Guide to Choosing External Cladding Material

When embarking on a self-build, renovation, or an extension, the choice of external cladding can significantly influence the aesthetic and practicality of your property. From the onset, it’s crucial to consider how your cladding will interact with other elements such as windows, doors, and the scale of the walls. Your home’s appearance is pivotal; whether you desire a standout architectural feature or a subtle façade that harmonises with its surroundings, every decision matters.

Selecting suitable materials is especially important, as not all cladding withstands the unique challenges posed by different environments. For instance, homes in coastal or riverside settings demand robust options that can resist moisture, while high sun exposure may alter the appearance of certain materials over time. While brick, stone, and composite materials are typically low-maintenance, opting for timber or metal may offer a more natural, evolving charm, although with varying maintenance needs.

Cladding that presents a seamless appearance generally requires less upkeep, yet more intricate designs with numerous connections could necessitate increased care to retain their condition.

Essential Factors in Selecting House Cladding

Selecting the appropriate cladding for your house is a significant decision that can impact both the functionality and the visual charm of your home. Consider the following points when deciding on the right cladding for your project:

  • Strength of Structure: Verify that your building has the capacity to support the weight of the cladding. The method of attachment, whether visible or hidden, also has implications for both aesthetics and cost.
  • Cladding Lifespan: Assess how long the cladding material will last before needing replacement. Moreover, reflect on its recyclability once its service life has ended, as this will affect your carbon footprint and your home’s sustainability profile.
  • Budgeting Wisely: Collaborate with your designer to balance the budget. More affordable materials can be used predominantly, while reserving premium materials for special accents. Each type of cladding, from render and brick to metal and timber or even porcelain, carries different cost implications.
  • Aesthetic Impact: Exterior cladding can greatly enhance the visual appeal of your residence. Materials such as natural stone, although more expensive and labour-intensive, offer exceptional aesthetic value.
  • Local Regulations: Always consider the local planning authority’s regulations. For renovations, slight modifications might be permissible, yet significant changes often necessitate planning approval.
  • Historical Preservation: Living in a conservation area or owning a listed property imposes additional constraints on material choice to ensure consistency with the local architectural style.
  • Compliance with Standards: Engage with building control, particularly when cladding covers a substantial portion of the building. Updates to thermal elements may necessitate additional insulation to meet building regulations, and fire safety standards must always be adhered to.

When making these decisions, factor in:

  • Durability: Opt for materials that withstand adverse weather conditions, including heavy rain and strong winds, extending the lifespan of your cladding.
  • Maintenance: Choose options that align with your readiness to undertake maintenance tasks. Some materials demand more upkeep to preserve their appearance and integrity.
  • Insulation and Moisture Protection: High-quality cladding can provide added insulation to your home, reducing your energy consumption. It also serves as a crucial barrier against moisture, helping to protect the core structure from potential damage.
  • Eco-friendliness: If environmental conservation matters to you, seek cladding that has a minimal environmental impact in terms of manufacturing processes and materials used, such as certified timber (look for FSC) or recyclable components.
  • Project-Specific Features: Consider the architectural style and period of your home, ensuring that the cladding complements the existing features for a coherent look.

By considering these key factors, you can make an informed decision about which house cladding will best meet your needs, both in terms of performance and aesthetics.

Best External Cladding Materials to Use

Wood Cladding

Wood cladding offers an array of striking exterior appearances to buildings, incorporating different orientations, profiles and textures. It includes horizontal and vertical arrangements, shiplap cladding, slatted or scalloped-edge styles, and notable shingle patterns. Shou Sugi Ban, a method of burning wood to achieve a charred finish, is gaining popularity for its bold and contemporary look.

For an eye-catching feature, consider Larch cladding with varying board sizes and patterns. Larch can also be fashioned into privacy screens as seen in some innovative designs. The aesthetic compatibility of woody materials with brick or stone enhances visual appeal, while pairing with metals like zinc can give a more modern, industrial edge.

When planning your cladding, take into account the layout direction. Horizontal cladding typically requires a single vertical batten, whereas for vertical cladding, you’ll need a counter batten as well, which may incur additional costs.

Metal Cladding

Metal elements such as steel, aluminium, zinc, and copper offer sleek accents to modernise a building’s exterior. Recognised for their durability, these materials are designed to withstand harsh elements, requiring minimal upkeep. Coating options are available, but even in their natural state, certain metals like zinc and copper gracefully age, acquiring a distinctive patina.

Cladding with these materials allows for a diverse range of textures and appearances:

  • Customisation: Varying finishes can be applied for distinct effects.
  • Weight: Metals are generally lightweight, facilitating easier installation.
  • Versatility: Systems can be layered for added design complexity or functionality, such as sun shielding.

