Our Exterior Siding Decisions that might Surprise you!

July 20, 2020

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Last week we met with our contractors to decide once and for all what siding we were going for on our house and my goodness, there were a lot of decisions. The original design plan called for James Hardie Aspyre siding but our contractors encouraged us to look into LP SmartSide. Normally, I would 100% just go for what the designer suggested (and I was more familiar with the James Hardie brand), but because our contractors are local, they had more experience installing both in our weather conditions and said that the SmartSide would last longer in cold, dry Idaho.

I still went in to a deep dive researching the pros and cons (this article came in handy!) and came to the conclusion: They are both incredible products.

James Hardie fiber cement advantages

  • Many styles from which to choose
  • Resists hail damage
  • Withstands winds up to 130 mph
  • Matching trim and soffit available with all siding products
  • 30-year warranty
  • Better curb appeal than vinyl siding
  • Noticeably different look and texture than other brands
  • Easy to wash
  • Durable
  • No shrinking
  • Warp resistant
  • Low maintenance
  • Good fit for weather typical of the Midwest
  • Authentic wood look without the hassles of real wood
  • Excellent seal
  • Up to five times thicker than vinyl
  • ASTM-rated for fire protection due to the fiber cement material

James Hardie fiber cement disadvantages

  • Upfront cost can be an issue for those on a tight budget
  • Material is heavier than other types, making installation more labor intensive
  • Installation takes longer than other material types
  • It will crack if not properly hauled and installed
  • Newly constructed homes that settle could result in cracked siding
  • Requires installation professionals with experience working with this material
  • It’s not the “greenest” material, which can be an issue for those who are environmentally conscious

LP SmartSide advantages

  • Aesthetics: LP SmartSide siding can be made to feature the deep cedar grain texture.
  • Protection: The patented methods used to manufacture the siding prevents it from being damaged by termites.
  • Durable: Thanks to the zinc borate, binders and resins used in manufacturing the siding, it’s incredibly resistant to moisture, making it more durable than other siding products on the market.
  • Green: Despite the use of resins and binders (which are low-emitting, safe resins), the main ingredient is wood – a renewable source material. Furthermore, the company uses SFI certified forest management and fiber sourcing systems.
  • Warranty: The five-year labor and 50-year transferable limited warranty exceeds the warranty on most other siding products in the market.
  • Reduced waste on the job site.
  • Comes in long lengths, which reduces the number of pieces required.

LP SmartSide disadvantages

  • While the warranty is 50 years, it is prorated at year six, which means coverage drops by 2.2 percent each year through the end of the warranty
  • The coating is usually applied by a finisher or applier instead of the manufacturer, which means it can flake off if not done properly
  • Installers must prime and paint the edges before installing
  • The presence of organic material in the siding mean it can burn
  • In regions where termite damage is common, the warranty might not cover that type of damage

I called on my friend, Kim from Yellow Brick Home, who recently re-sided their two-flat to see if she had any insight and she said she just asked Daniel from Manhattan Nest the same thing–the verdict: Go with SmartSide. The installation will be more affordable for us since it’s lighter and what our contractors recommend.

The next choice? The width of the siding. Our contractor assumed we’d want 12″ siding with the size of our house, but in my mind, it was a lot thinner. And then I referenced the design and it was a lot thinner, too.

And then I referenced my inspiration photos:







Apparently I like thin, dark siding. Haha! The SmartSide comes in 12″, 8″ and 6″ thickness (each will overlap 1″ so it will really look like 11, 7 and 5). I’m leaning toward the 6″!

The last decision we need to make is cedar grain or smooth.

My gut is telling me smooth, but would it look extra cottage-y in the cedar?? Help!

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What do you think?

  1. Cindi Brophey says:

    I absolutely LOVE it. I really would love to know the paint color and the name of the stone (and color)that you used. We are building a new home and we are trying to find the perfect stone/ paint combination.

    Thank you!

  2. Kelli says:

    So did you end up going with the smooth? And what size did you end up selecting?

  3. Rebekkah says:

    If you go with the combo of stone and siding I’d stay the smooth for contrast. I’d love to see it all in siding – like ALL of you inspiration photos – and in that case I’d go with the cedar texture 100%. More cottage-y too.

  4. Janine says:


  5. Chelsea says:

    Loving the look of the thin boards! My vote is smooth, just not a fan of “fake” wood texture.

  6. Courtney says:

    Smooth for a classic look.

  7. Housefan says:

    We just did a house in Hardie on the smooth side in black and it shows every bump/bulge/paint drip you didn’t know was on the board! Cedar side wins!

  8. Vicki says:

    Definitely cedar. But I would have chosen Hardie board so don’t listen to me. I have Hardie board and as the ACC for our POA, required Hardie over the proposed vinyl siding for the rest of the new house development in our community. We have so much humidity in the south and Hardie works so well here and looks so fabulous.

  9. LD says:

    Hardie siding is standard here in Georgia. LP siding had a huge issue in the 90’s and many homes had to have the siding replaced. Hardie also will bring insurance rates down due to its fire resistance. Don’t know if that is an issue where you are. Hardie install is also more difficult and if it is not done right you’ll have more issues. Decisions, decisions.

    Can’t wait to see the results!

  10. Ron says:

    Decisions, decisions. Try a ” mock up” as we call it in the industry. It’s a simple six foot by six foot application of product done on 3/4″ plywood painted or stained whatever your desired finish is. Ask your contractor to construct a panel and move it to various spots of your house. This helps to give a visual perspective about product, color, and depth. Hope this helps.

