Cladding, or siding, is a covering of the external envelope of a structure with another material, such as wood, metal or glass. It serves a number of purposes, from improving the aesthetic quality of the building to protecting the underlying structure from moisture and wind damage. There are a number of different materials that can be used for cladding, each with its own qualities.
There are a number of species of wood that are commonly used for cladding, such as Scots pine, spruce and red cedar. As well as providing an attractive natural finish, timber cladding is environmentally friendly and naturally resistant to wind and moisture.
Vinyl siding is made from rows of PVC panels, and is very popular in North America due to its wide range of colours and high levels of durability. It is also easy to maintain, only needing to be washed when required. However, the process used to manufacture vinyl siding requires a lot of energy, and as a result this form of cladding is not deemed to be environmentally friendly.
Brick or stone cladding is very expensive, but will last for decades once installed and does not require regular maintenance. Stone cladding is available in a number of forms, such as granite, marble and limestone, and forms a cavity between the structure and the cladding when installed. This allows rainwater to drain away from the building, avoiding moisture absorption by the building itself, which could lead to rot.
Metal siding has a number of advantages. It is durable and highly resistant to weather, fire and changes in temperature. It is available in a number of forms, such as corrugated or smooth, and does not require regular maintenance. It is, however, an unattractive finish, which is why it is commonly used on industrial buildings. It is also expensive to install; however, it will last for years if well looked-after.