Rain-screen wall assemblies seem like a good idea for protecting wood siding and paint, but they can create headaches when it comes to resolving door, window, and other trim details. Wider gaps mean that doors and windows would need jamb extensions, as well as screening to keep bugs out. But would a 1/4-inch or 1/8-inch gap — which might not require any additional detailing, or even screening — be equally effective?

Battens can be ripped from decay-resistant wood, but I've had good luck using battens cut from 4-foot-by-8-foot sheets of 6-mm-thick (1/4-inch-thick) Coroplast (800-361-5150, www.coroplast.com), a corrugated plastic that won't absorb moisture and is sold at most sign shops for about $50 per sheet. For more ventilation and drying capacity, I use...

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