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What’s the Easiest Shed Siding to Install?

If you’re building your own shed, by the time to get to the siding installation, you may have run out of gas. You also may have the weather in mind and don’t want to take a long time putting up the siding.

Perhaps you have some carpentry ability, but some of the siding choices seem a little out of your league. Of course, money is always an object in a building project. With these things in mind, we’ll take a look at the easiest shed siding you can install without sacrificing quality.

The top 5 easiest shed siding to install are: vinyl siding, smartslide siding, T1-11 siding, aluminum siding and solid board siding. Let’s go over each one:

1] Vinyl Siding is not only easy to install but is also the least expensive of the main siding choices. It’s lightweight and easy to handle and is also easy to cut. Vinyl usually is available in a wide assortment of colors as well. It doesn’t take much maintenance. If you get the type that resists UV rays, it won’t fade in color as vinyl used to. It’s obviously moisture resistant and rustproof. It also resists sagging and bowing.

The siding is attached to wood sheathing or wooden straps over the underlayment. They have a starter strip for the first panels and may have these strips to protect and hide the joints as well. Other special strips called J-channels go around door and window frames.

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When installing, you’ll notice that each row has been constructed with tongues and grooves to interlock with the tops of the panels beneath them. They are also manufactured so that these joints will be completely level, which takes a sizable chunk out of installation time. Once you get to the underside of the roof, a hammer and nails are all you need.

The panels usually come with pre-drilled nail holes, so you won’t have to drill them yourself. The panels often have other holes called weep holes. These are meant to allow moisture to drain off so that it doesn’t get trapped behind the siding.

You will need to pay attention to the spacing of the panels, as you will need to allow for a little expansion as the sun heats up the vinyl. This will usually be explained in the installation instructions. Get more information in my article Are Shed Siding Panels a Good Option?

2] LP SmartSide Siding. This type of siding comes in 4 x 8-foot panels much like plywood. They are 3/8-inch thick with grooves cut in every eight inches. When installed with the grooves running vertically, they look like board and batten. They look like shiplap when installed with the grooves running horizontally.

These panels are made in a similar process to OSB, but they have some important advantages to OSB. The wood strands are soaked in zinc borate before being heated and pressed together with a marine wax mixed with resin glue. This makes the panels more resistant to insects, mold and moisture.

You won’t have to worry about the moisture problems associated with OSB. The panels are finished off with a resin-type overlay called Smart Guard. It adds even more protection and gives the panels a pre-primed finish for easy painting. It usually comes with a 50-year warranty as well.

To add to the ease of installation, the panels can be attached directly to your shed studs, eliminating the need for separate sheathing if you want. All you have to do is use a construction adhesive on the studs first to ensure a firm adhesion. Some sort of flashing or sealant is recommended on openings and cut edges.

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3] T1-11 Siding. This type of siding comes in panels much like the LP SmartSide siding. It’s made of either thin layers of wood veneer like plywood or wood strands like OSB. These are glued and heat pressed together to form the board.

This type of panel also has grooves cut into it every eight inches and can also be installed with the grooves running either vertically or horizontally. This type of siding in the 19/32-inch thickness and exterior grade has actually been used as siding on houses and sheds since the 1960s.

Both the plywood and OSB versions of this board need to be either stained or primed and painted. The plywood type will stain more attractively than will the OSB type. They need to be repainted or restained every five to fifteen years, depending on your climate.

When choosing this, you’ll notice that the plywood version costs a bit more than the OSB version. However, like the LP SmartSide siding, you won’t need sheathing underneath, thus saving some money there.

Since T1-11 is not as impervious to moisture as the LP SmartSide siding is, you’ll need to take some extra precautions when using it. It’s recommended that all openings and cuts be flashed, trimmed or sealed. The boards usually lap at the seams, which helps protect the edges.

To help protect the siding, you need to use either 2-inch galvanized nails or 1-1/2-inch coated deck screws to attach the panels. They should be spaced a foot apart. If you install the panels correctly, they should last for years with a little maintenance, mainly periodic repainting or restaining.

4] Aluminum Siding. This type of siding is one of the most popular metal siding materials after steel. It is sometimes a bit more expensive than steel, but since it won’t rust, it cuts way down on the maintenance that steel can need. This also means that this type of siding is great for coastal areas and other places where the siding will be subject to salty air.

It can also be purchased with a coating that makes it waterproof. Since it’s lightweight, it is easier to cut to shape and work with than steel siding. It is good at reflecting sunlight and heat away from the shed, making it cooler than you might think.

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Aluminum siding can be purchased as a kit. It will include insulating underlayment like foam board. It should also include any other materials you might need, such as aluminum nails. These nails are important, as using other kinds of nails can result in making dents in the aluminum when installing.

5] Solid Board Siding. This type of siding is fairly easy to install with a good level, hammer and nails. It’s easy to cut to fit around doorways and windows. If you get untreated board siding, you should seal it with a coating that is water-resistant, whether primer and paint or stain. This needs to be done before installation.

