Siding glossary of terms

Want to understand what your exterior trades are referring to? We’ve put together a huge siding glossary of terms so that you’ll always be in the know when it comes to your exteriors project.

Still have questions? Contact our office in Calgary or Edmonton today and get the answers you’re looking for! Our friendly, knowledgeable technicians are always glad to help. You can also visit us online at any time to receive a free quote!

Air barrier

A construction element used to control the passage of air through a building.

Aluminum siding

Siding planks made from aluminum, usually with a baked-on enamel finish.

Backerboard

Material that is placed behind the panel or filling the space between the siding and the wall (the back of the siding). Often a rigid insulation.

Battens

Narrow strips of board that are covering the seams of wider vertical boards. See Board and Batten.

Beveled

Thicker on 1 edge than the opposite edge, also known as tapering. In siding, the bottom is thickest.

Blocking

The use of various blocks of wood to stiffen areas of the wall, serve as stops or supports, or simply a place to nail when attaching exterior products.

Board and batten

A style of vertical siding installation composed of wider boards and narrower battens covering the seams.

Buckle/buckling

Wrinkling or rippling that distorts the shape of the siding product and/or underlay. Usually caused by some movement of the structure or product, or the inability of a product to naturally expand or contract.

Butt-lock

The bottom of the siding piece that is opposite the fastening strip and that locks into the previous piece of siding or trim.

Caulking

A material used to seal joints or seams against water entry or contact. Caulking comes in a variety of colours and types.

Cavity wall

A wall within a wall that is built to provide air space.

Channel

The area where siding and exterior materials, including soffit, are attached to trims and corners. This may also be what the trim itself is called, such as J-channel or F-channel. The letter naming refers to the letter that the shapes most closely resemble.

Checking

A splitting or cracking along the grain of wood siding.

Cladding

A covering or coating material used on an exterior structure.

Clapboard

Horizontal, overlapping wood plank siding. Also a style of siding that mimics the clapboard look.

Composite board

Siding that is manufactured as weather-resistant, compressed wood material.

Corner post

A trim piece used when 2 walls meet at a 90 degree angle to form an outside corner.

Course

A row of siding material.

Crimp

When a locking mechanism has been removed or there never was 1, a crimp is formed with tools to accommodate the joining.

Cultured stone

A manufactured stone siding material made to resemble natural stone that is usually moulded with concrete and aggregate.

Cupping

When material warps to form a curvature beyond what it originally had.

Dormer

A raised and framed section of roof that protrudes from the rest of the roof.

Downspout

A piping system attached to the eavestrough (AKA the gutter) and running to a lower surface or the ground in order to manage water and direct it away from the house or certain areas.

Drip cap

A piece of trim that deflects water from the top surface that is different from the siding. In Alberta, this is usually installed above windows, doors, transitions to different materials, types of exterior features, etc.

Dutch lap

A style of siding that is designed to look like hand-crafted wood siding.

Eave

The level sides of the roof overhang where water sheds off the roof and usually into a gutter or eavestrough.

Eavestrough

A trough usually attached to the eaves to manage watershed from the roof into downspouts and away from the house or certain areas. Sometimes called a gutter.

F-channel

A trim piece that resembles an “F” shape

Face

The side that is visible after the material is installed.

Fascia

Siding material put over the fascia board.

Fascia board

A board that is fastened to the end of the roof rafters and that provides a finished look to the edge of the roof.

Faux-stone panels

Siding panels that mimic a variety of stone looks but are easier and cheaper to install.

Fibre cement siding

Siding boards and trims manufactured with cement, reinforced with cellulose fibres.

Finishing trim

A trim designed to give edges a professional, finished look.

Flange

This is the area in siding where fastening holes are.

Flashing

A piece of material, usually metal, that is used to deflect water away from getting behind exteriors.

Furring strip

Commonly called strapping in Alberta (see Strapping). A piece of material, usually metal or wood, placed on the exterior that is used to fasten siding materials onto. It can also be used to level surfaces for a more finished look, such as with brick or stucco.

Gable

A triangular area at the end of a part of the house where the eave end runs straight to ridge end.

Gable vent

An air vent designed to be placed on the wall of a gable, allowing air into or out of the attic space.

