Saturday, August 11, 2007


A lot of people have been asking what the house will be sided with. The answer is 4x8 sheets of Medium Density Overlay, or MDO. MDO is essentially a 1/2" sheet of plywood with a layer of resin-impregnated paper glued to the top:
Once primed and painted it is completely water proof and serves as an excellent siding material. Not too long ago MDO was used by highway departments for road signs because of its durability, and builders today commonly use it both indoors and outdoors for trim and soffits.

So, why did we choose this un-traditional siding? Because for one, our house is un-traditional - or, more to the point - modern in design. MDO allows us to create a very smooth "skin" in which to wrap the house that enhances its simple, clean lines and the basic geometry. This is a fundamental tenet of modern architectural design. You can the effect in this rendering of Noah's: ©Jasonoah Design Build

The look we are trying to recreate is summed up in the images below of a house designed by the St. Paul-based architectural firm Alchemy Architects:
(Click on the images for enlargements. You will see the details better if you do.)
Notice how the panels (these are a product known as Parklex) create a tight "skin" around the building that emphasizes its geometric simplicity. Also notice how the way the panels come right up flush with the windows does the same. This is precisely the look we are going for. When I researched the Parklex product (an engineered wood panel) I found out that they were depressingly expensive (almost $400 per panel!!!) So, I began to research alternatives...which landed me with MDO. Here are some images of MDO in use, from one of the blogs I read on a near daily basis (Austin ModHouse):

Since MDO is essentially a plywood, and plywood + moisture = disaster (i.e. delamination, warping, bending, etc.) the KEY with MDO in exterior applications is priming the edges prior to installation. Two coats of top quality primer are recommended. Here I go:Priming the edges while the sheets are still stacked makes the job a heckuva lot easier...
Construction fueled by DD!
Once the edges are primed, here is how the process will go:
1. Workers cut MDO sheets to size
2. I come in and re-prime the fresh cuts while
3. the workers keep sizing and cutting MDO and
4. I keep priming freshly cut edges
5. Once pieces have dried, they are installed
6. Once a day's worth of MDO has been installed, I move in to prime the faces of the panels.
7. Repeat until entire house is sheathed and primed.

More photos to come.


Tim said...


Excellent! The painting has begun. How did the MDO look after the rain? What brand of paint did you decide on? Can you share the color with us?

I can't wait to see her with the siding on.


Windows, Siding, Roofing and more... said...

Resin is commonly used as siding material. Beside that, many developers and builders are using impregnated paper these days.

NYC siding