When you mention wood siding most people automatically think of clapboard style siding. This type of wood siding consists of overlapping horizontal rows also properly called "courses". Most real wood clapboard style siding that you are going to find today is going to be made from cedar, redwood or cypress. The lesser woods will have long since rotted away. Jointed horizontal siding may also be shiplap style.
Plywood sheeting with grooves to imitate vertical shiplap siding is also sold and used for siding here in the US. One brand name T-111 is often used to refer to this style of siding.
Wood shingles also know as cedar "shakes" were used extensively in the early days of the country, revived at the start of the 20th century and is still used on a few homes today.
Installation of wood siding is relatively simple but over the long term involves a lot more maintenance than other choices.
Wood clapboard and Dutch lap siding is often imitated using vinyl siding. The clapboard style is sold is double 5 and triple 4 board heights while the Dutch lap is a double 5. Vinyl imitations of wood shingle and wood shakes are also sold. Vinyl siding has grown in popularity due to the generally low maintenance, low cost appeal, and perceived ease of installation.
Vinyl siding is a manufactured product that is available in a wide variety of colors and textures. Two considerations to keep in mind: vinyl siding is sensitive to direct heat from BBQ grills or other sources and does not provide additional insulation value for the building, unless an insulation material like foam, has been added to the product.
Insulated vinyl siding
This product is considered an improvement over regular vinyl siding. It is manufactured with expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) that is fused to the back of the siding, which fills the gap between the home and the siding. It is reported that on average insulated siding products have an R-value of 3.96, triple that of other exterior siding materials. Insulated siding products are typically Energy Star qualified.
Aluminum or metal siding
Aluminum and even steel metal siding imitating wood clapboards was once quite popular but in residential applications that is typically done with vinyl siding today. Metal siding is still widely used in commercial applications, storage and metal out-buildings but is not used on homes.
Wood composites (hardboard)
Though there are several makers of hardboard lap siding Masonite is the brand name best known. Hardboard siding is a type of siding that is made from wood, wax, and resins. The manufacturing process involves the consolidation of wood fibers under heat and pressure.
The Masonite brand is available in a wide variety of colors and textures that imitate the look feel of lumber. It is available in thicknesses of 7/16th inch and 1/2 inch. The lap siding is available in lengths up to 16 feet. Panel siding is available in widths up to 4 feet and lengths up to 9 feet. The product is available in four different finishes. Masonite needs to be painted every 5-6 years. Exterior latex and acrylic paint are the most suitable for painting hardboard siding.
Fiber Cement siding materials are made from compacted layers of fiber and cement. The product is heavy and special care must be exercised while installing due to potential health concerns with silica dust. Even with those concerns the product is very popular. Due to its composition it is naturally flame retardant. Fiber cement siding is sold in lap, vertical T-111 style, shingle/shake siding and even soffit material types. The JamesHardie Company (http://www.jameshardie.com) makes and sells a wide variety of siding made from a concrete composite material and is the best known manufacturer of this style of siding.
Stucco Siding Materials (EIFS)
Real stucco is a durable finish for exterior walls, composed of cement, sand, and lime, and applied while wet. It would be considered a veneer and not a siding.
Stucco siding (synthetic stucco) is EIFS siding board applied to the sheeting and topped off with finish system. We aren't going to spend a lot of time on this subject but if you are considering it you should do a lot more reading because it may not be suitable for your application.
Other Composite siding
Various other composite materials like asphalt and asbestos have been used over the years for siding. You may find them in the form of shingles or boards. You should approach any unknown siding with caution and seek qualified advice before working with or attempting to remove them. Remediation by licensed contractors is required in almost all parts of the US if the product contains asbestos.
Brief History of Aluminum and Vinyl Siding
The first documented architectural application of aluminum was the mounting of the grounding cap on the Washington Monument in 1884. Vinyl siding was ................