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Different Types of Exterior Siding and Cladding (page 1 of 2)

Find out about the different types of home exteriors including brick, vinyl and wood siding.

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Sometimes an exterior wall's structure provides the decorative finish, but most require extra material for decorative or weatherproofing purposes. For example, a brick or stone wall provides structure and finish, but a wood frame or block wall needs to be stuccoed or covered in siding. For most homeowners, the systems and techniques for these coverings become relevant only when they are faced with repairs. You will need to understand how these coverings are created if you want to match them on an extension, or if you wish to refurbish an entire section.

Things to Consider

Regulations and Permissions
The rules covering exterior alterations vary from area to area, and according to whether the building is in a historic district. Before your plans advance too far, check with your local authorities and homeowner's association as to whether you need permission. It may also be necessary to get permission to use certain paint colors.

Choosing the right exterior cladding material depends on your climate, personal preference, and budget. Follow all manufacturer's guidelines and local codes to ensure the material you choose performs well over time. One part of this is choosing the correct fasteners for the material and your weather conditions. Most often, you will need to use rust-resistant nails for exterior work.


This can be applied directly to blocks or bricks, or onto metal laths (sheets of wire mesh that help adhesion) to provide a decorative, weatherproofing coat that protects a wall's structure. There are several finishing options, including smooth stucco, the smoothest of stucco finishes with some slight texture (image 1); Patterned stucco, a smooth stucco that can be tooled to produce various patterns (image 2); Rough, a uniform rough finish that is applied over smooth stucco (image 3); and Pebbledash, which is achieved by throwing pebbles onto damp stucco (image 4).


Some topcoats have extra features, such as enhanced water-proofing properties, or suitability for finishing with outside-quality paint. Investigate your options with your builder or supplier, who will also be able to advise you on the quantities needed, and any waterproofing measures that may be necessary.

Planning to Stucco
Stuccoing large walls is not a job for an amateur—advanced plastering skills are required, as is experience in achieving the chosen finish. Unless you are very experienced, hire somebody to do the work for you. It may need several coats—usually an initial scratch coat followed by one or more further layers of stucco. Avoid application at times of extreme weather conditions, which can seriously affect the way stucco adheres, and may therefore reduce its life span. For those less experienced at DIY or the novice who wants the look of stucco, EIFS is an option. Made in panels, EIFS is similar to finished stucco and easier to install but requires careful flashing, so you will need professional help even for this option.

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