Gutter

Another term used to describe an eavestrough. This is a trough attached to the eaves to manage watershed from the roof into downspouts and away from the house.

Inside corner

A trim used where 2 walls meet at a 90 degree angle to form an inside corner.

J-channel

A trim piece that resembles a “J” shape. This trim provides a groove for the ends of exterior materials to sit inside of.

Lap

Where 2 pieces of material overlap each other.

Levelwall

Insulation that is installed over uneven surfaces (stucco or brick) that then acts to provide a level surface for siding installation to improve the appearance and performance.

Lock

The edge of the material that securely accepts the edge of the next piece or course of material. When those 2 edges lock together, it is called a lock.

Locking leg

The locking leg is the edge of the material that securely fits into a lock edge of the previous piece or course.

Miter

Where 2 pieces join at a 45 degree angle cut.

Nail slot

On the nailing hem, the slot is where the fasteners go. This nail slot is usually long or large enough to allow the material to expand and contract while still maintaining a secure fastening.

Nailing hem

The section of siding material where the fastening holes are located.

OSB

Oriented Strand Board (OSB) is a type of decking made from wood chips and glue.

Outside corner

A trim piece used where 2 walls meet at a 90 degree angle to form an outside corner. Also called a corner post.

Overdriven

When fasteners are driven too tightly so as to limit the ability of a material to expand and contract as intended, or to cause damage to the fastening area thereby weakening the products performance.

Overhang

The portion of the roof that extends past the walls of the building.

Penetrations

These are where cut-outs have to be made on the wall or roof where a vent, pipe, or electrical elements penetrate through the exterior to the interior or vice versa. Attention has to be paid to these areas so that they are watertight, as they break the solid pattern of material.

Plates

Plates are installed around certain penetrations, such as electrical or light penetrations, to provide an aesthetic and functioning install around these penetrations.

Profile

The term used to describe the aesthetic shape of a piece of a siding material.

Rake

The sloped sides of the overhanging part of the roof system when overhanging a gable.

Reveal

The part of the siding material that you see.

Scoring

The process of running a sharp knife along a piece of material without cutting all the way through. This is sometimes used to more precisely cut through difficult pieces of material by bending it where it has been scored until it breaks cleanly.

Shake

A shingle that is cut from wood or that mimics a cut from wood. This term can apply to roofing and exterior materials.

Sheathing

Commonly plywood or OSB sheets fastened to the surface of a building.

Shiplap

A system for wall materials where there are grooves shaped on the bottom and top edge for one piece to join the previous piece. This system is similar to tongue and groove in practice and finished look but the edges look and fit differently.

Sill trim

On the exterior, this trim that the window sill which is at the bottom of the window.

Soffit

The underside of the roof overhang between the end of the overhang (the fascia) and the wall. Soffit material can be vented or non-vented, depending on fire or building codes and venting needs.

Square

A quick term used to describe 100 square feet.

Starter strip

The starting trim piece used to attach the first course of material.

Strapping

A piece of material, usually metal or wood, placed on the exterior that is used to fasten siding materials onto. It can also be used to level surfaces for a more finished look, such as with brick or stucco. Strapping is sometimes referred to as furring strips.

Stucco

A cement, sand, and water mixture that is used to finish the exterior of a home.

T-channel

A trim piece that resembles the shape of a “T” and that usually helps join 2 pieces on the same face or wall side by side.

Tin canning

A rippling or warping that presents itself in exterior materials, usually sometime after installation, due to expansion and/or contraction, or the inability of a material to do so because of unforgiving fastening. Most common in sheet metal types of materials, especially larger pieces or thinner gauges.

Tongue and groove

A system for connecting materials where there is a tongue end that is placed in a groove end of a previous piece to join them together. This system is similar to shiplap in practice and finished look but edges for fitting are different.

Underlayment

A material, usually in a roll, that is installed in overlapping rows and pieces to protect the outside of the home while sitting underneath the exterior finish material, such as vinyl siding on walls or asphalt shingles on roofs.

Veneer

A single thickness of brick, stone, or wood finish on the outside of a house.

Vinyl siding

Plastic siding that comes in a wide variety of styles, colours, and thicknesses.

Weep holes

Holes or openings cut into siding material to allow for water to drain out.