  11. Juliet says:

    100 percent so happy that you went with smooth and with thin siding. I live in a historic district and smooth siding is required rather than the fake “weathered” looking siding. If you were to purchase new cedar siding, it would be smooth. The only reason old houses have texture is from years of age and paint – that is something that can’t be replicated, and you would not want to replicate. We have that wood grain siding on our soffit (the house is stucco, Spanish-style), and if I focus on it, it drives me crazy – in my mind, it looks fake and cheap. I also think the thin siding was is more historic as well – plus, I just prefer the way it looks. So I am loving your inspiration photos.

  12. John Miller says:

    This video is good to watch for Hardie and LP.

  13. Ashley says:

    This is like reading reviews on Amazon, hoping to make a confident purchase, and then just getting even more confused. ????

    It sounds like you’ve done your research and your contractor knows what he’s talking about. I’m sure you’ll make the right choice.

  14. Robin says:

    Great choice! For climates that get snow that can drift or build up along a house LP SmartSide is best as Hardieboard needs to dry out. We did a ton of research on siding as we planned our exterior remodel for the last 2 years and almost went with LP…ended up going with a composite that was similar.

    The thing to consider with LP is that all of the trim, light blocks, utility blocks, fascia, and corner pieces only comes in the cedar texture. So I’d recommend going with cedar everywhere to help it all blend in. With the custom dark paint color it won’t be too noticeable. Can’t wait to see the finished look!

  15. Helen says:

    Your gut is right because it’s not a cottage

    • Janet says:

      As recent UK transplant, I have learned a lot about this and it sounds like you could too.

      English cottage is a different style than American cottage. In the UK, an American cottage might be called a summer house.

      American Cottage is often defined as: “cottage is used in North America to represent “a summer residence (often on a large and sumptuous scale) at a watering-place or a health or pleasure resort”

      English Cottage is “the term cottage is used in a more general and romantic context and can date from any era but the term is usually applied to pre-modern dwellings.” Features often include exposed timbers/rafters, emphasize a relationship with nature on a large lot, tall-narrow windows, cross-gabled with a steep roof, stucco/shingle/lap siding, overscale chimneys, and arched doorways, cozy rooms with low ceilings, asymmetrical shape of home.

      CLJ has stated they are going for English Modern Cottage.

      English Cottage style

      If you didn’t know, now you know. :)

  16. Sabrina says:

    I’d go with 8” smooth. A nice well balanced selection! ;-))

  17. Allie says:

    Cedar looks nice but trendy. Smooth seems more timeless. Also the dark color might look darker on smooth without light reflecting all over it like it would on the cedar.

  18. Paige says:

    I already voted smooth and skinny but I also wanted to add that I don’t think standard thickness fiber cement siding in a wide exposure ever looks good. I just don’t think there’s a product that exists in nature that would be strong enough at only 5/16 thick to clad that wide a swath of building. So to me it’s a dead giveaway that it’s fake.

  19. Karen Simon Peterson says:

    I say, go with your gut. Personally, I prefer the cedar. Not very helpful, I know. Sorry.

  20. Ginny says:

    The cedar has my vote.

  21. Erin says:

    We are doing 7.25″ Hardie lap siding with a 6″ reveal painted with SW Tricorn Black in flat finish on our new build. Our second floor will be board and batten, same color, going for a “forest farmhouse” vibe. We opted for smooth instead of cedar and are painting every plank and board before installation because we are doing it ourselves and want to get the best coverage. Going dark gets dusty during construction, especially flat or matte paint, and you probably need to paint again after installation. Imperfections and dust included, black is just stunning on an exterior and the greenery really pops. Whatever you choose it’s gonna be awesome!

  22. Amy says:

    All of your inspo photos have texture – go with the cedar!

  23. Paige says:

    Omg absolutely smooth! I feel so strongly about this. The printed looks so fake. I live in an old neighborhood in Seattle. The houses that re-side in smooth Hardie (like ours, 5.25″ boards at a 3″ exposure) totally blend in with the old houses. The textured ones…no. No no just no!

  24. Allison says:

    I sent you a picture of our dark textured lp smartside on Instagram, but I thought of one more thing to consider. For proper expansion and contraction of the siding you need to leave a gap at all of the butt joints. The gap gets caulked, but I think the texture makes those caulked seams disappear more. If it was smooth it may draw more attention to the caulked seams

    • Paige says:

      We used hardie-specific flashing at the joints rather than caulk because all of our research indicated this was a longer lasting solution than caulk (i.e. the caulk will fail after a couple of seasons). The seams don’t bother me at all – it’s just a part of the nature of a building material, whether historical or modern. We love our smooth!

      • Erin says:

        Yes-never caulk the butt joints! Make sure your contractor uses Bear Skins at plank joints. We painted the Bear Skins because they are gray and didn’t want the contractions to reveal a lighter colored strip behind the planks. We also made sure to paint the moisture barrier in any area that the planks butt up to the trim boards, they usually get caulked there but again the caulk will eventually fail and you will see white underneath. Get the black caulk, don’t paint it ever, and get the good stuff $$. White trim would prob hide some of those details but when you go all dark that stuff is noticeable.

  25. Leah says:

    I do like the look of smooth, but cedar will show fewer imperfections and hide the dust a little more, so practically speaking, I’d go that route.

