Ten Exterior Cladding Options for Your Home

While many homeowners know about popular exterior options for their home such as paint or vinyl siding, few are aware of the many materials available to cover the outside of your home. As an architect, I’m always surprised at how many new materials are developed each year. In this article I include 10 of the most popular options and basic facts about the material.

Clapboard Siding

Wood clapboard siding is a traditional option for many homes. Often considered the mark of an expensive home, clapboard requires regular upkeep to maintain its appearance. Despite the popularity of clapboard imitations, careful care can keep clapboard looking new and sound far longer than modern alternatives. If you are concerned about peeling paint, clapboard can also be stained.


Mostly made of cedar, shingles, often called shakes, are an excellent option for finishing the exterior of many homes. Most shakes are stained instead of painted, preventing the peeling often associated with paint. The muted colors often encourage the house to blend in with the surrounding environment and can add a natural look to any home.

Engineered Wood

Plywood, oriented strand board and hardboard are common engineered wood products. Engineered wood is inexpensive and is can have a wide variety of appearances. If you are looking for a substitute for wood clapboard, this can often provide the most convincing imitation. Engineered wood is also easy to install.


Stone is one of the most durable exterior siding options. However, the price of stone is prohibitively expensive for most homeowners and it is difficult to retrofit a home with a stone exterior. If you like the look of stone but cannot afford it, stone veneers are a good option for most homeowners. They appear to be real stone, but are very thin and can be applied to the exterior of your home. Many architects use them as accents in addition to another exterior siding.


Bricks come in a multitude of sizes and colors, and though expensive is often justified because of its durability. Very little exterior upkeep is required for brick, and brick can be used effectively in both modern and traditional designs. Brick veneer is an increasingly popular option for those interested in the appearance of brick but not the cost. However, brick veneer does not have the strength of a solid brick.

Fiber cement siding

Cement fiber siding is a material that is molded to look like other things. It often appears to be brick, wood, or even stucco. Many people consider this option if they like the appearance of wood but not the upkeep. Most cement fiber sidings come with long warranties and are fireproof and termite-resistant.


Stucco as an cladding option has been popular for centuries. Its appearance varies greatly depending on how it is finished. Although traditional stucco is strong and resists moisture, stucco imitations may not offer the same benefits.

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is popular because it is inexpensive and does not rot or require paint. However, despite its popularity, there are several drawbacks to having the material installed on your home. Vinyl fades and cracks over time and requires at least a yearly washing. Many environmental groups are also concerned about the implications of widespread use of the material, which can off gas toxic fumes in a fire and does not decompose.

Seamless Steel

Seamless steel siding is an expensive option for many homes, but is strong and resists warping. Custom cut to fit your home, it is available in a wide variety of finishes. For traditional homes, wood texture is a popular option, while more contemporary homes may choose a finish that telegraphs a more modern look.


Aluminum siding has been increasingly viewed as old fashioned, but many builders prefer it to vinyl siding. It will fade and dent, but it won’t crack like vinyl siding. Also, it does not have the affect that vinyl siding has on the environment and can be recycled.

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