Find out about the different types of home exteriors including brick, vinyl and wood siding.
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Siding is often found on most newer houses, forming the outer layer of a wood cavity wall. Some homes are partially covered in siding for decorative effect — boards can be placed horizontally or vertically — but siding also performs a vital weatherproofing function. Boards may be wooden, but synthetic options such as fiber cement board, vinyl, and aluminum are also available. These need less maintenance than wood, and some can be painted. Metal-based boards are usually attached to the house with special clips and channels, bought with the boards.
Siding should be applied on top of either building paper (a moisture barrier) or a breather membrane (which stops water from entering a wall, but allows vapor within the wall to escape). If you have a block house you may need a series of furring strips over the paper or membrane, to provide anchor points for the nails or screws to attach the siding.
Using Furring Strips
Horizontal siding goes onto vertical furring strips, which provide a cavity for drainage channels between boards and wall. To maintain channels behind vertical siding, which attaches to horizontal furring strips, fit vertical furring strips first. Chamfering the top edges of the horizontal furring strips directs water away from the wall. If untreated, furring strips must end 6 inches above the ground, so that siding does not touch damp soil. Use treated softwood measuring 1 x 2 inches. Some manufacturers will produce siding systems that incorporate an insulation layer between siding and the wall. Ask for professional advice, because it is important to use the correct insulation and vapor barrier to avoid problems with condensation.
Typically siding is installed from bottom to top, nailed to plywood sheathing through a building paper. Each product has its benefits and special installation instructions. These can include tools and techniques for making installation easier, and some require air spaces or nailing strips. Examples include, feather-edge boards with breather paper and vertical furring strips (image 1); tongue-and-groove boards with plyboard sheathing and breather paper (image 2); shiplap boards (image 3); and shingles with vertical furring strips beneath horizontal strips (image 4).
Vinyl siding (image 1); brick (image 2); fiber-cement siding with plyboard sheathing behind breather paper and vertical furring strips (image 3); and tiles with horizontal furring strips (image 4).
Consider green alternatives when choosing cladding for your external walls. Try using reclaimed wood, for example, or make sure that any new lumber you use comes from a sustainable source.
Aluminum cladding produced from recycled aluminum rather than a virgin source is another viable option. For clay tiles, visit a reclamation yard, as reuse is the most eco-friendly option and may save you money. While cement board is not the greenest option, if you are determined to use it, find manufacturers that use high quantities of recycled material.