Siding (Wall Cladding)

This is the exterior material applied to the walls of a house or other building meant to shed water, protect the walls from the effects of weather, insulate and is key in the aesthetics of the structure. Some walls such as; ‘solid brickwork’ and ‘masonry veneer’ aren’t covered with siding, but some buildings such as; log buildings can have siding added.

Today, this type of finishing is now the trend in Uganda’s Construction Industry with many of the newly constructed Residential structures having adopted it. Also noted, is its wide usage on Commercial structures like; Apartment Blocks, Hotels, Complex/Malls, Cottages etc.  Siding may be formed of horizontal or vertical boards, shingles or sheet materials. In all cases, avoiding wind and rain infiltration through the joints is a major challenge, met by overlapping, covering or sealing the joints, or by creating an interlocking joint such as; tongue and groove or rabbet. Since building materials expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity, it is not practical to make rigid joints between the siding elements so they often leak. In such scenarios, Rain screen construction is used to improve siding’s ability to keep walls dry. Rain screen is a system of building where an exterior wall detail stands off from the moisture resistant surface of an air barrier applied to the sheathing / sheeting to create a capillary break and also allow drainage and evaporation.

Types of Siding include the following;

Thatch siding; this is an ancient and very wide spread building material used on roofs and walls. It’s made with dry vegetation e.g. water reeds or combed reeds and these materials are overlapped and weaved in patterns designed to deflect and direct water.

Wood siding; this is very versatile in style and it can be painted or stained in any colour. Installation and repair are relatively simple and also provides minor insulation but it requires more maintenance than other popular solutions i.e. treatment every 4 to 9 years depending on the severity of the elements to which it’s exposed. And at times if the area is pest infected with say termites and ants then maintenance can significantly increase the cost.

Stone siding; here different stones are used as a finish to the walls e.g. stone slates.

Plastic siding; this is majorly in North America where wood clapboards (long, thin boards used to cover walls and (formerly) roofs of buildings) and/or weather boards are imitated using vinyl or uPVC weather boarding. It’s produced in units twice as high as clapboard. Vinyl siding is sensitive to direct heat from grills, barbeques or other sources. Due to its many flaws/ short comings, it’s not a widely used type of siding because it’s been criticized by some fire safety experts for its heat sensitivity since fire can jump to neighbouring houses, also it’s difficult to dispose of responsibly since it can’t be burned and its currently not recycled.

Imitation brick or stone – Asphalt siding; asphalt impregnated panels (about 2ft x 4ft) gave the appearance of brick or even stone. Many buildings of the 20th Century or lower still have this type of siding especially old sheds and garages. If the panels are straight and level and not damaged, the only indication that they are not real brick may be seen at the corner caps. Today thin panels of “real brick” are manufactured.

Insulated siding; this has emerged as a new siding category in recent years. Considered an improvement over vinyl siding insulated siding is custom fit with expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) that is fused to the back of the siding, which fills the gap between the home and the siding. This reduces energy consumption compared to any other exterior cladding materials and is durable designed to last more than 50years according to manufacturers. The form provides rigidity for a more wind resistant siding, maintaining quality look and requires low maintenance and is also permeable or “breathable” allowing water vapour to escape hence; protecting against rot, mold, mildew, and help maintain healthy indoor air quality.

Metal siding; this comes in a variety of metals, styles and colours. It is most associated with modern, industrial or retro buildings. Utilitarian Buildings often use corrugated galvanized steel sheet siding or cladding; which often has a coloured vinyl finish. ‘Corrugated Aluminium’ cladding is also common where a more durable finish is required while also being light weight for easy shaping and installing making it a popular metal siding choice.

Masonry siding; it’s most suited to neutral earth tones and coatings e.g. roughcast and pebble dash  though at times it can be painted or tinted to match many colour palettes. Masonry has excellent durability (over 100years) and minimal maintenance is required although its initial cost is the primary draw back.  The environmental impact of masonry depends on the type of material used.

Composite siding; here, composite materials such as; asphalt shingles, asbestos, fibre cement, aluminium, fibre board, hard board etc. are used. These are ideal for achieving a certain style or look that may not be suited to the local environment e.g. corrugated aluminium siding in an area prone to severe storms; steel in coastal climates, wood siding in termite infested regions). Costs of composites tend t be lower than wood options, but vary widely as do installation; maintenance and repair requirements and the durability and environmental impact too depends on the specific materials used in the manufacturing process.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *