In general there are four primary types of house cladding: polyvinyl, wood, stone, and fiber cement. Of these, stone and wood are usually the most traditional, in part because they are all natural. Old-fashioned and early architecture in many parts of the world relies heavily on these materials, though they aren’t always the most sustainable for the long term. Wood can rot, for instance, and stone and brickwork often fall away with time. Synthetic and pre-fabricated materials like polyvinyl and fiber-enriched cement often give the same general look with added durability and weather-resistance. Modern manufactured cladding comes in a range of colors and textures and in many cases is designed intentionally to resemble other, usually more expensive, materials. Homeowners and builders usually have a lot to choose from, and in most cases finding the perfect fit is a matter of research and close evaluation of the available options.
Understanding Cladding Generally
Cladding, also called “siding,” is primarily designed to help protect a home or building from outside elements, in particular rain and environmental moisture that can cause rot and mold within the interior structure. Not all houses have or need cladding, and a lot depends on the design and architectural concept. Homes made of stone or adobe don’t usually use this feature, for instance, nor do those built primarily of brick. Even in these cases, though, siding can provide an extra layer of protection and also tends to be aesthetically pleasing.
Design and overall look are often some of the biggest benefits of house cladding. Different colors, textures, and sizes can all impact the overall appearance of the structure, and can give it a more finished look. Many people choose premium sidings to offer much more than just protection; when done right, they can increase the value and appearance of even the simplest homes.
Vinyl siding is usually the most common option, if only because it is traditionally the least expensive to manufacture. It’s also very durable and is often one of the most effective options when it comes to resisting moisture. Most commercial vinyl cladding is made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or unplasticized polyvinyl chloride (UPVC) resins, which can come in a number of colors, textures, and thicknesses and are usually made to order.
Provided the initial installation is done properly, PVC and UPVC don’t require much in the way of upkeep. They don’t need to be repainted, and cleaning is usually pretty simple; most of the time, regular washing and dusting is all that’s required. Depending on the manufacturer, these often come with warranties guaranteeing their usefulness for long periods of time, often 25 years or more.
Wooden siding is often the most traditional option and can give a home an authentic craftsman look. A variety of different planks can be used, and they can be cut to fit most any space. The most popular choices typically fall in the pine and spruce families due to their general durability. Larch and cedar are also common, though they can be more expensive.
Wooden siding can be more challenging to maintain, as it typically requires regular staining and waterproofing to keep out moisture that can lead to rot and decay. If the home is painted the siding usually also needs to be painted as well, which can dramatically increase both the labor and supply costs of the project.
Siding Made of Stone and Brick
Natural stone cladding is also popular in many places. Stone panels are often used on rural or country homes, and can give a rustic feel to any exterior. This sort of paneling can be more expensive at the outset, but will usually increase the value of a house. Owners with more limited budgets can often cover just a small portion of the house, like a sun deck or garage, with stone, while opting for a coordinating siding of vinyl or wood elsewhere. The stone look can work on the interior as well. People often want this sort of cladding on an interior accent wall or in decorative trim throughout a home.
Another alternative is fiber cement siding. This is often designed to resemble either stone or wood, but is actually made of a composite cement mixture. As a result it generally has exceptional durability and a lot of versatility, too. Most of these are made to order, and can be very expensive depending on how they’re designed — but, in general, they’re made to last more or less forever, often with very little upkeep.
Making the Right Choice
Choosing the right house cladding is usually a matter of researching the available options and understanding the benefits and overall “look” of each. Cladding and installation companies can be found around the world, and each company usually features a variety of different construction materials, panel options, and architecture projects of specialty.