  26. Erica says:

    If you go with 6″ cedar, it will give it more of a cottage look. If you go with the 6″ smooth, it will lean more modern. You’ll still get your modern cottage look either way. Just have to decide if you want more modern or cottage :) good luck!

  27. Debbie says:

    My gut tells me smooth as well. With a dark color how much grain is really visible anyway?!

  28. Ashley H. says:

    I would go 6” and the cedar texture. It will give you the more organic vibe you’re going for. The dark color will give you the mood. I think smooth siding can look a bit tacky after a while and it’s also harder to hide imperfections, say, if a piece were ever to get dented or scratched somehow.

  29. beth says:

    I’m team 6″ cedar, but smooth will be gorgeous as well. Cannot wait to see it!

  30. Michelle says:

    Narrower siding feels way more historically accurate to me, but I do think that is regional. I grew up where there was a large assortment of turnof the century homes needing updates. Victorian and Queen Anne style…When they couldn’t keep the original wood, The people who chose narrower siding always ended up with a more pleasing look. I think the farmhouse style and coastal cottages swing toward broader siding. But for the English cottage look you are seeking I think you should trust your gut (and the designers) and go with the 6”. It will be liked a refined pencil line in dark and, I think, elegant at the scale of this home. Not sure about wood grain or smooth tbh. Both seem beautiful. Which do you prefer looking at up close?

  31. Susan says:

    We put up hardie board about 12-14 years ago. It’s smooth and we don’t have any dents/scratches. Our neighbor used the cedar look and it looks fake BUT they did choose this horrible light green color. I do prefer the smooth look. It’s just so clean and classic looking. The smooth is really easy to paint. The neighbor’s house with the cedar looked like it took a lot longer to paint.

  32. Jenise DeVoe says:

    We resided our house in Annapolis, MD in LP SmartSide in Jan 2019. Ours was pre-finished, a medium gray color, and we were so pleased with it. We did the cedar finish and also had cedar shingles (in smartside) installed on an upper gable of our house. In pictures the cedar texture in the horizontal boards isn’t really visible. Either way you go, it’s a great product and we couldn’t have been happier with it!

  33. Alya says:

    Go with your gut! Go for the smooth one
    It won’t be too noisy with your stone walls

  34. mimi says:

    Smooth because it is more modern looking to this West Coast gal.
    And I say, have Daniel & Kim send you photos of the sizes they used before you buy.
    You have a very large and grand surface in the front– next to the stones – and you just might wish to do the 8 inch– you & Chris will know what’s best for you.

  35. Natalie says:

    As a builder I always recommend cedar texture over smooth for durability and long term maintenance. Smooth siding shows imperfections and nail holes much more than textured. That being said I know aesthetic is very important as well! I am not as familiar with Smartside as I am with Hardie. Can you stagger joint Smartside
    like you can Hardie? We use Miratec for our trim areas as they withstand moisture much more than Smartside or Hardie. The joints don’t swell so it is great for maintenance. We use it regularly over in SW Idaho but I am not sure if it is readily available in Eastern Idaho. Whatever you decide I am just covets to see the end result!

  36. Nerida says:

    The wood grain has the more country feel. The smooth looks a little more industrial? Both are super cool. (For what it’s worth I feel like the wood grain feels a bit more “cottage” and therefore more suitable to your house). Can’t wait to see it come to life!

  37. Malia says:

    My gut said flat also but those inspo photos all look like they’ve got a lot of texture under that paint! I think I might vote for cedar!

  38. Jennifer says:

    Go with the cedar! I think it would stand up better to the elements, dents or marks won’t be so obvious.

  39. Sarah says:

    6” plank smooth!

  40. Amanda says:

    Contractors are great at construction methods, installation, and durability.

    For design trust your gut. Your inspiration images appeared mostly thin and smooth – go for it!

  41. Prima Hayter says:

    I would ask your builder to do a mock-up of both smooth and textured. We can all voice our opinions here, but ultimately there is no wrong choice; it has to just be what feels right to you. A mock-up will give you the chance to decide for yourself. It’s a small cost to get a visual comparison of how each will feel.

  42. Danielle says:

    Smooth. I’m 100% team smooth. The cedar grain is like faux marble or wood-look tile… things pretending to be other things rarely look convincing enough. It’s the uncanny valley… but with finishes instead of faces.

  43. Trish says:

    Although the wood grain is beautiful, I would totally go for smooth. It would be more of a modern cottage look to me. I think you’ll already have enough texture with the stone.

  44. Kim says:

    From the Midwest here— we just used 4” smooth hardie Lap siding on our 100 yr old four square. The smooth is more historic but I also think more modern in the right color like all your concept images. We considered LP but liked the warranty on Hardie for our location. We put up SW cascades (dark green) and I will not regret it!

  45. Frances says:

    Go with your gut! Smooth

  46. Frances says:

    Go with your gut!

  47. paige says:

    LP smart side! Literally just talked to a contractor about this today – weird! LP is much more durable than Hardie… check it out for yourself. Hardie will bend and snap/break when carrying it parallel to the ground (usually has to be carried perpendicular, if that makes sense?) and LP can be bent and will not break. LP smart side is the way to go!
    Also cedar – looks so beautiful in person!

