Photograph of - damaged vinyl siding Guide to Building Siding Types, Defects, Installation
Photos, descriptions, & properties of all types of building exterior wall sidings

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Guide to building siding & wall claddings:

This guide to types of building siding includes photos and descriptions of each type of building siding, including photos helpful in recognizing various types of residential building siding materials and building exterior cladding systems.What's the difference between hardboard siding, fiber cement siding, and asbestos cement siding?

Is hardboard siding the same thing as fiber cement siding? Is steel siding better than aluminum siding? How long will vinyl siding last?

We define these terms and explain the differences here. We include links to detailed information about the installation, inspection, troubleshooting & repair of each siding type and where pertinent, links to health, environmental, and siding or failure warranty claim information about various building siding materials.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Siding, Sheathing on Building Exteriors

Horrible vinyl siding job in New York - many defects cataloged (C) Daniel FriedmanThis page lists key articles discussing the installation, inspection, troubleshooting & repair of building siding & sheathing. We include photo guides to help identify various building exterior cladding or covering products.

To find what you need quickly, if you don't want to scroll through this index you are welcome to use the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX to search InspectApedia for specific articles and information.

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Article Contents

The terrible vinyl siding job shown above is discussed in more detail at VINYL SIDING INSPECTION & REPAIR.

Aluminum Siding Identification Photos

Buckled siding at ground level indicates sill crushing (C) Daniel Friedman

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At above our photo illustrates buckled aluminum siding, a clue that there is hidden damage to the building sills and structure.

Damaged aluminum siding (C) Daniel Friedman

Above is 1960's vintage aluminum siding with surface coating loss.


Also see the additional photo and drawing guides to building architectural styles in the links listed at page top or at the MORE READING links at the bottom of this article see ARCHITECTURE & BUILDING COMPONENT ID for illustrations of building architectural types, roof shape, architectural features.

Also see AGE of a BUILDING, HOW to DETERMINE as well as individual building component links listed at the "More Reading" links at the bottom of this article .

Age and types of building windows and doors and related architectural features can be found at WINDOWS & DOORS, Age, Types.

Asbestos Cement Siding & Cement Board & Fiber Cement Siding Identification Photos

Photograph of - damaged vinyl siding

Exterior Siding & Roofing Using Asbestos Cement included asbestos cement shingles, asbestos cement siding, corrugated asbestos-cement roofing.

Other fiber cement materials used in construction included

Modern Cement Board & Non-Asbestos-Fiber Cement Products

Cement board is a non-structural building sheathing material which in its contemporary form is made from Portland cement covered with a reinforced fiberglass mesh fabric.

Cement board is used as a tile backer or a backer board for stucco applications on buildings. Current producers include Custom Building Products (WonderBoard™) and US Gypsum (Durock™).

Panels made of a mixture of cement and wood fibers are produced for building siding by James Hardi (Hardi-panel and Cemplank™), and CertainTeed (Weatherboard™).

Details about modern fiber cement siding (not an asbestos product) are organized at

Also see

History & dates in process, contributions invited - CONTACT us

Asphalt Shingle or Sheet Building Siding

Damaged asphalt siding (C) Daniel Friedman

For detailed description and information about asphalt siding and asphalt shingle siding used on buildings see these articles:

Bamboo Exterior Walls & Siding

Bamboo is widely used for simple exterior walls as well as in roofing in tropical climates such as this building in southern Oxaca, Mexico. Typically, using galvanized wire, rope or string, the bamboo is placed vertically and laced to a horizontal beam in a simple framed wall.

Bamboo exterior walls, Oxaca, Mexico (C) Daniel Friedman

Bark (tree bark) Used as Building Siding & Walls: Birchbark structures, Other bark structures & exteriors

Tree bark, both in heavy rigid form and in thinner or peeled-bark form such as birch bark, has been used as a building material probably since pre-historic times

. Use of some barks such as birch bark continue into contemporary time in a wide variety of applications ranging from wall enclosures to canoes to carrying vessels as we illustrate below.

Rough birch bark tipi type structure, High Falls MN (C) Daniel Friedman

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Above: a rough tipi type winter structure, incomplete, on display at the Grand Portage State Park, Grand Portage MN near High Falls Minnesota, the state's tallest waterfall offering a visual explanation of why for both native Americans and the voyageurs a portage was necessary in the first place.

