Exterior Finishes: Your Log Home’s First Impression

One attribute that defines mountain-style homes is the variety of exterior finishes used, and combined, which give a high-country look. The visual interest created by a mix of natural materials – and sometimes a little steel or copper, for a shiny “pop” – gives these homes character. It is often what first calls our attention to a mountain-style home. However, if you are not familiar with the available options, achieving that look for your own log or timber home is daunting.

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Vertical and Horizontal Siding

Two exterior treatments often used to great effect on mountain-style homes, from Appalachian rustic to eco-contemporary, are board-and-batten and skirl.

Board-and-batten siding uses two sizes of wood. The wider planks – the boards – are applied vertically, while the narrower pieces – the battens – are applied over the gaps where the boards meet. As you can see by the photo, battens can vary in width. The wider batten is on the left, while the thinner batten is on the right. The crisp lines of board-and-batten give it a clean look that also harkens back to 19th-century buildings.

Skirl is a type of lap siding, the exposed edge of which is “wavy,” giving it a hand-cut look. Applied horizontally, the undulating edges of skirl offer textural interest and a rustic motif. Sometimes used together, board-and-batten and skirl, with their vertical and horizontal lines, lead the eye to the next interesting texture or definitive detail. Often left natural, both treatments are also attractive when stained.

Shake Shingles

Shaker shingles or “shake” is another wood product that gives character to both walls and roofs. Shake, often associated with eastern North America, has been in use since Colonial times. They are a good choice if you aspire to an Adirondack lodge look. Applied in rows with each one overlapping the last, shake creates a subtle effect and is a nice contrast to the long lines of siding.


Stone evokes the ruggedness and permanence associated with a mountain style home. Today, stone veneer is often selected over natural stone. Stone veneer offers the same look without adding weight to the building or dollars to the bottom line. Some veneers are natural stone. Concrete cast in detailed rubber molds made from actual stone is the other type of veneer. Because of the intricacy of the molds and the iron oxides used to color the concrete, the man-made stone products are often indistinguishable from natural stone. Man-made stone is far lighter than whole stones so direct application to the wall is possible. Real stone may require a supporting foundation. Faux stone is also used for walkways and patios.


Metal roofing offers another dimension to mountain homes. Using copper on entry gables or corrugated steel on porch overhangs, for example, creates a nice contrast to the high texture of wood and stone.

Exterior finishes are the first thing that people see when approaching your home. They create the difference between an average house or one travelers stop to “Oooo” and “Ahh” over.

Consider how you want your home’s exterior to look early in the process. Then, chose an architect experienced in mountain-style homes and the harmonious mixing of these exterior finishes. After all, shouldn’t the outside of your home be as compelling as the inside?

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