  48. Amy says:

    Sooooooo good. I’d go 8”, cedar texture, if it were me…but that’s just based on pics, obviously ???? I do think the texture would lean more “cottage,” as long as you don’t think it will look too busy – it’s hard to say from photos, isn’t it? Can’t wait to see the results – no bad choice here!

  49. Alli says:

    Smartside is a good choice! My husband is actually the innovation manager for LP’s siding business so he would be thrilled to hear you made the right choice :) His vote would be that if you’re going dark you should go cedar, and if you’re going light – choose smooth. It’s going to be gorgeous! Can’t wait to see the finished product!

  50. chandler says:

    If you’re going skinny, do smooooth.

  51. Kaitlynn says:

    Immediately, I thought, “Easy. Cedar. They want a cottage feel. But I thought about it more and I think smooth would work better especially with thinner boards, I think it will create a texture on it’s own. That, coupled with the stone, should create a modern, moody cottage feel. I’m sure it will be beautiful regardless.

  52. Rebecca says:

    We are almost done with our new build right now and we went with the “cedar” look (but I think we used James Hardie… can’t remember). Our house style/exterior is colonial and we went with an dark green from Sherwin Williams and IM OBSESSED. I think the cedar adds texture and people have made good points about it hiding imperfections. Smooth is definitely more traditional and looks more like traditional vinyl plank siding. I think it’s a beautiful look! But I think the cedar will add to the cottage vibes!

  53. Kara says:

    I think the cedar texture is so beautiful and would fit with the style of your home! Plus it would hide the wear over the years!

  54. Carolynn says:

    I would have to Photoshop before deciding. My original choice would be cedar for a cottage feel but now I worry that it might be too busy. It looks like the majority of your inspiration pics are smooth?

  55. Alexis says:

    I’m writing to you from our home in rural Massachusetts – the land of the Little Women house that you love! I totally get the look you’re going for and think thin smooth boards would be a great nod to historic Shaker-era homes! I wish you’d written this post a year ago when we were choosing siding for our new build. I was trying to get LP Smartside but our builder was more familiar with Hardie Board so we went with that. We have smooth 6″ white siding and I love it on our modern farmhouse. I could see the cedar working well on your modern cottage!

  56. Shannon says:

    I agree with those saying smooth for smaller boards. Let the layered look of the smaller boards be the texture.

  57. Jordan says:

    I think since you have texture in the stones, go with smooth. It won’t compete. :)

  58. Laurie Vannelli says:

    I would go SMOOTH! Sometimes the painted ‘cedar looking harder’ looks fake. Not sure about the product you will be using?!

  59. Dianne Phillips says:

    Definitely smooth. With a 6″ board, 5″ reveal – it’s busy enough. Smooth is classic.

    Look forward to your choices and viewing the entire reveal!

  60. Marianne says:

    I think I would do textured if the planks were wider, but with the narrow, I lean towards the smooth.

  61. Robin Kelly says:

    Smooth! Most cedar-sided houses I’ve seen here in Colorado are quite smooth. Also, I just painted my clapboard house black and it emphasizes grain (and imperfections).

  62. Ashley says:

    We did smooth hardie board and painted it SW Iron Ore and we’re so so so happy with it!

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Ashley- We are in the process of using hardie board and would like to use Iron ore. Did you have it painted at the factory? The Hardie rep is telling us that black ash from their dream collection is the same as iron ore. It does not look like it to us. Any insight would be so helpful. Thanks!

  63. I think cedar only because it will make the house look more like a cottage and almost more vintage or old…in a good way!

  64. Christina says:

    Cedar. Any texture hides all marks/scuffs, minor dents from stray golf ball, etc. But whichever will look amazing!

  65. Jess Hollenbach says:

    6”, dark, printed!! I think it’ll be stunning with the stone work.

  66. My first thought was smooth too because it seems so clean and fresh, then I did a double take and I love the texture it would add. And it would be so good with the vibes! I like the 6 in siding as well. ????

  67. Erika says:

    I’m way too much of a practical person to choose the smooth – what if it gets dented or scratched up!? Cedar gets my vote!

  68. Cori says:

    Always follow your gut!!! But I personally would probably choose textured because if anything bumps or scratches it it’s less noticeable- but I think it is more like a cottage. But def follow your gut.

  69. Brittney says:

    Smooth! It matches your inspo pictures and looks more modern.

  70. Ev says:

    This morning i was thinking smooth and now i’m team cedar! gonna be awesome either way.

  71. CC says:

    I’d pick the Smooth!

  72. Megan Hoops says:

    Hi! I remember you saying that you had a couple of calls available to use with Studio McGee as part of their design package. Have you thought about consulting them for the siding decisions or do you have something else you’re saving them for?

  73. Erin Eastman says:

    What are you doing with the roof? If multiple shades and a more textured material (if I remember right it is going to look like wood shingles) I vote plain! With so many thin lines close together I feel like plain will look cleaner and updated. If a solid color cement tile or slate roof then I vote textured.

  74. Alyssa says:

    I just bought a house and it has real cedar siding, and it’s all that I never knew I wanted and loved. I vote totally go with the cedar print! I think it’s a nice rustic touch to compliment the stone, but being that it’s painted it still looks so clean. Good luck!

  75. Missy says:

    I LOVE the look of the smooth but I would be worried about it showing surface blemishes/damage much easier than the textured siding.

