The exterior of your home is the first thing that people notice when they visit or drive past your house. The material and colour you choose can have a big effect on the curb appeal of your home. If you’ve decided it might be time to renovate your home’s exterior, you may start wondering if there’s actually a difference between 2 words getting thrown around online: siding and cladding. Though they may seem to refer to the same thing, the terms do actually refer to different styles of home exteriors.

What’s the difference between siding and cladding?

When it comes time to look into updating or renovating your homes exterior, you may start seeing a whole bunch of different terms that you didn’t know before. Two of these commonly used terms in exterior renovation are siding and cladding. While most of us think that everything that goes on the side of the house is called siding, there are a few differences in what these words are describing, and it is more in depth than just their looks!

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This usually includes materials like vinyl, aluminum, composites or other engineered materials. Typically, these are materials that are installed in a panelled method, in either a vertical or horizontal pattern. Siding is also applied directly to the side of your home, either directly to the sheathing or to the foam board insulation.

Siding will offer protection against water and other elements thanks to their material and design except that it does not have any sort of drainage or venting system between the siding itself and the house wall. While most siding materials will have a significant ability to keep your home protected from mold and moisture, this is something to discuss with your contractor when looking at options.


Unlike siding, cladding usually refers to materials like wood, stucco, fiber cement and any other material that doesn’t fit into the siding or masonry category.

The biggest difference between siding and cladding is actually in their application method. While siding is installed directly onto the exterior of the house, cladding is actually multiple layers of material separated from the exterior wall by furring strips. These strips help to separate the cladding from the side of the house, allowing space for moisture to vent and drain. The materials used in cladding often don’t repel moisture the same way siding does, so this rainscreen system is a necessary feature.

Cladding also comes with a different kind of design versatility than typical siding or masonry does. Though you have quite a bit of room to play with looks with either of those two styles, cladding can add another level of versatility to a designer’s plate. With cladding, colours can be combined to create the perfect look and panels can be installed at any angle to maximize the space and design elements of your house.


There is also a third classification when it comes to siding materials and that is masonry. Masonry refers to materials like stone and brick. This style of exterior is often designed to look like it’s been used as a construction material however it’s actually been installed as cladding. This is an important distinction to make when settling on a plan with your builder.

Masonry is an excellent addition to traditional versions of siding or cladding and can really elevate the style you’re going for. Using brickwork or stone as an accent along with a vinyl, stucco or wood as a base can help you create an exterior look that will catch everyone’s eye.

It’s all about the curb appeal

Regardless of what kind of siding you choose, the updated look is bound to improve the curb appeal of your home. Whether you want a more traditional look with siding or brick or you want to go with something a bit more unique or modern, understanding what these terms mean will help you talk to your contractor about what you have in mind.