Siding

Siding is the outer covering or cladding of a house meant to shed water and protect from the effects of weather.  Additionally, the siding on a building is a key element in the anesthetic beauty of the structure--a feature that directly impacts the property value.
 
Siding may be formed of horizontal boards or vertical boards (known as weatherboarding in many countries), shingles, or sheet materials.  In all four cases, avoiding wind and rain infiltration through the joints is a major challenge, met by overlapping, by covering or sealing the joint, or by creating an interlocking joint such as a tongue-and-groove or rabbet.  Since building materials expand and contract with changing temperature and humidity, it is not practical to make rigid joints between the siding elements.
 
Siding may be made of wood, metal, plastic(vinyl), masonry , or composite materials. It may be attached directly to the building structure (studs in the case of wood construction), or to an intermediate layer of horizontal planks called sheathing.
 
Wood Siding:
 
Wood siding in overlapping horizontal rows or "courses" is called clapboard. In colonial times, Eastern white pine was the most common material. Wood siding can also be made of naturally weather-resistant woods such as redwood or cedar. Jointed horizontal siding may be shiplapped.
 
Plywood sheet siding is sometimes used on inexpensive buildings, sometimes with grooves to imitate vertical shiplap siding. Wood shingles or irregular cedar "shake" siding was used in early New England construction, and was revived in Shingle Style and Queen Anne style architecture in the late 19th century.
 
Wood siding is very versatile in style and can be used on a wide variety of homes in any color palette desired.
 
Plastic/Vinyl Siding:
 
Wood clapboard is often imitated using vinyl siding or uPVC weatherboarding. It is usually produced in units twice as high as clapboard. Plastic imitations of wood shingle and wood shakes also exist. Vinyl or plastic siding has grown in popularity due to the generally low maintenance and low cost appeal it offers.
 
Since plastic siding is a manufactured product, it may come in limited color choices. Historically vinyl sidings would fade, crack and buckle over time, requiring the siding to be replaced. However, newer vinyl options have improved and resist damage and wear better. Vinyl siding is sensitive to direct heat from grills, barbecues or other sources. Unlike wood, vinyl siding does not provide additional insulation for the building, unless an insulation material (e.g. foam) has been added to the product.
 
An environmental benefit of vinyl siding is that its production does not require the consumption of certain natural resources that other types of siding would require, such as trees, aluminum, or stone. (It does, however, require petroleum.) An environmental cost of vinyl siding is that it is difficult to dispose of responsibly. It cannot be burned (due to toxic dioxin gases that would be released) and currently it is not recycled.