  76. I love all your inspo pics! The cedar might make things look more interesting, but smooth is more “modern”

  77. Nora says:

    I really have no experience to offer, but do what you feel in your gut!! I think I would personally do texture because texture is always welcome, you can always modernize with landscaping choices, not to mention your new black windows are modern in themselves. So maybe Cedar texture would add the traditional/timeless element when going with a modern color and window choice? Tbh don’t stress too much, both will look great. Your stone also has tons of texture so smooth will be great too!

    Also, what’s the window trim going to be? Could that be the opposite of whatever you choose?

  78. Katie says:

    We have real-wood narrow-lap cedar siding on our old house, much like your inspo photos, and it’s almost perfectly smooth. I think, when going w/faux, that the less detail the better. If you were to go on a neighborhood walk and focus only on siding, I’ll posit that it’s a lot harder to tell the difference between smooth cement board siding and real wood than textured cement board siding and real wood.

  79. Clare Tyner says:

    We love our cedar. It ads so much depth when you’re looking at it from a distance. I don’t think we will ever go back!

  80. Jo says:

    Thin and smooth

  81. Sabrina says:

    Cedar- I think the smooth over time will need repair with it’s lack of texture.

  82. Morgan says:

    We recently had all of our siding replaced with textured hardy and my husband and I both regretted it after! We wish we’d done smooth. I feel like when wood is planed, it’s typically to make it smooth, so to me, the grain looks fake. With that being said, I also think this is something that I, as the homeowner, prob overthink! It will look beautiful either way.

  83. Sara Kral says:

    I’m sure you’ve already done this, but I’ll throw it out anyway! Ask your siding contractor for addresses of homes in the area they’ve sided. That way you can see first-hand how cedar looks versus smooth. Staring at photos online or even a small sample is so different than seeing it all over a house! Driving by houses helped us decide which best suited our style. Good luck to you guys and I can’t wait to see more of your exterior progress! Thanks for taking us along for the ride! :)

  84. Meredith says:

    Skinny Cedar! ????

  85. Melissa Humbert says:

    Smooth!!! We have the wood printed and it frankly looks lower end than the smooth houses around here. I’m not sure why though…

  86. Connie says:

    I live in New England (Cape Cod) and any historical area that you drive through will have houses with a smooth clapboard (cement siding is not allowed). The rough grain will look artifical.

  87. meagan says:

    Honestly, whatever I prefer you’re going to decide the opposite. I’m going to question it. Probably judge a little internally. Then it will be perfect and I will be wrong and I won’t mind because it’ll be so beautiful. At least that’s how it usually works out.

  88. Abby says:

    Cedar, no question! All the newer homes in our area (Iowa) have this product – our house is 8” cedar in the tundra gray. Next door I think is the cavern steel color. You want the grain, it is not busy or super obvious, but appears to be wood, not vinyl, and is just so much better! Excited to see you use the more narrow size!

  89. Frannie says:

    6” smooth
    Classy and not too many different textures with the stone and garage doors etc.

  90. Laurielulu says:

    Ok, my two cents….Fam has 100 year old farmhouse colonial, not as formal as a colonial. She has smooth 10” beveled planks of redwood. I think the smooth is more modern and I would prefer 8” planks. Your house is huge the thinner will be a lot .

  91. Erin says:

    I work in building material sales and the reason for the textured finish on both LP and Harding’s is because it hides imperfections. We get way more complaints and returns on smooth siding because any defect can be seen due to the light reflecting. So anytime the mower throws a rock or a kid crashes their bike into the siding those little scuffs show up more on a smooth surface.

  92. Audrey says:

    We did smooth on our front porch and we have had major problems with the edges. They’re curving up and splitting on the edges. It does not look good. I think, from my research, that your installer really has to know what he’s doing. It has to be very primed and painted correctly. It would make me nervous for you to do smooth. Sooo, I’d say textured just to make sure it stays looking good for longer! Good luck! I’m sure it’s going to be beautiful!!!!

  93. I thought for sure you’d lean toward the grain, not smooth! It’s going to look great!

  94. Emily says:

    We have wood grain cedar shakes in hardie board on the front of our house in a dark blue. The back and sides have smooth hardie planks and they show lots of imperfections in my opinion! Definitely recommend the wood grain!

  95. Ashley says:


  96. Brienne says:

    This is so fun! With the stone sections, there will be plenty of texture and when I think of old homes with narrow plank siding they have been painted over so many times that the planks look smooth. For this reason I lean towards smooth!

  97. Colleen says:

    Growing up in WI our house was a tan textured to look like wood vinyl – neighbor on each side had smooth texture (one white and one tan). Ours always showed every ounce of dirt, pollen, snow/slush and we’d have to power wash every spring and fall so it didn’t look dirty. Never saw a spot on the neighbors house. Obviously different material, but I do imagine that dust and snow/slush will cling to texture all the same.

    Also – stone and roof shingles along with landscaping will provide enough visual texture balance for contrast.

  98. Kelsey says:

    I had cedar grooved siding on my very first house I owned, and painted it a dark color and loved the look of it. Once you paint it dark, the grooves become less noticeable and like someone else said, can get away with imperfections. It adds a layer of texture that I think would really compliment the look you are going for.
    Good luck, can’t go wrong with either one though.

  99. Hannah says:

    It looks like there is texture in your inspiration photos, too. I think you should go with the grain, but either will look amazing! Go with your gut and it will look beautiful and we will all love it!

  100. amy says:

    I would definitely do the 8″ cedar grain! The 6″ could look too puny on your huge house. The 8″ will still look “thin,” but properly scaled. And I think the cedar grain is so rich looking with a dark paint. Can’t wait to see!

