What Is Dutch Lap Siding?

By Amanda Lutz Updated May 16, 2024

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Dutch lap siding is a common type of horizontal siding used on homes and buildings in a variety of environments. Sometimes called drop siding, it’s recognizable by the distinctive shape of the planks—they have a slightly concave surface and an overlapping profile. The overlapping panels create a notable shadow line and offer additional insulative properties. 

Dutch lap siding is a variant of clapboard siding and has been a popular exterior covering for homes since the late 1800s. When Dutch settlers established homes in the United States, they recognized the need for a siding material that would withstand harsh weather conditions. This new siding style featured sloped boards that reduced the accumulation of rainwater and, in turn, decreased mold growth and rotting. However, it was its attractive appearance that made Dutch lap siding desirable. At the time, siding was made from wood, and the notches were hand-carved. As a result, the siding was more expensive to make. This prestige, along with a more decorative look than traditional clapboard, made it popular among homeowners. 

Today, homeowners interested in horizontal siding can purchase Dutch lap siding in a wide range of materials and colors. In this guide, we’ll discuss Dutch lap siding’s features, installation process and costs, and how it compares to other siding types.

Key Features of Dutch Lap Siding

At first glance, you may not recognize the differences between Dutch lap siding and traditional clapboard siding. Both siding types feature clean lines and a neat appearance. However, the concave face and notched overlap of Dutch lap siding add a subtle dimensional elegance to any home exterior. The beveled top half of the board makes the bottom half stand out, creating a shadow over the course below. 

While the sloped boards create a pleasing aesthetic, the design is also functional. Since Dutch lap siding is less likely to accumulate rainwater and snow, it stands out as one of the most durable types of siding. The subtle dimensions of Dutch lap siding make it compatible with multiple architecture types and ideal for use with other decorative elements. Its timeless appeal and durability make it a popular choice for exterior siding in a variety of materials.

Materials Used in Dutch Lap Siding

When Dutch lap siding originated, exterior siding was typically made of hardwoods, like oak and cypress. Today, manufacturing plants usually use machines to develop siding, making it easy for homeowners to find Dutch lap siding in a variety of materials. Some of the most common materials used in Dutch lap siding include aluminum, vinyl, and wood. 

Aluminum Dutch Lap Siding

Metal siding was once a popular alternative to wood because it didn’t rot. Aluminum Dutch lap siding is lightweight, and you can paint it in practically any color to create the exterior appearance you seek. It typically features a smooth surface and is easy to clean.

However, aluminum siding does come with drawbacks. While it doesn’t rot or warp, it is prone to rust in wetter climates. It also provides less insulation than other types of siding and is more susceptible to dents on impact.

Vinyl Dutch Lap Siding

Made from PVC, Dutch lap vinyl siding is highly weather- and insect-resistant. It’s available in a wide range of colors, and you can find it with either a smooth surface or a textured surface to mimic the appearance of wood. It is easy to maintain, never requires painting, and is affordable.

As one of the most modern types of exterior house siding, vinyl doesn’t have many drawbacks. However, it doesn’t have the same insulation capabilities as wood or fiber cement.

Wood Dutch Lap Siding

If you’re seeking a classic look that honors the traditions of original Dutch lap siding, then wood is still an option. Dutch lap siding is available in a variety of wood species, including pine, redwood, and cedar—all of which can help achieve a natural and timeless appearance. Wood has natural insulative properties, and you can easily paint or stain it to get the look you want. Although wood offers many benefits, it’s essential to consider the commitments that come with wood siding before you decide to use it. Wood is more expensive than most types of siding and requires extra upkeep. You will need to conduct frequent inspections to avoid mold and rot, and you’ll have to refinish or paint it regularly. Wood is also a poor choice for fire-prone areas as it’s less fire-resistant than other siding types.

Installing Dutch Lap Siding

The installation of Dutch lap siding requires you to cover the exterior of your home with planks or panels. No matter what type of materials you choose, this is an extensive process that requires substantial physical labor. As such, it can be useful to hire professional contractors to install siding for you. However, if you have the knowledge and physical capability, you may be able to complete the job on your own.

This installation guide will help you clearly understand the tools you’ll need and the steps you’ll need to follow to install Dutch lap siding. 

Tools and Materials

Installation Process

You would typically complete a DIY siding installation with vinyl siding, as installing wood or aluminum siding requires additional tools and experience. These steps outline the installation process for vinyl Dutch lap siding. 

  1. Prepare your home’s surface: Correct installation of vinyl requires a smooth, clean base. To prepare your home, you’ll need to remove existing siding—or cover it with foam board—and repair any damaged surfaces. Before beginning the installation process, remove obstacles like address plates, porch lights, handrails, etc. 
  2. Create a level first row: You will need to apply siding from the bottom up. To put the first row in place, you’ll need a straight line to follow. Mark the height where you’ll put your starter strip. Then, measure every 10 to 15 feet to place corresponding marks at the same height. Use your chalk line to create a continuous line for your starter row. Nail a half-inch-thick board above the line, and nail your starter strip to the board. 
  3. Overlap ascending rows: Vinyl Dutch lap siding is designed to snap in place. Starting at the end of the starter strip, snap a length of siding in place. Place nails in the nailing strip at the top at 16-inch intervals. When joining the next length of siding, ensure that the two panels overlap by about an inch. 
  4. Address obstacles along the way: Windows, doors, and other openings require special steps to lock siding lengths in place. Cut a trim channel to the length of a windowsill and nail it into place. Cut a channel for the sides and top, and nail them into place. With the trim in place, snap siding pieces into the channels as you continue to install siding pieces. 
  5. Apply trim: Once the siding is in place, you’ll need to cover any rough edges with trim. Apply J-channel trim beneath the soffits to snap the top pieces of siding in place, and install corner trim per manufacturer instructions. 

