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I'm no siding guru (by any stretch of the imagination).

Looking to potentially do a board and batten job. My plan would be using Hardiboard 4x8 sheets, then make the trim and battens using cedar I would rip down.

After reading about it, I've found this other stuff called Smartside for half the money of the Hardiboard. I decided to check reviews on the Smartside and I'm reading that both the Hardiboard and the Smartside rot and mold from the inside out.

What's the best material to use for the board portion of board/batten siding??

This is a reside, the house is currently aluminum siding and was built about 1975.
 

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I haven't had any problem with SmartSide or Hardi getting moldy at all, unless perhaps there was an underlying problem such as a water leak, edges not sealed or flashed, not caulked, vapor barrier issues, etc. I like the SmartSide, and have used it almost exclusively for some years, with no problems. I think it's got a 40 year warranty, but I'm not for sure off the top of my head.
 

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Have not seen any Hardi products rot or mold & I live in an area that gets 80-100" of rain per year. Even with no rain fall most mornings are quite wet around here. On the ocean.

Use the Hardi Panel & the full 1" Hardi trim for batts. Looks great and you will not have to deal with two types of material at paint.
 
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