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

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

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.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2015, All Rights Reserved.

Siding, Sheathing on Building Exteriors: Photo Guide

Photograph of - damaged vinyl siding[Click to enlarge any image]

Article Contents

Aluminum Siding Identification Photos

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

[Click to enlarge any image]

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

Bark (tree bark) Used as Building Siding & Walls

Very loose brick veneer wall (C) Daniel Friedman
  • Tree bark used on some traditional native american structures is demonstrated in this structure located in Cooperstown, NY.

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:

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.

  • Asbestos cement siding and similarly asbestos cement roof shingles are a hard, cementious building material made from cement and asbestos fibers as well as asbestos filler. This is a durable, very fire-resistant material that has proven long-lived, though fragile and vulnerable to mechanical damage. Asbestos dust hazards can be significant especially during demolition or cutting or grinding the material with power tools. Details are at
  • Fiber cement sidng and similar fiber cement roof products are a hard, cementious material that uses (usually) wood fibers to add strength and body - replacing more hazardous asbestos fibers. There are however health warnings issued by the manufacturers and others concerning silica dust that might be created by the same mechanical means as we described for asbestos.

    Fiber cement siding and roofing should have similar durability and fire resistance properties to asbestos-cement products. We've heard reports of "swelling" "rotting" etc. with fiber cement products but have not found hard evidence - possibly the reporters were confusing their materials.
  • Hardboard siding was made from wood fibers and wood products using a combination of binding resins, heat, and pressure.

Hardboard Siding Identification Photos

Photograph of deteriorated hardboard siding.

For details about all brands of hardboard siding see

Also see : What's the difference between hardboard siding and fiber cement siding? just above.


Steel Building Siding

Photos and steel siding specifications wanted (contact us)


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 descriptiosn 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.


List of building siding materials articles

Additional building exterior siding articles are listed here:

  • SIDING, ASBESTOS CEMENT - Asbestos fiber & asbestos cement shingle siding: popularity declined with the rise in popularity of aluminum siding in the U.S. in the 1950's.

    That article provides asbesto cement siding & roofing dentification, photos, replacement materials, safety recommendations, disposal issues
  • SIDING, ALUMINUM - (photo of aluminum siding, 1960's, showing siding installed over peeling painted clapboard, siding backer board details). Aluminum & steel building siding - popular in the U.S. 1940's - 1970's. Because of the large amounts of energy used to produce aluminum siding and increasing raw materials costs, aluminum siding declined in popularity in the U.S. in the 1970's.

    Aluminum siding, produced from aluminum coil stock and painted in a wide variety of colors, provided a durable exterior building cladding that resisted rust and rot. See SIDING, ALUMINUM for details.

    Watch out: some versions of aluminum siding included a paint coating that weathered, chalked, and even washed off entirely, leaving a bare aluminum surface. With careful surface preparation and selection of a paint recommended by its manufacturer for aluminum siding, it is possible to re-paint weathered aluminum siding - of course we then have converted a "no maintenance" material into one that will require occasional repainting.
  • SIDING ASPHALT SHINGLE or SHEET - Asphalt shingle siding and asphalt sheet siding (photo of asphalt siding, Coolidge Hotel, White River Junction, VT). Asphalt siding: materials similar to asphalt roof shingles, used as building siding, designed to resemble brick, wood, or other materials, popular from ca 1930 - 1955. See SIDING ASPHALT SHINGLE or SHEET
  • Brick building exteriors: structural brick walls & brick veneers
  • Composite wood siding - Masonite, Woodruf, and other brands - see hardboard siding just below.
  • SIDING HARDBOARD - Hardboard building siding: see SIDING HARDBOARD
    Boise Cascade, Georgia Pacific, Masonite, etc: siding failures, inspections, class actions.
  • SIDING EIFS & STUCCO building wall cladding installation defects, leaks, damage, class actions - links list;

