Exotic Hardwood Siding in Residential and Commercial Projects

The last several decades have seen a boom in the use of exotic hardwoods for siding in residential and commercial projects. Contractors, architects, and homeowners see the value in the investment of a long lasting hardwood. Their durability far surpasses that of a softer wood or vinyl, which are easily dented or attacked by pests. Exotic hardwood siding is so durable that once an element is up, it’s there to stay.

One such example is Countryside Montessori School in Northbrook, Illinois. Montessori schools have a unique educational philosophy and many of these philosophical tenets are confirmed in the look of the physical space. Countryside Montessori School values high quality, beautiful materials inside and out. They also foster a calm and peaceful environment, albeit one full of inspiration and passion.

These values are evident in the school’s building, with its beautiful Tigerwood siding.

The school is nestled into a wooded and lushly landscaped site. The building’s architects chose a variety of natural materials for the structure, from earth-red bricks to sleek stone to dark-hued Cedar beams and of course, the impressive multi-hued Tigerwood shiplap siding. Chosen for its strength, durability, and aesthetics, Tigerwood is known for its signature orange, red, and brown streaking, which grows darker in color over time, as it’s exposed to UV rays. Tigerwood is stronger than softwoods like Cedar or Pine, and has a lifespan of above 20 years. Thanks to this refined and welcoming building, the peaceful learning environment begins before students even walk in the door.

Residential projects have also seen an increase in the use of exotic hardwoods as siding. A stunning example of this comes from a private home in Wisconsin near Lake Michigan. Built in 2015, this contemporary home features a rain screen made from Ipe, an exotic, Brazilian hardwood. A rain screen is a system of slats slightly offset from a building, which allows for maximum airflow while giving the building depth and visual interest.

This particular home, in its lakeside setting, required a wood species that could withstand the marine conditions and the massive snowfall of the area, making Ipe an ideal choice. Ipe boasts over 30-year life expectancy, and is naturally pest- and rot-resistant. For this home, it was an easy choice. The richness and luster of the Ipe is perfectly highlighted against the green tones of the grassy and wooded lot, and the sleekness of the lumber enhances the clean, modern lines of the home.


Finally, the Black Ensemble Theater in Chicago, Illinois, updated its building in 2012 by adding an Ipe facade to its first permanent home. The internationally renowned Black Ensemble Theater was founded in 1976 and has become such a cultural institution that it’s supported by the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois. Combined with modern glass and concrete construction, the Ipe siding adds warmth and texture that would otherwise be lacking. The theater is an innovator in the arts community, and it needed a building that would reflect its innovation. Ipe was again chosen for this project for its beauty, strength, and durability. The Black Ensemble Theater chose to invest in a design element that both lasts for decades and suits the ethos of the theater company.

With these impressive and attractive examples it’s easy to understand the increase in exotic hardwood siding for residential and commercial applications, and when each species’ properties are taken into account, the appeal of these hardwoods is obvious.