  101. Lilly says:

    Gah, such a tough choice !!! My vote goes to 6” smooth… the exterior has beautiful textures from the roof you chose and the brick accent areas ! To tie in a bit of modern, I would go smooth. (But…. could easily sway back the other way…. ????????‍♀️)

  102. Monica says:

    I would go with the widest planking offered – the thinner it is, the more “busy” it will look and that will only play up the McMansion aspect of your home.

    • Ally says:

      I agree Monica. A small portion of the homes in my neighborhood have the really skinny siding, and it’s so busy that it makes the whole house seem “off”. This house is also really tall, and I think the wider planks would have a similar effect on a taller home that a skinny plank would have on a shorter home. Scale is a big issue with McMansions, and I think this is such a big aspect of the home (and expense) that I would do everything in my power to minimize it. The dark siding will definitely help, and I think the smooth would look more like the planed siding on historical buildings.

  103. Ken says:

    The darker siding will look better in the thinner widths and with the cedar texture. With a house that dark you want the texture through the lines and the wood grain to help it reflect light and shadow. If it is wider and smooth it won’t provide the play from the light/ shadows that give interest and depth.

  104. Amanda says:

    Is there an advantage or disadvantage to either one? Is one more prone to chipping for example? Or harder to clean/pressure wash? Personally I’m #teamtexture and think it will look nice up against your stone elements! But seems like a total personal choice, you guys have been killing it with the design decisions lately- I know you won’t go wrong whatever you choose!

  105. Bethany says:

    We have LP Smart Side Cedar grooved siding (12 inch). We love it for so many reasons, but I like the grooved because it adds some texture and hides imperfections. The texture isn’t too obvious when painted dark (and low sheen). Our neighbor’s house is flat and you can definitely see any problem areas. If paint chips or scratches, we can just paint over ours…they have to scrap and sand (and the touched up areas still are obvious).

    • Liz says:

      This might be the most helpful comment I’ve seen. The way it wears is everything! Plus I love the textures look for more character :)

  106. Jordi Balan says:

    I believe in your gut, “smooth texture,” and I’ve seen the magic that happens because of it.

  107. Brittany says:

    Smooth all the way

  108. Katie Farris says:

    I sent you an IG DM but something to note with the rough grain is you will have to most likely do flat paint to get it to look right. We are about to paint our new construction house black that we have primed cedar siding on and we did a test spot of satin paint and it looked awful, so just something to keep in mind that you will probably have to do a flat paint and it can be harder to wash, etc.

  109. jill says:

    I think narrow boards with faux texture will be texture overload all over a house. I think you want a touch of modern ti it…not totally rustic faux farmhouse

  110. Taylor says:

    My neighborhood has a lot home with thin dark siding which was the original design when the homes were built in the 60/70s. I think it looks SO rich with the grain – I would definitely go cedar grain!

  111. Kerrie says:

    Looks like all of your inspiration are cedar like, so that’s where I would go.

  112. Lynn says:

    Cedar for sure! To me, the smooth just looks boring.

  113. Deb says:

    Cedar look. It’s siding which is imitating wooden planks. Makes sense to have a grain. Smooth will look like cement fibre planks painted.

  114. Alice says:

    Both will look great! I am leaning towards the cedar because it can hide the dirt and it will embody cottage feel you are looking for.

  115. Lauren says:

    Definitely cedar grain!!

    Also, did you know that Hardie needs to potentially be painted down the road? Our contractor told us that and we switched gears immediately!

  116. Debbie Ricks says:

    You were so right about the comments being all over!!! I read this post first thing this morning and it had zero comments, but due to your stories… I came back to read them!! Wow… alot to consider!! But after reading the comments, my vote is 6 inch smooth!!!! I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE WHAT YOU GUYS LAND ON!!!!

  117. Kari says:

    We have cedar, 6”, hale navy, but they ran it vertically instead of horizontally!

  118. Sharon says:


  119. Kim says:

    You are going to love the Lp smartside. We do! We have the larger size cedar printed and painted it dark (not quite as dark as this but a dark grey). It still looks like new 4 years later. And it’s held up super well to extreme weather. Great choice!

  120. Cory says:

    I think up close the texture of the cedar is a bit much, it from afar? I think it will look amazing. I say texture. Smooth finish reminds me of cheap vinyl siding. Which my house has in spades.

  121. Chris says:

    Smooth. We have a historic (1850) home, and when replacing siding with a manufactured product (Hardie is standard here, due to termites), the committee overseeing historic renovations strongly encourages smooth. Original wood siding was smooth, without that very intense texture, as it was not trying “convince” anyone it was wood.
    Having had this drilled into me, I now see that texture finish as a dead giveaway for a fake, modern product. Like when engineered floors have that wood “grain” that even photographs in 3D, making it looks so obviously fake.

  122. Tracy Williams says:

    Julia, I have a dark smooth wide surface siding by hardie. I wanted a maintenance free exterior. We love in Nebraska in the country. The dark siding has been a frustration. It shows layers of dust and dirt and bird poop. When I try to clean off areas the washed part really shows against the unwashed areas. It has also oxidized leaving a chalky white grime. It is 2 years old. We complained to the company. They finally agreed to helping us pay to paint it. (It was originally painted and done at the factory). Needless to say installation was $$$$$! I love the look but hate the work to keep it up. I wish at the time they would have had the cedar look. I think it would have helped hide the grime etc. I’m not sure the LP will be any different in maintenance. soooo. What I’m getting at is….go with the cedar And just know that dark colors show dirt!! Love your look and love following g you. Happy Reno!!

