History Of Vinyl Siding

The history of vinyl siding begins with the history of home building. At first people just lived in caves. Then they wanted more cave room. So they ventured out into the forest and thought about cutting down some trees and stacking them one on top of each other.  Houses made from trees or logs. If you wanted a big house just cut down some really big trees.

When the first colonist came to America from Europe, they had already developed home building skills from hundreds of years experience. They had learned to make stone houses, log houses, castles and many other types of structures.

The early settlers needed housing quickly they turned to the most common building material in the area, trees.  They just chopped the trees down and made log cabins. 

Log cabins were strong, weather tight, and easy to build because of all the abundant trees growing in the area. All you needed were some strong men with a few axes.

The settlers needed to clear the land so they could plant their crops. So cutting down the trees to make houses also created new ground to plant crops. Two problems solved.

As more and more people came, they needed more and more trees. The first log homes used large trees cut down and staked on top of each other. Crude but it worked very well. 

As the settlers used more and more of the trees, they decided that they could saw the trees into planks and get enough planks from just a few trees to build several houses. By sawing trees into long thin boards they could build twice as many houses from the same amount of trees.

This could be the first 'green' movement.

Some of the people coming to America were from England where ship building had been around for centuries.  Ship builders were very good at using planks of wood nailed to a frame to make strong ships.  

So they adapted the ship building techniques to home building.  They used boards to make the house frames and then nailed long planks of wood to the frames.  It looked like the side of the old wooden sailing ships. This became know as the ship-lap technique.  And the nailing of long horizontal boards on houses became known as 'ship lap' siding or just 'lap' siding.

Today's clapboard style of siding has it's roots from this style of building houses



Since most houses were one story, people nailed the long smooth planks horizontally onto the home from end to end. It was quite an improvement from the first log cabins and was not as wasteful. 


This became the most common type of exterior cladding for hundreds of years.

As more and more houses were built, some people wanted to do something extra or special to make their house look different from all the others.

So they began to hand carve notches along the top and bottom edges of the long wooden boards or planks. It the notch was on the top of the board they called it 'dutch lap' siding

It the notch was on the bottom edge of the board they called it 'beaded' siding.


Then people wanted to do something even more different. So they nailed long wooded planks up and down, vertically.

They would cut large planks of wood and nail them vertically from top to bottom or vertically. Since each of the long planks were not exactly the same width, after they nailed them onto the house they would nail a small wooden batten where the two planks came together to cover the cracks up to make the house more weather tight. Hence the term board and batten.


As people wanted more and more choices they started to install the wooden planks both vertically and horizontally. And began to add more and more profiles, or the way the siding boards look on the house.

As time went on, wood siding became the most common exterior siding. 

Cedar siding has been the wood siding of choice for hundreds of years because of its natural beauty and low maintenance.

It has a high resistance to insects, decay, weather, and is superior to all other woods when it comes to warping.

It has outstanding insulating qualities and is considered to be one of the best thermal insulators of any available woods.

About 50 years ago, wood siding had become very expensive to buy, and required a lot of maintenance such as painting, and repairing water and insect damage.

Then in the early 1960's, vinyl came out and quickly replaced wooden siding.

There was such a demand that the manufacturers recreated the many different types of wood siding such as clapboard, Dutch-Lap and yes even cedar. Today you can get a wide range of different types, colors, and styles. Choices that are almost unlimited in color, textures and styles.

Vinyl siding that looks like wood:

Vinyl siding can be made to look like cedar, pine, or many other types of wood. It can be painted most any color if needed, and is relatively maintenance free, insect repellent, water resistant, will not rot, fade, or splinter.  It is adaptable to most any climate and is one of the best methods of weather proofing you home.  

And it costs a fraction of what real cedar, and cedar logs would cost.  Much easier to install, and you avoid all the staining,

sealing, and yearly maintenance required for real wood siding.

The time tested rustic look of log siding is now also available in vinyl log siding.  Now you can get the rustic look of log siding or cedar shake siding without the expense and maintenance of real wood.



 To see more information on today's vinyl sidings, click here  Vinyl Siding Institute of America    



As more and more people began to cut down the trees, they figured that if they sawed long wooden planks out of the logs they could get a lot more wood out of the logs.

So they cut logs and used the long wooden planks to cover their houses and barns.  It also helped protect the houses from the harsh winter winds.

The early colonist either nailed the wooden boards horizontal, called lap board or clapboard, or they nailed the boards vertically.

Vertical siding is called Board and Batten Siding. They would nail two boards up on the house and nail a small thin strip of wood, a 'batten', between the boards to make it weather tight. Hence the term 'board and batten' siding.

People who liked the rustic look of Cedar cut the Cedar into small shakes and used them to cover their houses.  

Houses were warmer and they cut down less trees.  A great solution to the housing problem!

Today's vinyl siding looks just like real wood, doesn't rot, termites won't eat it, requires very little maintenance and up-keep, doesn't need to be painted like real wood.


One of the reasons people love vinyl siding is that it is so easy to work with.

You can easily install vinyl siding over most existing home exteriors such as brick, stucco and wood. Usually with just a little prep-work to your house.

You may need to remove the existing exterior in some cases.  This will result in an additional cost to you. You should ask your contractor to explain if he suggests removing it.

Once you choose the way you want your house to look, picking the right vinyl siding is as easy as going shopping for the perfect color, texture and style that you like. 

Today's vinyl siding is made to look just like the old colonial plank siding used so many hundreds of years ago. A classic look to modern homes. At a fraction of the cost of real wood. And yet it is hard to tell the difference between two by looking. 

Even in the colonial times only three basic siding types were used. The siding either runs horizontally or vertically. And then the Cedar Shake Sidings.

Each of the three different types can be used and generally are used together to create that special look. Mixing and matching types, colors and textures for a unique and personal style.

To see more information on Types of Vinyl Siding,  click here.


How to buy vinyl siding...where to begin...click here 


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