Dutch Lap vs. Traditional Siding – Which one is better when it comes to installation, cost or durability?

All of us that have ever undertaken a house refurbishment project will know, that the number of choices that need to be made during such a job can seem overwhelming. These can be particularly hard when it comes to the choice of exterior finish solutions, such as siding.

Dutch Lap vs traditional siding
Dutch Lap Siding on the left and traditional siding on the right

Not only is it arguably one of the most visible features of the house, but it also needs to be sturdy and durable to stand the test of time and weather. For those that don’t want to break the bank, cost and ease of installation might also be a major factor.

If you need help to make up your mind, you have come to the right place. Below you will find a short comparison between the two most popular siding styles, the Dutch lap siding vs. traditional clapboard. Read on for our comparison.

Dutch lap vs. Traditional Siding

What is the actual difference between Dutch lap siding and Clapboard siding? The defining difference is style. Clapboard, also called traditional, tends to be flat, either resembling or actually made from simple long boards fixed on top of each other with a back-angle. While simple, it has always remained the most traditional and common type of siding, as it was easier and cheaper to produce out of timber when compared to Dutch Lap.

Dutch lap , although mostly a vinyl siding in modern times, was also produced out of timber in the past. The style features a distinct shadow line running between each perceived plank. In the past, this was achieved by craftsmen, who’d cut a back angle at the top of each plank to achieve the notch, similar in look to Shiplap cladding.

In the mid-Atlantic region of the United States in the earlier days, it was realized that effective housing would be achieved by having the materials installed such that the planes overlapped. This idea was borrowed from the traditions of the Northern European areas in much earlier days. Dutch lap siding is also called German lap.

Although arguably more visually interesting than Clapboard, due to it’s more complex manufacturing process, it could usually only be found on the houses of the wealthy. Since not as common, it might be perceived by some as a more modern style.

Both styles of vinyl siding can come in a variety of finishes including wood effect and smooth, as well as in many different colors.

Durability and Strength


Thanks to modern materials and solutions, there isn’t a big difference in durability between the styles. Both Dutch lap and Clapboard sidings can be expected to have similar properties and manufacturers will usually provide a guarantee to go with their products.

However, there is a difference in durability depending on the actual material used. Although usually vinyl, both styles can still be achieved in timber. Although a traditional material, if properly maintained, wood siding can last for decades. However it is prone to rot and damp and if not maintained in a specialist way, it can fail rather quickly. On the other hand, although affected by extreme heat and cold, Vinyl can easily last for decades with minimal maintenance. Besides possible small replacements as time goes on, it can simply be maintained by cleaning with a simple garden hose.



As with durability, the cost of siding depends more on the material than the style. While there is no considerable price difference between vinyl Dutch lap and Clapboard, achieving the same effect in timber can cost over three times as much! If choosing vinyl, the cost may vary depending on the finish of the siding, including texture and color.

Ease of Installation


There is no real difference in ease of installation between vinyl Dutch lap and Clapboard siding. Both feature a fairly simple clip-on and finishing trim system. Timber sidings can be harder to install and may require more specialized siding tools to work. However, as a general principle, the most important thing to remember when fitting siding is to start off straight and level and consistently work up with the following elements, whether using vinyl or timber.

Siding installation process:

  1. Before fixing or replacing the sidings on the wall, measure them to ensure that they are all equal in terms of thickness and length. Invest in quality trim pieces as they hold the sidings in place, provide a small space where the sidings can expand and contract and also cover any cuts that may occur during installation.
  2. The siding pieces should overlap by about each to give room for expansion and contraction to help protect the sheathing on the inside. For the installation to look professional, the last boards must meet at the same level. This means that you must mark the level baseline of the house before the actual installation. The nailing should neither be too loose or tight.
  3. Strip off previously installed siding and ensure to leave a smooth and flat wall. You should place your siding evenly. It can also interfere with the siding’s performance. Ensure that you staple a good layer of house-wrap and work from bottom to top. Overlap the joints by several inches so that water can easily flow downwards. Metal flashing should be installed to make sure that water will not get inside.

Regardless of the different types of materials, the installation processes are the same. What’s important is to follow the manufacturers instructions. Most manufacturers propose that you should leave about a 1/8 of an inch gap between the sidings. This helps prevent water from flowing inside the building. If you are planning on painting the sidings, its best to paint them on both sides before installation. This helps prevent rotting and damage from insects on the backsides.



As discussed, in modern times, the actual material used has a bigger impact on your siding than the actual style. Dutch lap vs  Traditional siding  – it simply boils down to style preference.

My name is Donald and I am the main author of this little page. I love working around the houses during the day and writing articles about house improvement in the evening. If you have any questions, just ask in the comments! If you need professional siding services use the form.


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