lines over your sheathing or insulation and the top and bottom of your panel locations. Many panel systems use aluminum tracks, which hold the panels. These are offered by the same manufacturer as the panels. If you get pre-painted panels, the tracks will come painted the same color. You’ll get tracks for corners, vertical butt joints, J-channels and a Z-channel that allows drainage at the horizontal joints.

Start with installing a corner track, then slide a panel into the track by the long edge. The panel is screwed in place through pre-drilled holes. Stainless steel screws are used. Once this panel is attached, a track is slid over the other side and fastened, then the next panel is inserted and fastened. Trim pieces go last. Looking for something easy to install? Check out my article What’s the Easiest Shed Siding to Install?


Siding panels are becoming more popular because of their ease of installation. Although fiber cement panels are a bit more complicated to install, getting panels with a track system will make the job go much more quickly than installing individual siding boards, which are also offered in fiber cement.

Installing insulation underneath will make your shed more comfortable and help keep moisture problems at bay. Panels are definitely a choice worth exploring when considering siding for your shed.

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