  123. Liz says:

    All of your inspiration photos have the grain. I think the texture is the look you are going for.

  124. Megan says:

    My parents have all smart side and they love it! The texture is incredible, it looks so real and adds such a rich depth! I vote go for the texture!

  125. Bee says:

    Real cedar wouldn’t really be that rough anyways so go with smooth!

  126. Julia Rossi says:

    We went with a cement siding 6” and it is dark…two things we noticed in the process that might be helpful 1.) the dark color it takes more paint, even in a high quality exterior paint. (We went with inkwell by Sherwin Williams) And 2.) I am glad we went with the “cedar” finish so the wood texture hides any paint imperfections due to the number of coats and thickness of the exterior paint

  127. Amanda says:

    Hi! First time comment but I also live in a dry very cold climate. You’ll want the smooth since in the winter when there isn’t foliage for the texture to play off of the houses with texture tend to look more scruffy against the starker landscape. Smooth will help make your house look crisp and well loved all year long. I wish I could change my siding to smooth – living vicariously through you! Everything you do looks wonderful, I love following along.

  128. Jan says:

    Smooth would add the modern touch you guys are so great at bringing into your designs.

    We had hardie siding in our last (newly built) house and while I liked it, i didn’t find it as durable as promised. The colour flaked off in a few areas where it had been trimmed and the white interior showed. Which frustrated me. And I was told by my BIL who is a contractor, if you live somewhere damp (we did) the cement board can absorb moisture and warp as well.

    Can’t wait to see your choices.

  129. Luke says:

    100% go with smooth. I am an architect and I have used both of these products as well as natural cedar. The idea with siding of course is to mimic real wood. Real cedar siding is quite smooth when painted. Also the artificial texture collects dust and dirt. I would also be sure to use smooth on the trim boards. When the textured siding is cut it really exposes the artificial embossing along cut lines. I think that the size of the boards will give the visual texture you’re looking for.

  130. Kendal Jacques says:

    Cedar for me! It seems like the older structures you like have more organic texture!

  131. Kelly Lemieux says:


  132. Alina Valencia says:

    Definitely wood grain specially for the cottage feel your going for. After all that’s what makes cottages so charming all the different textures ????

  133. Janie Claiborne says:

    We used Hardie wood grain and love the look. I think a Cedar look siding would add so much more warmth and a cottage feel.

  134. Whitney says:

    I would ask your contractor if he can give you addresses of houses in your area with smooth and cedar texture SmartSide siding. Then you can see in real life which look you want. My vote is for the cedar texture. We went with SmartSide after our contractor recommended it over Hardie and have been very happy (we live in Iowa). Ours came pre-primed which was very helpful since our siding was installed in late October and we didn’t have a good window weather/temperature-wise until spring.

    • Kara says:

      You didn’t have a good window of time to paint? Only asking because we might be in that same boat this Fall, paint doesn’t usually happen after October we’re told, but we can’t find a contractor to do the work sooner and this is a concern I have.

  135. Jamie says:

    Go with your gut – smooth

  136. Amy says:

    I live in New England, the older homes always had a rougher finish because of how the wood was planed. I vote cedar for a more authentic look.

  137. Rebekah S says:

    All of your inspo pics have texture. I think you would be happier with cedar if you stick to your inspirations. Smooth would be more modern, so I guess that goes with modern cottage. Huh. Not helpful!! Either way, I can’t wait!

  138. Coran says:

    What a helpful blog post! Thank you! I wonder if your gut is telling you smooth because although with it being 6” it will look cottaga-y maybe the smooth will bring some modern? To me your inspiration photos look like they match the cedar finish more? But sometimes those texture finishes can look really fake. Aaahh I’m no help.

  139. EP says:

    I would definitely go with the 6” smooth. The texture on the cedar version is a little heavy to the point where I’m afraid it will look fake en masse. Looking at some other pictures of the siding in question the smooth actually looks both modern and classic. I really like it!

  140. kim says:

    I’d do cedar grain, I think, because it gives more life and dimension to the product. That said, Its probably best to sample your exterior color choice on both options so you can better visualize it.

  141. Katy W says:

    Just basing it on the inspiration photos…I’m thinking the textured one. The more modern one with the outdoor dining set looks smooth to me, but all the other ones look more like the matte, textured look. Both are stunning! Can’t wait!

  142. Sarah says:

    We had our siding replaced last year and in a choice between smooth or wood grain our installers recommended wood grain as the smooth shows all the imperfections. We have a 100 year old house so there are a lot of imperfections!

  143. Alissa Boehm says:

    Texture, baby! My vote is Cedar! ????

  144. Courtney says:

    I completely agree with 6in and I’d say smooth!

  145. Joseph King says:

    Go with the wood grain it will show better once coated than the smooth.

  146. Jenny says:

    Do smooth!! We just bought a house that has the cedar style and it’s a BEAST to clean. One pressure wash didn’t work very well.

