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Siding 101: How to talk about siding like a pro.

Home Exterior Tips · May 30, 2023

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What is fascia?

Fascia is the band that runs horizontally under the roof line (edge of your roof). On a house, it is the fascia that usually caps the ends of rafters and sometimes holds the gutters. This piece closes up any access to your attic space directly below the roof line. Sometimes there are decorative pieces added at the top of the fascia board called moulding.


What is a frieze?

A frieze is a decorative, horizontal band that is on the exterior walls of a building or house. It is typically directly below the soffit


What is soffit?

Soffit is the underside of any construction element. Most commonly it is used to describe the materials used to cover the exposed surface beneath the overhang of a roof. There are multiple styles and materials that can be used for your soffit ranging from solid vinyl soffit panels to vented composite soffit panels.


What are gables?

A gable is the triangular portion of a wall between the edges of a dual-pitched roof. Sometimes this is referred to as the A frame of a house.


What is house wrap?

House wrap, otherwise known as weather barrier or vapor barrier, covers a structure's exterior prior to the installation of siding. It prevents any water from getting into the walls, while allowing water vapor to escape from the interior. It is an integral part of a siding system and should never be reused or skipped during the installation process.


What are battens?

Battens are vertical trim strips on panel siding at regular intervals to cover joints and create an architectural aesthetic. Battens are a critical part of the farmhouse look. Board & batten vinyl siding comes as one piece and does not need any additional trim strips installed.


What is blind nailing and face nailing? 

There are two general ways to secure lap siding to the wall. They are blind nailing and face nailing. Blind nailing is when the fastener drives through the top of the plank, while in face nailing the fastener drives through the overlap at the bottom of the plank. Blind nailing is recommended for James Hardie siding, but face nailing is occasionally required for certain installations.


What is lap siding?

One of the most popular and commonly used siding styles is lap siding, also called clapboard. It is any type of siding installed horizontally on your home. The siding is installed from the bottom up so each panel overlaps the course below it. This type of siding comes in many different textures and colors.


What is panel siding?

Panel siding is long, tall boards that come in a variety of textures. This type of siding is commonly used with batten strips, but it can also be used on its own.

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What is shingle siding?

Traditionally, shingle siding, sometimes also called shake siding, is individual cuts of wood of varying widths. Modern shingle siding comes in materials such as vinyl or fiber cement and is often manufactured in panels, which helps make it easier to install while maintain the traditional aesthetic.


What is dutchlap siding?

Dutch lap siding is the same as standard lap siding, but there is some added dimension and curb appeal.  As far as the quality of materials, as long as you are choosing the same type of material, there is no difference between lap and Dutch lap siding.


What is profile?

The siding profile is the contour or outline of a siding panel as it is viewed from the side.


What is siding exposure?

The exposure, also known as reveal, is the visible space between the bottoms of adjacent rows of siding. This term is most frequently used when describing lap siding. Exposure differs from the total height of the siding planks because rows of siding will slightly overlap each other during installation.


Other terms to know:

Backerboard - flat material used on the face of the house, applied between the studs and the siding (or over existing wall surface), to provide an even surface for installing vinyl siding.

Buttlock - the bottom edge of siding or soffit panel, or accessory piece, opposite the nailing slots, which locks onto the preceding panel.

Channel - the area of the accessory trim or corner post where siding or soffit panels are inserted. Channels also refer to the trim itself and are named for the letters of the alphabet they resemble (ex. J-channel, F-channel, etc.).

Course - a row of panels, one panel wide, running the length of the house from one side to the other, or, in the case of vertical siding, from top to bottom.

Drip cap - and accessory installed with vertical siding to ensure that water drips away from panels and does not infiltrate them.

Double channel lineal - a siding accessory that joins two soffit panels.

Face - refers to the side of a siding or soffit panel that is showing once the panel has been installed.

Flashing - a thin, flat material that meets the requirements of ICC AC148, positioned under or behind J-channels, corner posts, windows, etc., to keep draining water from penetrating the home.

Furring/furring strip - usually a wood 1” x 2” (25.4mm x 50.8mm) strip used to even a surface in preparation for installing vinyl siding. To “fur” a surface means to apply these strips.

Lap - to overlap the ends of two siding panels or accessory pieces to allow for expansion and contraction of the vinyl product.

Lug/Crimp - the raised “ears” or tabs on a siding panel, created by a snap lock punch, which can be used to lock a siding panel into place when the nailing hem has been removed.

Miter - to make a diagonal cut, beveled to a specific angle (usually 45°). Sometimes miter cuts are made into an overlapping siding or soffit panel surface, to provide a neater appearance.

Nail Hem (or Flange) - the section of siding or accessories where the nailing slots are located.

Nailing Strip - an additional framing member installed to facilitate soffit installation.

Nail Hole Slot Punch - punches elongated holes to allow nailing the cut edge of a vinyl siding panel.

Plumb - a position or measurement that is truly and exactly vertical, 90° from a level surface.

Rake (roof) - the inclined, usually projecting edge of a sloping roof.

Rake (wall) - the board or molding placed along the sloping sides of a gable to cover the ends of the siding.

Scoring - running a utility knife blade, sharpened awl, scoring tool, or other sharp implement across a soffit or siding panel face without cutting all the way through the panel. This weakens the vinyl siding surface in a specific area and allows the panel to be bent and broken off cleanly.

Sealant - any of a variety of compounds used to fill or seal joints in wood, metal, masonry, vinyl, and other materials.

Shim - a building material used to even a surface prior to installing vinyl siding.

Snap Lock Punch - tool used to make dents on vinyl siding. 

Starter Strip - an accessory applied directly to the surface of the building and used to secure the first course of siding to the home.

Utility Trim - a piece of trim used any time the top lock has been removed from the siding, to secure a siding panel. Also referred to as “undersill” or “finish” trim; double utility trim is also available.

Weep Holes - openings cut into siding or accessories to allow for water runoff.

Zip Lock Tool - also known as an unlocking tool.

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