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Tulip Poplar bark siding is about as rustic as it gets in the building material world. This was the first time I had seen Yellow Poplar bark shingles/shakes in use and we saw it while on our little excursion a couple of weeks ago on the home garden tour we attended recently.
The fully landscaped 10-acre estate on the tour featured a fully equipped outdoor kitchen, fireplace, picnic tables (dining area) and…(drumroll please) an outhouse clad in Tulip Poplar bark siding. Now that’s rustic outdoor living at its’ finest!
All of these facilties are a fair distance from the home so it’s understandable why there would be an outhouse out yonder way. I’m 100% certain that this was not a traditional "hole in the ground" type of outhouse. I’m sure that it’s on the city sewer line. But you know what…I like the idea of having a little fun with it by keeping with the rustic theme of the outdoor kitchen decor.
The real story here, though, is not the outhouse. No sir…it’s the Tulip Poplar bark siding used to cover the vertical surfaces of the outhouse. By the way, they had bark siding on the interior walls of the pavilion-style outdoor kitchen (does that make any sense?). It looks great in that setting, people. If you’re reading this, Mr. Williams…please contact me for a return invitation for a more in-depth photo shoot. You can see the indoor/outdoor kitchen in the photo below on the left (Hi Sandy!).
Yellow Poplar trees, also known as Tulip Poplar, are the tree of choice for this unusual, but very durable product. In fact, if properly processed, the siding should last upwards of 75 years. Here’s a factoid for ya…Tulip Poplars were harvested by early American settlers for the purpose of making canoes. They would hollow out the soft wood of the tree to form a canoe.
How Do They Harvest the Bark?
I don’t know how many companies sell bark siding but Timberclad is one of the merchants that does so I’ll assume that most, if not all, merchants use a similar method of harvesting and processing. Timberclad’s bark is hand-peeled and cut on-site from logged Tulip Poplar trees in the Appalachian Mountains during a limited season each year. It’s then carried and placed on slats and stacked flat. This prevents the bark from being damaged or getting ‘muddied’. It’s then kiln-dried at a minimum temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit until the moisture content reaches 8 – 12%. The kiln drying "naturally destroys all insects, eggs, larvae and fungi without the use of chemicals."
There Is A Green ‘Angle’ To This Post Somewhere
Oh yeah. The green ‘angle’ is that the bark is harvested and used in this unique method, whereas, it would normally be discarded or ground up for mulch. Every bit of each tree is used. No waste. Their bark cladding is also processed using no chemicals. That’s gooooood! Timberclad happens to be a card carrying member of the Western North Carolina Green Building Council so it’s a company with a green conscience.
Bark Siding Is Appealing
I don’t know how you feel about a rustic look, but I think if you’re going to use it, this is a top notch product for rustic looks and for the sheer practicality of its’ purpose…to protect against the elements. Think about it. Bark is Mother Nature’s weatherproofing shield for trees. Without it, a tree dies.
Timberclad suggests using it as an accent in the gable area of your home to really boost the rustic charm of your home…or go all out and clad your entire home with bark siding. Visit their website for some great photos of bark siding in use on an entire house.
Would I ever use it? I sure would in the proper application and setting.
Timberclad Poplar Bark Siding has even more info on how it’s harvested and it’s history. You can order it from them, too.
I started as a home-stalker… visiting brand new homes under construction in the neighborhoods near my house. That inspired me to write about home building and home renovation projects — chronicling homes during different phases of construction from a consumer's point-of-view. Basically, the tips you'll find in my articles are a collection of checklists for what I think should (and should not) go into building or remodeling a quality home.