It does take longer to install than siding that comes in panels, but the look is unmistakable. Of course, it provides a really solid siding that just needs repainting now and then to keep it from being affected by moisture.

If you want a unique look, you can opt for board and batten siding. This is siding in which small, narrow strips of boards called battens are nailed over the seams anywhere two planks meet. When using wide main planks, a gap is usually left to allow for expansion and contraction with the temperature. This siding should be installed vertically to help water or moisture to drain off. The battens cover the gaps nicely.

The wood may have either a smooth or rough finish, but reclaimed wood can be used as well. Of course, it needs to be stained or painted for protection. With proper care, it can last at least a good 30 years or more.

What is the Cheapest Shed Siding to Install?

Pallet Wood Siding. Pallets can be a very good source of free wood, or at least very cheap wood. Try to look for smaller businesses that may have pallets out by the trash and ask if you can have those and any extras they don’t need. Smaller businesses will often let someone have their extra pallets.

Large businesses that use a lot of pallets often have a service that provides new pallets while collecting the used ones. It’s best to figure out how many you will need and collect them all before starting your siding. Pallets come in a few different sizes, but it’s easy to tell the difference.

The skids provide a solid frame and make the pallets easy to connect. Of course, the pallets have spaces between the top boards. Some people choose to leave these open, but you can strip the boards from any pallets that have damaged boards and nail these over the slots to make solid walls.

Reclaimed Siding or Wood. If you live in a rural area, you can often score some free wood from old barns or other outbuildings. If you see an old farm building is obviously falling down, it wouldn’t hurt to ask the owner if he needs the building taken down. Similarly, you can get a lot of good wood from a wooden fence that’s falling down. Sometimes the owner will let you have the wood if you will do the work of taking down the building.

That way the owner doesn’t have to pay somebody to do it if he’s not up to the job himself. With a couple of friends with pickups, you can probably do the job in a day. Don’t forget to clean up the scraps. It’s the least you can do for all the free wood you’re getting.

T1-11 Exterior Wood Siding. This does not consist of wood planks but comes in 4 x 8-foot sheets much like plywood. It is made with a slatted form to look like rough wooden planks, complete with a knothole here and there and plenty of wood grain. It’s nice and solid, but easy to cut and work with. Your shed will have the rustic look with far less work than the finished job will make obvious.

LP Siding. This comes in a kind of knotty barn wood texture. It’s an engineered wood product that provides strength and structural integrity but is easy to work with, much like the T1-11. It also will look as if you put a lot more work into your siding than you did. It is very resistant to splitting, warping and damage from impact, such as that from flying debris.

Vinyl Siding. Vinyl is the least expensive of the popular siding options. It’s also relatively easy to install. It doesn’t need painting, and if you get the kind that resists UV rays, it can last up to 60 years.

Can You Use Plywood as Shed Siding?

You certainly can use plywood as your shed siding. You need to make sure that you get exterior-grade plywood. CDX plywood is moisture resistant and is usually touted as being the best for siding. In addition, you need to pay attention to the letter grades.

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Plywood will be rated as A, B, C or D, depending on the quality of the plywood and the smoothness of the finish. Plywood will often have two letters, such as A/C. This means that one side has the best finish with the least number of patches to fix knotholes or other defects. You can save money by getting plywood that has an A or B finish on one side to facilitate painting or staining and a C grade on the other side, which will go toward the inside of your shed.

Can I Do Vinyl Siding on My Shed Myself?

Vinyl siding may seem a bit daunting to install, but it’s really not. You can get siding kits that should include everything you need, including starter strips, J-channel strips to go around windows and doorways, and instructions. You can even get kits containing soffits and fascia covers.

You won’t need any exotic tools to install the siding. All you need are a circular saw with a plywood blade or tin snips to cut it. In a pinch, you can even score it with a knife and break it. A hammer and nails are the only other tools you’ll need.

How Much Does It Cost to Vinyl Side a Shed?

Vinyl siding does range in quality, and this is reflected in the price. The average cost for 120 square feet runs from $120 to $192 for the basic grade of siding, $168 to $252 for the better grade, and $240 to $336 for the best. Of course, this can vary with local market prices and market fluctuations. Usually, though you save about 50 percent of the cost if you do the installation yourself.

Can I Install Siding Overtop of Wood Siding?

You can if the wood siding is in good condition. Go over it carefully, looking for any warping, bowing, curling, rotting, animal damage or delaminating. If there are signs of any previous or current water problems or repairs, you’ll want to remove that part of the old siding to inspect the studs and wall cavity for damage.


Installing your own siding doesn’t have to be a huge, confusing project or even very expensive. Go over your options carefully, noting local pricing as you go, then make your decision. If you have any questions about the installation of a particular siding, be sure to ask the supplier. Once you get it done, you’ll be able to look with pride at your accomplishments, and maybe you’ll have learned a new skill as well.