cladding is any material used to cover a structure’s exterior. Picture a protective layer over a surface like a roof or exterior wall. Just as your skin protects internal bones and organs, cladding protects against the elements and shields against environmental conditions.
Cladding doesn’t have to be waterproof, but it often controls how elements hit or fall on a surface. Think about how a raincoat allows rain to slide off of you rather than soaking your clothing. Cladding can also serve a decorative function, to hide a more structural but perhaps not attractive substrate (which is stronger material that underlies a surface and acts as a stabilizer).