It's a common question and it comes in different forms and thus has different answers: "For exterior wall applications, can you install cedar shingles over vinyl siding? Over fiber cement siding? Brick?"
Cedar shingles can improve the look of an existing wall--but it doesn't go over everything. In some cases, you can install cedar but you need to make special preparations before installing the cedar.
Masonry (i.e. Brick)?
Yes. First, install wood furring strips to nail the cedar shingles onto. Furring strips help prevent water from migrating from the brick to the back side of the shake shingles. They also provide a flat surface for installing the cedar shingles.
Yes. If the clapboard is in good condition and flat, you can nail directly onto it with no furring strips. Otherwise, add furring strips.
Fiber Cement Siding Such as Hardie Plank?
Yes. Apply as you would for wood clapboard siding, except furring strips are advisable. Fiber cement is a mineral-based product and moisture can wick onto the back side of the shingles.
Flat Wood Siding Such as Exterior Grade Plywood?
Yes. Even though this is a retro-fit, treat this as you would a new-wall installation. Apply type 30 felt underlayment and then nail directly onto the material.
Yes. First, install wood furring strips to nail the cedar shingles onto.
No. Vinyl siding is too flimsy and will not allow for the cedar to be securely nailed.
No. As with vinyl, aluminum does not provide a firm nailing surface.