In 2006 I was in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, for a planning event. On display downtown at the time was the prototype Katrina Cottage and a number of us spent one evening there conducting a spontaneous test of its ability to host a party. At some point, I ended up on the porch with a prominent new urban architect and, noting the cottage’s smooth Hardiplank siding, asked him, “Why do you think people always seem to choose the Hardiplank with faux woodgrain when the smooth is so much more natural and attractive looking?”
His response: “I don’t know. Vulgarity?”
There is a certain irony to the whole thing. In an effort to appear more wood-like, the false grain — to my eye — actually makes it appear less so. Natural wood emerges from the mill smooth as a baby’s bum so it’s always confounded me as to why, for a lot of people, Hardie’s fabricated woodgrain seems to be the preferred choice.
Is the idea that it makes a house look more weathered, as though it’s been scraped and painted many times over the years? Is it that people won’t accept a new building material unless it goes overboard imitating an accepted one?
I honestly don’t know. But I do know that the smooth version offers superior aesthetics so let’s settle the matter once and for all.
What do you think?
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