How to Install Exterior Wall Cladding to Your Home

Man nailing up siding on a house
  • 20-40 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 10,000-20,000
What You'll Need
Plywood sheathing
Exterior wall cladding of choice
Galvanized nails or screws
Skill saw
Tape measure
Foam insulation
House wrap
Assorted trim and corner pieces

Exterior wall cladding is any material used to cover the exterior wall of your home. Cladding is available in many different types and styles. From brick and stone, to wood and vinyl, you have plenty of siding options. Even metal, PVC, and cement fiber boards can be used. Cladding is mostly installed over a plywood sheathing, and usually in ordered lines for an organized look. Exterior finishing products, like stucco and plaster, are spread over the plywood. Techniques for installing exterior wall cladding to your home will depend on the type you are using, but the preparation and general process is basically the same.

Step 1 - Measure Exterior Walls of Home

In order to get the right amount of materials for your exterior wall cladding, you must take plenty of measurements. Most importantly, you need to know the length and width of each wall. You'll also want other measurements, like the size of spaces around windows and doors, for any trims or channels.

Step 2 - Complete All Sheathing

Before you set any exterior wall cladding onto the outside of your home, make sure all of the plywood sheathing is installed.

Step 3 - Install House Wrap and Foam Insulation

man installing siding on a house

These two necessities are often overlooked by do-it-yourselfers who want to finish a project quickly. However, these elements are crucial to the ultimate energy efficiency and weather protection of your home. Wrap the building with your paper of choice and secure with staples. Next, install the foam insulation panels with nails.

Step 4 - Begin Starter Row of Cladding

Depending on your siding material, you may need to begin with a starter row. Begin this at the bottom of a wall, and take your time on this step. You're building a foundation for the rest of the job. Keep the first row level along the entire length, so each successive row is straight, too.

Step 5 - Overlap The Next Rows

siding installation on a house

If you are using cement board, wood siding, vinyl siding, or metal siding, you will need to keep in mind that each row must overlap the top of the bottom row. This is for protection against water seeping into the back of the cladding. Most of the materials have a declination line on the back to help guide you.

Step 6 - Finish a Wall before Installing Trim and Other Items

Most exterior wall cladding will have some special items to both finish off the look of the home and give it some added protection. For example, vinyl siding is installed with the use of J channels and corner pieces. While the channels must be installed first, the trim and corner pieces go on after the wall siding is in place. This is true of other cladding like wood, cement, brick, and even stucco. Place the trim, corners, and other finishing touches after the walls are completed.