Dwell Home Venice: Part 17
By Michael Sylvester / Published by Dwell

The wood siding of the house is a knotty grade of Western Red Cedar which has been ebony stained twice on both sides.

A close-up of the knotty grade cedar waiting to be installed.

A cross-section showing how the cedar is milled. The top and bottom of each board slopes down and away from the building paper. In the event any water enters between two boards it will wick away from the wall.

A drawing from Sebastian Mariscal Studio shows the siding detail at outside corners.

A mock-up model of the siding was created early in the process. This was useful for understanding design details and installation methods. The mock-up shows the black building paper and a detail of an outside corner joint. The image shows bronze screws but we changed to galvanized deck screws for budget reasons.

These galvanized deck screws hold the siding tight onto the sheer wall. Over 48,000 screws were used in the project.

A section of siding completed in the bedroom courtyard.

A corner detail outside the den/office. The red lines on the black paper are snapped chalk lines marking where the screw lines should be.

In this image the middle worker is using a jig to drill a screw hole exactly aligned with a red chalk-snapped vertical line marked on the black paper. The use of a jig with pre-drilled holes is critical to ensuring that the screws stay lined up vertically.

The pieces of blue tape on the walls display elevation marks which have been established by laser. This ensures the siding does not slowly creep up or down hill as the workers move across a wall. As the siding wraps around a volume, the last board must arrive at the same elevation as the first board.

The top of the walls receive a piece of cedar acting as coping or top cap.

The pine needle courtyard with the siding complete.

The volumes of the house become more sharply defined as the siding is completed.

Pre-stained cedar is stacked at the job site waiting for installation. The cedar was left for on-site for eight weeks to acclimatize. Cedar siding swells or shrinks when it gains or loses moisture while it reaches equilibrium with the content of the surrounding air. Ensuring the cedar is acclimatized before it is installed will minimize movement later on.


Michael Sylvester


Michael Sylvester is a writer who lives in both Los Angeles and an aisle seat, preferably in the exit row. On his pilgrimage to Dan Rockhill's Studio 804 in Lawrence, Kansas, to see its fabled prefab projects, he was feeling a bit self conscious being a Left Coast vegetarian in steak country. "In addition to their cool prefabs, there was a great vegan restaurant downtown. Who doesn't enjoy mixing good architecture with good food?" he says.

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