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T1-11 siding is a wood or wood based siding product that reached its height of popularity in the 60's, 70's and early 80's, when a more natural, wood-grained look was all the rage. Its widespread use has dwindled as other siding materials, including steel, aluminum, composite, and vinyl siding have taken over the siding market. It is still produced, however, and if you're looking for a more natural looking siding product, T1-11 just might be the product you've been searching for and never heard about.
Plywood vs. OSB
T1-11 siding comes in two major grades, plywood and OSB (or oriented stand board). The plywood product is a little more expensive, but is a far superior product to the OSB variety because of its greater durability and expanded finishing options. Plywood T1-11, also known simply as plywood siding, can be stained if you're looking for a more natural wood look, or it can be primed and painted as well. On top of that, plywood siding can also be purchased in sanded or rough hewn varieties, although choosing between these two surfaces is purely an aesthetic choice.
Performance. Neither is better than the other when it comes to functionality. OSB products on the other hand are made of wood flakes, strands, and wafer-treated with a binding resin and then sealed together using pressure and heat. While this product is relatively strong, inexpensive, and widely used in home construction (OSB siding production has dominated the T1-11 market since its introduction in the late 1970s), it just doesn't hold up as well as its plywood counterparts. This is primarily due to the fact that because of the manufacturing process, OSB is subject to water damage over time, causing expansion and making the material more susceptible to rot and general wear and tear.
Other Considerations. The other down side of OSB T1-11 is that you can't stain this sidingit must be primed and paintedtaking away one of the primary reasons homeowners choose to go with this particular siding material. This isn't to say that you should automatically shun the OSB variety, as it is certainly a proven and cost-effective siding solution, but compared to its plywood cousin, it's safe to say you get what you pay for.
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General Maintenance and Upkeep
As with any wood siding, the trick to keeping your T1-11 siding in good condition, is diligent and regular maintenance. If you choose to stain your siding, this means re-applying a coat of protective stain every three to five years to protect it from the elements. If you choose to paint instead, you won't have to attend to the siding nearly as oftenprobably every 10-15 years, depending on the quality of the paint job. If you do choose the painting option, it's a good idea to paint the edges and joints prior to installation, as this can work wonders when it comes to extended the life of your siding and preventing water damage where it most often occurs.
Best to Hire a Professional
Because proper installation is critical for ensuring that your T1-11 siding will last as long as possible, have an expert siding contractor perform the installation for you. Again, because wood siding in general, but T1-11 in particular, is susceptible to water damage over time, the best protection you can provide is to make sure it's put on your house properly in the first place. But doing so you can rest easy that your T1-11 siding will protect your home in good measure for many years to come.