  147. Kelly says:

    Hmm, I can see the dilemma. I wish there was an in-between texture – not as smooth as smooth but not as rough as cedar. Between the two, I would go with the smooth, because you need a little visual break between the highly-textured roof and highly-textured stone. (just my humble opinion)

  148. Carrie says:

    I’m excited to see the Smart Siding go up! A lot of folks in our area use Hardie, so I am very interested in learning about new options! So while I can’t speak to the texture options in the Smart Siding, in the Hardie, the cedar looks fake. In my opinion nothing can truly replicate the look of real wood, so I always lean towards the smooth option.

  149. Maya says:

    I tried googling inspiration images with this product, and the textured ones don’t look busy at all! They simply look more matte and less plastic-y, and I think that’s what you’re going for. Excited to see this come together!!!

  150. Judith says:

    When looking at your inspirations, there seems to be another decision, unless the siding dictates that through availability: there is both tongue-in-groove there and a sort of shingle-overlap (1st and 4th inspiration – and sorry, I don’t know the accurate terms there, but I think you can see what I mean).

    The shingle-overlap would probably look best with the cedar style, as it very much emulates a wood-sided house.

    With the tongue-in-groove kind, either could work. I’d probably get test pieces and see how each of them works with the paint sheen on the colour you’re planning to use. I would’t be surprised if an obvious favourite emerged there.

  151. Jasmine says:

    Smooth and 6 inch!

  152. Liz says:

    Are there any blowing dust/dirt issues in your area? I have light siding and the red dust shows up and requires a good washing every season. It’s ok for the lower areas where I can reach, but getting the upper areas cleaned is a challenge.

    If so, the smoother board might be easier maintenance due to fewer ridges to gather the dust & dirt.

  153. Debi says:

    I don’t usually comment, but I had a house with actual cedar that was installed rough side out. It was horrible. It especially looks bad if you ever want to use a lighter color. It looked busy and unpolished. If you look at most older houses, their real wood siding is smooth (old growth wood didn’t have as much grain in it). Smooth side out will give you more future options. And as a previous poster said, you have other features to bring out the cottagy look. Don’t make them all compete with each other. I can see, from your picture above, how many would think that the cedar look would be better, but I would encourage you to look at pictures of an entire house with that siding.

  154. Kinga says:

    Cedar for sure!

  155. Julie says:

    It’s going to be stunning! All of your inspiration images seem to have visible grain, so I’m leaning cedar. What do you like about the smooth?

  156. Melissa says:

    Cedar for sure!! I think smooth looks plastic-y on houses. Cedar will up the cottage factor.

  157. Catherine says:

    I have both types – it’s a long story! – but my house is from 1876 and aesthetically we wanted to keep it as an updated but clearly an old house. But without a doubt my favorite to look at and clean down is the smooth. I think the cottagey-y feel you seek will be achieved very nicely via your color choice and stone work. The smooth will just make it looked polished and well kept.

  158. Tara says:

    If you were going with the wider planks, I’d do the cedar texture. However, because you’re going to have a lot going on with the more narrow planks, I’d let that be star of the show and go smooth.

    All I can think when I see the inspo pictures is Orchard House from Little Women! All the heart eyes!

  159. Mary says:

    Go with your gut girl!

  160. Mara says:

    6″ in the grain, that’s what shows in all of your inspo pics.

  161. Joanna says:

    Cedar! Cedar! Cedar!

  162. Lori says:

    I would definitely do the 6″ cedar. The smooth finish is definitely a modern look. The cedar looks like real wood!

  163. Carrie says:

    I guess the question you need to ask yourself regarding cedar grain vs. smooth: which are you leaning more toward in your modern cottage aesthetic? More modern… or more cottage? And which do you think you may need more of in the design as a whole compared to the other modern or cottage elements?

  164. Marsha Johnson says:

    I forgot to leave the link on the prepainted LP Smartside. It is called Diamond Kote

  165. Marsha Johnson says:

    We have this LP Smartside siding – prepainted with a 30 year no fade warranty. We have the color Onyx (black) and have received so many compliments on it.

  166. Sarah says:

    Definitely go with the cedar. It’ll add awesome texture up close, feels a little more rustic in keeping with Idaho being a western state, and will look great with your cedar shingles. Your inspiration pics also look to be either real wood or a product meant to mimic the look of real wood. They have imperfections and areas where the paint is less dark or darker and I think that helps add to the character and vibe of those pictures. You’ll get that with the cedar look. The smooth look might end up feeling too modern, too perfect, and a little less charming.

  167. Katy says:

    I’m surprised you went with the smart siding since one of the disadvantages of it is that the organic material in it makes it flammable. Is this a concern at all?

  168. Deb says:

    I vote for the smooth siding. Thank you for this helpful post about the pros and cons of each siding. I didn’t know hardy board could crack.

  169. Liz says:

    My gut is telling me that the 6″ boards with the cedar finish would be almost like a texture overload when applied to the whole side of a house. I love the cedar option, but it might be better on the wider boards, so it can be appreciated. The 6″ smooth boards match your inspo pics perfectly!

    • Janet says:

      I like the 6 inch board in smooth. I have never seen an older home that has painted exterior siding where the boards had a raised texture. The boards may have been painted several times over the years, but are still smooth with no raised grain pattern. We used James Hardie narrow boards with smooth grain. I like it painted by hand with a brush so you can see the brush marks.

      • Mirror says:

        Coming from Vermont, where the majority of historic homes have skinny siding, they are all smooth. If the goal is to mimic a classic home and add modern touches, then I think the dark paint color and other elements do that. Keep siding smooth.

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