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The exterior of a building influences its overall aesthetics; this drives many homeowners to invest in various exterior home improvement projects. If you’re one of such homeowners, you may have heard about siding and cladding. These two are protective wall coverings that also accentuate the look of a building’s exterior. Though similar in some ways, these materials have some distinct differences. If you’re looking to use either of these two materials for your home in Portland, Oregon, you can seek expert advice from siding contractors like Lifetime Exteriors. Lifetime Exteriors serves all of Portland with high-quality, beautifully crafted siding, and they’ll expertly guide you into choosing a suitable one.

To help you in making your choice between siding and cladding, we’ve created this article. Here, we’ll go into detail regarding siding and cladding so you can decide what will work best for your home.


The definition of Exterior Siding and Cladding

Siding refers to the materials used to cover the external walls of a building. Exterior siding is primarily used to protect the outside of a building from the consistent damaging effects of weather elements. They also serve as a form of insulation, preventing the loss of heat and contributing to the maintenance of the temperature in the room. Sidings were traditionally made from wood and vinyl to create vertical board siding, horizontal siding, and more. However, materials like metal and fiber cement are now being used to make sidings.

Similar to siding, claddings are wall coverings that insulate and protect the wall against wind, rain, and other weather elements. Cladding also functions as wall decorations which enhances the visual appeal of the structure.


The Difference between Cladding and Siding

Mode of Application/ Installation

 (direct and indirect application)

Siding is typically installed directly onto the exterior walls of a building. The siding, whether panels or individual pieces, are attached directly to the wall surface using nails, screws, or other fasteners. As such, the siding acts solely as the insulation and the protective layer. Claddings, on the other hand, are installed indirectly. Instead of fastening cladding on the wall, there are furring strips installed on the exterior sheath before claddings are installed. The furring strips create a form of water-resistive barrier (WRB) and ventilated drainage plane. Indirect cladding creates a form gap that allows for ventilation and drainage, as such improving the overall function of the cladding.


Depending on the particular material chosen, siding and cladding materials might have varying degrees of durability. In general, siding and cladding materials are made to be strong and weatherproof. However, some cladding materials, like stone, brick, or metal panels, tend to be more robust and long-lasting compared to certain types of siding materials, such as vinyl or wood. Hence, make sure to consider the specific material’s durability and maintenance requirements when choosing between siding and cladding options.

Rainscreen System Capability

Rainscreen systems are designed to manage moisture and provide an additional layer of protection against water intrusion in buildings. While siding can be incorporated into a rain screen system, it typically requires additional modifications or the use of specialized siding products designed for this purpose. On the other hand, cladding systems, particularly indirect or rain-screen cladding, are inherently designed to incorporate these principles. The air gap or ventilated cavity between the cladding material and the building structure allows for better moisture management and reduces the risk of water damage.


What To Consider Before Choosing Between Siding and Cladding

History of the Building

Consider the building’s architectural design and historical significance. In a case where you own a building that has unique design elements, it’ll be best to choose a wall component that compliments the initial design. For instance, if the building was initially designed to have cladding, you should simply upgrade to modern cladding if you want to perform any exterior home improvement project. You should also keep in mind that some states frown on disrupting historical buildings’ components, but if you’ll have to do any improvement, you should stick to the old style to avoid sanctions.

Weather Conditions in Your Location

The climate and weather patterns in your region also play a significant role in your decision between cladding and siding. You can pick between siding and cladding if you reside in an area with harsh weather conditions or strong winds. However, you must pick those made of strong materials that can survive inclement weather. Cladding, on the other hand, might be more efficient in areas that experience greater humidity and rain; this is because cladding can offer better protection against moisture-related issues.

You should also consider your personal preference, cost, and budget before choosing your desired wall covering.