Also see FABRIC & ANIMAL SKIN EXTERIORS for other tipi-like structures.

The Grand Portage State Park, managed by the Ojibwe tribe, includes a museum offering both life-sized models and smaller models of Ojibwe structures, canoes, baskets, tools and culture, some of which are included in our photographs below.

Grand Portage birchbark winter structure, Ojibwe, Grand Portage Museum (C) Daniel Friedman

Above: in a rather posh indoor environment, this birch bark sided winter structure is on display in the Ojibwe museum at Grand Portage State Park. A detail of the birch bark structure is given in the photo just below.

Ojibwe winter birch bark structure detail (D) Daniel Friedman

According to interpretive notes provided by the museum, winterers ("North Men" or "hivernants") from the North West Trading Company over-wintered and traded with native Americans who themselves hunted beaver and other furred animals and who prepared the hides for trading.

Below we reproduce one of the Grand Portage National Monument Heritage Center Museum's photographs of a much larger winter lodge built of birch bark.

Birch Bark winter lodge, Ojibwe, Grand Portage State Park museum photograph, Grand Portage Minnesota, USA

Back in the Eastern United States, and illustrated below, tree bark is shown as used on some traditional native american structures demonstrated in this shed located in Cooperstown, NY.

Very loose brick veneer wall (C) Daniel Friedman

Brick & Stone Veneer Building Exteriors

Very loose brick veneer wall (C) Daniel Friedman

For detailed description and information about both structural brick walls and brick veneer walls (photo at left) used used on buildings see these articles:

EIFS Synthetic Stucco System Building Exteriors

EIFS building exterior inspection (C) Daniel Friedman

For detailed description and information about EIFS & synthetic stucco products used on buildings see these articles:

Fabric & Animal Skin Sided Structures: Tipis

Animal skins and fabrics (canvas, cotton, and other mateirals) have been used for thousands of years to enclose both temporary and longer-term use structures such as tents, tipis and lodges.

Silver Creek Gifts & Gallery Tipi, 1825 Highway 61, Two Harbors MN 218-834-4995

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Above, a modern tipi sided with painted canvas, on display at the Silver Creek Gifts and Gallery gift shop near Two Harbors MN. Photo courtesy of owners Amy Church and Mark Klug.


Fiber Cement Siding

Gaps at vertical trim joints of HardiePlank siding (C) Daniel Friedman

Fiber cement siding is produced from a mixture of cementious bonding material and wood fibers. Do not confuse this product with hardboard siding (wood fibers bonded by resin adhesive and heat/pressure SIDING HARDBOARD) nor with ASBESTOS CEMENT SIDING

What's the difference between hardboard siding and fiber cement siding?

We've seen that some, even among home inspectors, confuse hardboard siding, asbestos cement siding, and fiber cement siding.

Hardboard Siding Identification Photos

Photograph of deteriorated hardboard siding.

For details about all brands of hardboard siding and siding failure claims information see

and also see

Steel Building Siding

Below: corrugated steel siding on a medical center in Oxaca, Mexico. This building, located in the highlands above Pluma de Hidalgo, serves as a medical center.

Corrugated steel siding (C) Daniel Friedman Oxaca

Photos and steel siding specifications wanted (contact us)

Below: corrugated steel siding on a commercial storage building in Poughkeepsie, New York. This building is viewed from the Poughkeepsie Rail Trail near the railroad bridge. Located in a climate of nearly opposite properties to the Oxacan building shown above, this building and the one above both have been in place for at least 30 years.

Corrugated steel building, Poughkeepsie NY (C) Daniel Friedman

See SIDING STEEL for additional information.

Vinyl Siding Identification Photos

Algae growth on vinyl siding (C) Daniel Friedman

For a detailed description of vinyl building siding, its properties, proper installation methods, and effects of vinyl building products on odors or health questions see these articles:

Wood Siding Identification Photos: clapboards, board & batten, plywood, T111

Pier construction, Northern Maine (C) D Friedman

For description of all types of wood siding products on building exteriors see

We discuss plywood siding, T111 siding, wood shingle siding, board and batten siding and similar approaches to cladding the building exterior.


Index to Key Bbuilding Siding Articles

Additional building exterior siding articles are listed here:


Continue reading at HOUSEWRAP / SHEATHING WRAP or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see these

Siding Articles

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SIDING TYPES, INSTALLATION, DEFECTS at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


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