Cost of Dutch Lap Siding

When it was originally created, Dutch lap siding was expensive because it required craftsmen to carve each plank by hand. Today, manufacturing plants typically produce Dutch lap siding. As a result, the materials, roof size, and installation process have the most impact on the cost. 

The cost of Dutch lap siding ranges from $4,000 to over $50,000. The average cost for vinyl siding installation is $11,471, and the average cost for wood siding installation is $12,500. 

The following factors all have an impact on the cost of Dutch lap siding: 

How Dutch Lap Siding Compares to Other Siding Options

Dutch lap siding is a popular choice for creating a striking home exterior. However, it’s a good idea to compare it with other options before making your final choice. Consider how these popular siding choices compare to Dutch lap siding.

Barn Siding

Created from reclaimed wood, barn siding is typically used on homes to add a rustic appearance. It is typically installed vertically and can be painted in a variety of colors. Barn siding adds a warm, inviting feeling to all types of decor and is entirely unique since it’s recycled. 

While barn siding has many attractive qualities, it’s not a practical choice if you’re looking for something budget-friendly and easy to maintain. Wood requires extra maintenance to protect it from the weather. The installation is also complex since you must carefully remove the wood from another structure and nail each plank into place.

Clapboard Siding

Very similar to Dutch lap siding in design, clapboard siding has many of the same advantages. It can be made of the same materials and colors and even follows an almost identical installation process. However, a subtle difference in appearance may inspire you to choose one style over the other. 

The concave shape of Dutch lap siding creates a notable shadow line between planks, creating a more textured appearance. While the horizontal lines of clapboard siding are distinctly noticeable, they have a flatter appearance, creating a home exterior with clean lines and minimal texture. 

Shingle Siding

Common in cottage-style homes, shingle siding provides a rustic look. Although it’s often made of wood, shingles can be made of other materials, such as vinyl and fiber cement. Traditional shingle siding is made of small rectangular panels placed side by side in even horizontal lines. The finished effect creates a home exterior with substantial depth and a charming appearance. 

Shingle siding drifts far from the neat lines created by Dutch lap siding and may not be as adaptable for a variety of home styles. If you go for a traditional aesthetic with real wood, you can expect extra maintenance and concerns about rot and insects. While vinyl options offer substantially more durability than wood shingles, the installation process may be more complex than for other vinyl siding types. Additionally, the textured surface of shingle siding makes it harder to clean. 

Vertical Siding

Vertical siding is created by installing planks in a top-to-bottom vertical position. This style can make buildings appear taller and more modern. Vertical siding is a standout option because it’s fairly new for residential homes. Depending on your choice of material, vertical siding is likely to require less maintenance than Dutch lap siding because water streams easily down the vertical planks. 

Even while the modern appeal of vertical siding is the main reason for its popularity, it makes installation difficult. Vertical siding requires furring strips for installation, adding another step to the process. This adds to the cost of your project due to the increased time requirement. It’s also worth noting that not all homebuyers are drawn to newer styles, which could make your home harder to sell in the future. 

Applications of Dutch Lap Siding

You can use Dutch lap siding on various structures to create an attractive and durable building exterior. The style is compatible with different architecture types and comes in a variety of colors. Some of the most common applications of Dutch lap siding include:

Our Recommendation

Dutch lap siding is a popular exterior siding choice for homes and buildings because it creates an attractive dimensional look. Although traditional wood siding requires substantial maintenance and can lack weather resistance, vinyl Dutch lap siding is an extremely durable, popular alternative. When deciding whether to install Dutch lap siding, consider how it will meet your needs and how it compares to comparable solutions. 

Dutch Lap Siding FAQ

What is the difference between Dutch lap and traditional siding?

The biggest difference between Dutch lap and traditional siding (or clapboard siding) is its appearance. The horizontal planks that make up Dutch lap siding are sloped to create a dimensional appearance, while those of traditional clapboard siding are completely flat.

What are the pros and cons of Dutch lap siding?

The pros of Dutch lap siding include an elegant appearance and durable surface, but there are cons as well. Dutch lap siding made from real wood can require extensive maintenance to avoid weather and insect damage.

Can Dutch lap siding be installed over existing siding?

In some cases, you can install Dutch lap siding over existing siding. If your siding has no rot, damage, or moisture, you can cover it with a flat surface before installing new siding.

What are the maintenance tips for Dutch lap siding?

Maintenance tips for Dutch lap siding depend on the type of material you’ve chosen. Wood siding requires routine inspections and occasional painting and sealing. Aluminum siding requires cleaning, and you may need to repaint it from time to time. Vinyl siding only requires occasional cleaning with mild soap.

What’s the best material for Dutch lap siding?

The best material for Dutch lap siding depends on your preferences and your budget. You can only get the rustic appearance of traditional Dutch lap siding with wood. However, vinyl siding is less costly and requires minimal maintenance.