    Photo of EIFS
  • LOG HOME construction: solid log construction vs. SLAB LOG CABIN Siding -


    and VERTICAL LOG WALLS on Cabins & Homes.
  • PAINT FAILURE DIAGNOSIS - extensive library of how-to articles on diagnosing and preventing paint problems on buildings and in art conservation
  • Plaster/cement horsehair lath siding
  • Sawn clapboard siding -

    and also see PAINT FAILURES
  • SIDING STEEL - Steel building siding was sold based on advantages similar to aluminum siding (see Aluminum siding) but with disadvantages of heavier weight, more difficult to install (harder to cut and trim), and vulnerable to rust. Steel siding was never as popular in North America as aluminum nor its later replacement - vinyl.
  • Stucco siding on building exteriors: Horsehair mixed with plaster or cement for building exterior wall covering, also see SIDING EIFS STUCCO.

    Also see STUCCO OVER FOAM INSULATION - choices of insulation and support for stucco over foam insulation over masonry walls
  • Synthetic stucco siding, EIFS wall cladding - see SIDING EIFS & STUCCO
  • VAPOR BARRIERS - Vapor barriers: history of use of housewrap and vapor barriers; vapor barrier types:
  • SIDING VINYL - Vinyl siding:

    PVC based vinyl siding was introduced in the U.S. in the 1950's and 60's, began to overtake aluminum siding for building exterior wall coverings in the 1970's and by the 1980's was the dominant exterior siding material on residential structures in the U.S. for both new construction and for remodeling. The cost of covering a building exterior with vinyl siding was competitive with a properly executed exterior paint job, and the result more durable.

    Vinyl Siding, includes review & comments about moisture & vapor barriers. Vinyl siding is popular in part because it is lightweight and easy to work with, easy to cut, trim, and install.

    Watch out: early vinyl siding suffered from weathering, cracking, impact damage, and buckling from heating. While modern vinyl siding products are very durable, impact and dent and weather resistant, the material will still buckle if it is not properly installed (nailed too tightly to the building).

    Also see
  • SIDING WOOD, FAILURES OVER FOAM BOARD - Wood shingle siding:

    and also see PAINT FAILURES
  • At Field Guides to North American House Architecture we list (and you can buy at Amazon) books we have found particularly helpful in identifying architectural styles, including: as this more extensive list of architectural styles: Folk Houses, Native American Houses (U.S.), Pre-Railroad houses, National Architectural Styles (U.S.), Colonial Houses (1600-1820), Post medieval English, Dutch Colonial, French Colonial, Spanish Colonial, Georgian, Adam, Early Classical Revival, Romantic Houses (1820-1880), Greek Revival style architecture, Gothic Revival style architecture, Italianate style architecture, Exotic Revivals style architecture, Octagon houses, Victorian style architecture Houses (1860-1900), Second Empire style architecture, Stick style architecture, Queen Anne style architecture, Shingle style architecture, Richardsonian Romanesque style architecture, Folk Victorian style architecture, Eclectic Houses (1880-1940), Anglo-American style architecture, English style architecture, and French Period Houses, Colonial Revival style architecture, Neoclassical style architecture, Tudor style architecture, Chateauesque style architecture, Beaux Arts style architecture, French Eclectic style architecture, Mediterranean Period Houses style architecture, Italian Renaissance style architecture, Mission style architecture, Spanish Eclectic style architecture, Monterey style architecture, Pueblo Revival style architecture, Modern Houses including Prairie style architecture, Craftsman style architecture, Modernistic style architecture, International style architecture, and American Houses Since 1940: Modern style architecture & Neoeclectic style architecture as well as unusual houses such as Mongolian Cloud (photo, Kuehn) houses and Underground Houses (photo, Roy).


Continue reading at HOUSEWRAP / SHEATHING WRAP or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.

Suggested citation for this web page

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

More Reading

Green link shows where you are in this article series.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about how to identify different types of siding on buildings


Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Questions & answers or comments about how to identify different types of building exterior siding, wall cladding, finish surfaces.

Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References