One of the Hansen Buildings team members happens to have more than some expertise in the lumber industry. Recently, he had a client ask him about T1-11 as siding, and he shared his response with me. What he wrote was so well done, I felt compelled to share it. Here it is:
“I will share what I know of T1-11 along with a few opinions – hopefully in a way that you can tell the difference.
First… where I’m coming from.
I got a 4 year BS degree in Wood Products Engineering because of my interest in wood and woodworking. There I learned everything about wood from cellular structure, glues, structural engineering, and engineered products such as LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber), Glulam Beams and various types of plywoods, OSB and their manufacture and use.
T1-11 is what it is – a cost efficient sheathing and siding. You can count on one supplier’s T1-11 being pretty much the same as another because its construction and “grade” (quality) is third-party checked by an industry association: the APA (American Plywood Association).
The glues used in the construction are appropriate for its use as a siding, and the durability of the panel and ability to handle moisture has more to do with the quality of the lamelles – or veneers within the panels – than the specific glue used. The veneers used for T1-11 are appropriate.
The one big opinion I have gathered over the years about wood and various wood products is simply this: Wood belongs indoors.
The T1-11 will do a good job for you, but you will need to paint it and keep it painted. I’ve seen 200-year old white pine log fencing (not a durable specie) still in great shape at a historic Shaker Village in New Hampshire, but it has been repainted almost every year. Your T1-11 won’t have to be painted every year, but if properly maintained, it will last and last.
“If” is the problem, though. Everybody seems busier and busier these days, so the big downside of T1-11 is you are committing your time in the future. Cement siding will also require repainting, though it’s not as critical. “Vinyl is final” is a cute expression, but you will have to power wash from time to time to keep it looking good – and not everybody likes the look of vinyl siding.
As we discussed, steel is the best way to go in my opinion, but if not allowed, you have to settle for one of the second-best options.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself – and this came from someone with both the degree…and the experience with T1-11. My advice: choose carefully- it’s your building, but be sure you are looking down the road at maintenance. As I get older, how to keep something looking or functioning “like new” becomes more of my guide in purchasing than overall aesthetics of what it looks like “brand new”.