Waterboards (the lowest board of a house with horiz clapboards)

Regarding what I believe are called waterboards; the bottom most board where a house has the typical horizontal wood clapboards:
- do these really serve any purpose ?
- seems to me that they would collect more water when it rains, and be more of a problem than not having them ? Not having them would, I think, allow the water to run down off of the clapboards to the ground a lot easier, and not provide any collection points. True ?
- if you do have them, is metal flashing used behind them ?
The one adv. I can think of, perhaps, is that they would allow the wood to come down a bit lower and overlap the foundation /sill a bit ? And, decoration, I guess.
Used much anymore (New England) ?
Any thoughts would be most appreciated ?
Thanks, B.
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As in all construction, everything is in the details. If you build it poorly, no matter how nice it looks, it won't last long. Those boards go by a lot of names: water table boards, aprons, water boards and are primarily a nice architectural element. They're not limited to use with clapboards, should always have flashing below and can be made from something like Azek (expanded PVC wood substitute lumber), so rot is virtually eliminated. Azek holds paint beautifully, which considering the location and exposure, is of prime (pun not intended) importance.
R
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Here's an example that omits the flashing. http://www.hammerzone.com/archives/exterior/trim/water_table/pvc.htm In some situations I might use Ice & Water Shield (or approved equal), but I'd always put something back there.
R
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