If you want to add cladding to the exterior of your house, there are several types and products to choose from. Cladding, or siding, can help improve the appearance of your home, protect it from the elements and provide an extra layer of insulation. Choosing the right cladding depends on your own personal taste, the type of house you live in and the typical style of the neighbourhood.
Wood cladding ranges from various species of solid wood to boards made from wood strands, fibres or veneers moulded together. Redwood and cedar siding, when sealed and painted, are both durable, with redwood being particularly resistant to rot. Seal or paint either of these cladding materials every three to seven years to maintain their durability.
Plywood panels are cheaper than hardwood and easier to install, but you must use corrosion-resistant fixings, and it is best to paint the surface to make plywood cladding more durable. Hardboard panels and oriented strand board have an outer skin impregnated with resin to provide a waterproof layer. Poorly fitted panels will soon rot if water gets between them.
Metal cladding is extremely durable and requires very little maintenance. Made from steel or aluminium, it is usually manufactured to look like wooden siding and has a factory coating. Steel cladding is tougher than aluminium, although it can be prone to rust if the coating is pierced or scratched, exposing the metal. Softer aluminium cladding can be more easily dented and may deform in hot weather if improperly fitted. In some areas, steel cladding is required to be grounded to reduce the risk of electric shock.
Plastic or vinyl cladding is durable and can be installed with an insulating backing, improving the energy efficiency of your home. Usually made to appear like wooden siding, plastic cladding can be smooth or textured, which can be trickier to clean. The vinyl type of cladding can become brittle in very cold weather, making it prone to damage from hailstones, so it may not be appropriate for areas with this type of climate.
Brick is very durable and requires virtually no maintenance. Many modern brick homes actually have timber skins that are clad with brickwork. Available in many different colours and styles, brick is the most expensive to install because of the skilled labour and time required to complete the job. Cement can also be used for cladding and is mixed with fibre to produce panels that can be slotted together. Fibre-reinforced cement panels can be made to look like wood and are extremely tough and durable.