Pricing for high-quality metal cladding systems, such as Anthra-zinc Plus standing seam solutions, is estimated at £150-200 per square metre, exclusive of additional components like rainwater systems.

Metals pair well with a multitude of other materials including slate, stone, brick, or timber. Notably:

  • Placement: Typically, metal is installed above timber to prevent staining from water-soluble extracts.
  • Compatibility: Always consult with a cladding specialist to ensure material interactions won’t compromise the aesthetic or integrity of the structure.

Options for External Brickwork

Brickwork as an external finish can be far more versatile than the traditional styles many associate with construction. Discover an array of options that might add a touch of distinction to your dwelling.

  • Brick Slips: These are akin to tiles, rather than conventional bricks, which allows you to arrange them in numerous patterns. The usual straight-run bond is not your only choice; consider stretcher, Flemish or English bond utilising half-tiles or opt for intricate herringbone or basketweave designs. The utility of the mortar with brick slips is purely visual, affording you wide-ranging creative freedom.
  • Design Potential: Your home can don a unique appearance using different designs of brick slips. They are not merely functional but can be selected to make a bold statement or complement your home’s stylistic theme. For more design inspiration, explore various ways to incorporate masonry into your project.
  • Installation Details: It’s reported that fitting brick slips can be a swift process, typically taking about half an hour per square metre. However, this may extend with specially crafted or irregularly shaped slips and with the incorporation of more complicated patterns.
  • Professional Help: For detailed patterns, consider hiring a professional tiler. Otherwise, a competent bricklayer or tradesperson should suffice for installation.
  • Colour and Texture: Experiment with colours and textures. For instance, a Victorian property’s exterior was recently enhanced with glazed brick slips in a striking Midnight shade, achieving a significant transformation within a reasonable budget.
  • Traditional Bricks: Besides the innovative brick slips, there’s an abundance of traditional brick choices available, from sleek modern profiles to richly textured, handmade varieties, suitable for various architectural expressions.

When exploring brick as an option for your home’s facade, remember that there are many alternatives beyond the classic brick wall, each with its unique appeal and method of installation.

Exterior Tiling

Porcelain or ceramic tiles offer excellent durability, impermeability, and come in a diverse array of styles, colours, and textures. They can be adeptly used in both contemporary designs, as well as to imitate the appearance of roughly cut stone.

For covering substantial outdoor spaces, panelled porcelain tiles are highly effective, creating a seamless look of vertical panels. Alternatively, for detailed patterns, consider smaller tiles, such as those with a metro-style.

It’s crucial to consider the cladding’s weight before installation. Ensure the existing walls can support the weight, especially if the tiles are to be applied above the ground level. For such applications, secure the tiles with mechanical fixings for added safety and stability.

Key Considerations:

  • Check wall strength for weight support.
  • Use mechanical fixings above ground floor.
  • Variety in textures and sizes cater to different aesthetics.

UPVC Cladding

When considering a facelift for your home’s exterior, UPVC cladding presents a noteworthy option. This material is prized for its ease of upkeep and variety of available styles and colours. It is both durable and cost-effective, often proving to be a prudent investment due to its potential to last upwards of 30 years.

However, choosing a high-quality cladding is paramount. Inferior products may lead to undesirable outcomes like fading, deformation, and cracks, particularly under harsh weather conditions. The superior variants of UPVC cladding are designed to withstand adverse elements, ensuring enduring aesthetic appeal and functionality.

Enhancing Your Home with Exterior Rendering

Applying exterior render offers a transformative facelift to your property. Much like its interior counterpart, the process involves layering material—typically by hand, akin to plastering, or through a more modern spraying method. The finish can range from smooth to textured, catering to your design preferences.

Modern systems, such as the silicone-based solutions, are noteworthy for their ease of installation and minimal upkeep. The key advantage is their through-colour, which stands up to the elements without the need for frequent repainting.

In the realm of self-build projects, these newer render choices are gaining traction for their swift application process and durability. An example is the pioneering work of Baufritz, who apply contemporary, mineral-based render in factory settings which is then used in the construction of timber frame domiciles, ensuring a high-quality finish.

While tackling exterior rendering might be tempting for the hands-on homeowner, professional expertise is paramount for achieving a flawless exterior. Modern rendering demands precision, making skilled tradespeople an invaluable resource.

Should you seek heightened thermal efficiency, consider external wall insulation underneath your chosen render. This not only enhances warmth but also elevates comfort within your home—choices include specialist renders with thermal properties. A typical installation spans around three days.

For a professional cladding installation, please contact our team to request a free quote and consultation today.

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