5 Exterior cladding ideas to give your home a modern vibe

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5 Exterior cladding ideas to give your home a modern vibe

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What is cladding?

I haven’t found a really good explanation of what the difference is between siding and cladding but, simply put, cladding is another term for siding. They are both exterior coverings on the wall of a house and the terms are often times used interchangeably. Here are 5 exterior cladding ideas to give your home a modern vibe.

Wood Cladding

There are many different types of wood that can be used on the exterior of a home.  In modern architecture, wood cladding gives a nice contrast when mixed with other cladding elements some of which I will discuss later in this article. The two most popular that are seen on modern exteriors are

  • Western red cedar – it is a rot and insect resistant wood and is easy to work with, it is an excellent wood for stains and it’s straight grain makes for a very stable wood for cladding
  • Redwood – the redwood has many of the characteristics of cedar, it also takes stain well


The maintenance on these two types of wood cladding is excellent compared to other softwoods.  Both require annual power-washing and renewal of stain or paint every 3 years, or as needed.

However,  there are two hardwoods that I have found that I like very well and will most likely be using one of these on the exterior of our house and on our decking when we redo our deck.

  • Cumaru Brazilian Teak
  • Ipe (E-Peh)


Both of these are used a lot as decking because of their durability. The drawback is the maintenance and price. From what I understand both fade to a grey color after about 1-2 years after installing, and an oil and stain are applied. The reason is that since the wood is so hard, it does not soak up the stain or oil in the way that a softwood does. Therefore, maintenance has to be done to restore the beauty of the wood more frequently. Or it can be left in the weathered grey color. This will not hurt the longevity of the wood. If you decide to restore the color, a good cleaning is recommended before applying the new oil or stain.

Cumaru Maintenance

Ipe Maintenance

Samples of the Ipe and Cumaru. The Ipe is supposed to be darker but with these samples, there is not a huge difference. The representative I spoke to said there are some color variations in both. Both are weather, rot, and insect resistant.


Fiber Cement Cladding

Next up is Fiber cement cladding which is made by taking wood fiber, portland cement, water, additives and baking it at high temperatures under pressure into its final form. It is strong, durable, fire resistant, insect resistant and weather resistant. Many will say it is rot, mold and mildew resistant, however, I totally disagree. Under certain conditions that is false. Please read our siding project on our blog for more information.

Even though we have had problems with our current fiber cement lap siding, I like fiber cement as a cladding for many reasons. Fire resistant and bug resistant, but fiber cement is versatile. It can be used with a rainscreen system, a reveal system, flat strips or as lap siding. Both the rainscreen and reveal can create a nice architectural block look to the structure. The cladding can then be painted in any scheme the architect or homeowner can come up with.

Reveal Systems

We used Fry Reglet’s reveal system, which is just an aluminum trim that the fiber cement panels slide into. The reveal system provides a nice architectural look to the exterior while also acting as a channel for moving water away from the fiber cement panels.


In a rainscreen system, the cladding sits off of the exterior of the house. Here is the technical definition according to Wikipedia, “A rainscreen is an exterior wall detail where the siding (wall cladding) stands off from the moisture-resistant surface of an air barrier applied to the sheathing (sheeting) to create a capillary break and to allow drainage and evaporation.”

Handling of fiber cement

Fiber cement can be a little difficult to work with due to the weight, especially the panels. Panels come in 4 ft by 8 ft sheets that weigh 75+ pounds. So handle with care. Cutting it is not too bad, it is recommended that a Polycrystalline Diamond blade is used. We have used both a PCD blade and a carbide blade and both performed well.

More Photos

Metal Cladding

There is a variety of metal cladding. There are metal panels that give modern exteriors that architectural block look, much the same way fiber cement panels can with a reveal or rainscreen system.  Corrugated aluminum sheeting is finding its way as a modern exterior cladding and being mixed with other forms of cladding mentioned in this article. I have found that the metal panels, especially with the reveal or architectural block, are a little harder to find. Here are a few companies I have found online.

Polystyrene Cladding

Polystyrene cladding (extruded plastic) is an alternative to fiber cement.  It is used in much the same way fiber cement is used in a reveal or rainscreen system. It is bug resistant, rot resistant and impact resistant. From what I understand the polystyrene has a flame retardant mixed in so it is flame resistant. Had I known about this option before we started working on our siding I would have evaluated this more closely. There was a job site here in town that used these panels on the building that they were building. Polystyrene cladding can be purchased in pre-molded colors or it can be painted.  Most of the manufacturers I have found in an internet search are Australian companies.



Here are some images of a new modern design building in Knoxville, that is using polystyrene paneling with a rainscreen system.

Corten Cladding

I could have put the Corten cladding under metal cladding but I think it is one of the coolest modern exterior claddings being used. It is expensive, heavy and takes some metal working knowledge, but it is perfect for a modern, rustic, industrial look. The panels are steel and made specifically for a rusty modern industrial look. The panel faces rust providing a beautiful copper color.

Photo Gallery


And there you have it,  5 Cladding ideas to give your exterior a modern vibe. All 5 of the cladding ideas provided can be and are being mixed together to create that modern exterior look. So, there may be a wall with fiber cement panels and the next wall is a facade with wood cladding or a wall with corrugated metal cladding and a wall done in corten steel panels. If you like this post or found it helpful please share this post. Thank you.