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Exterior Wall Cladding

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The term 'cladding' is an encompassing one and can be interpreted depending upon the context of its use. In general, cladding refers to the covering of one material with another.


In building terminology, cladding is a non-structural material, a protective layer or covering that is fixed on the outer surface of a building or a structure to protect against moisture and foreign elements. Often in building construction, cladding or application of one material over another is done.


Cladding is both protective and decorative at once. Most of the times, cladding is intended to control the infiltration of weather elements. It is also done for aesthetic purposes.


However, cladding does not necessarily have to provide a waterproof condition but it is a control element. The control element has the capacity to safely direct water or air in order to control run off and prevent any possible infiltration into any building.


Cladding is also applied to windows. It is called window cladding which in itself is a specialized area.


Why cladding?

  • Cladding systems insulate against weather and can be installed on the walls or roof of a building.

  • Some cladding systems specifically protect against fire damage.

  • Cladding, as such, can be used against existing surfaces such as brick, fibre, timer or cement blocks. It can also be installed over existing weather boards.

  • Cladding, once installed is most of the times, maintenance free. All cladding types come with a lifetime warranty, lasting even up to fifty years depending upon the type of material used.

  • Cladding can be aesthetically appealing and comes in a wide range of colors. They can be painted regularly, such as those made from timber.

  • Cladding can also resist moisture, termites and fire. However, regular pest control has to be undertaken in order to protect the internal structure of the house.

  • Cladding is easy to work with and install, and it should take two to five days on an average for a house to be completely cladded.


Cladding is normally undertaken by the manufacturer. Sometimes companies handle the job. However, even carpenters can perform the work.


Exterior and interior wall cladding

Cladding as an additional layer of protection or insulation can be carried out on the exterior or interior of buildings. In some markets, it is known as siding and it is available in metal, stone, timber, PVC or even vinyl form.


The term external cladding refers to another layer of protection or insulation material that is fixed on the exterior walls of buildings. A wide range of material can be used in external cladding including treated steel, aluminum, timer, stone, vinyl and PVC.


Exterior cladding is often done on windows, doors, roofs, and chimneys where there is fear of moisture infiltration as a potential threat.


The external appearance of the house/building is enhanced with different materials lending quite a different character to the building. The color of the material also contributes to the overall effects of external cladding.


External cladding provides effective insulation, enhances the value and appearance of the house, and reduces the cost of maintenance. It is also an energy cost saver.


Interior cladding is specified depending upon the various parts of a home. PVC cladding is done for wet rooms such as bathroom where moisture and related problems such as mold and damp can be an important issue.


The cladding material used for interior cladding can be made to appear like mosaic, marble or a variety of timber finishes. Specially created wood claddings for interior made by experts, enhance any interior space. These units are easy to install and come in a fine finish.


Interior floor cladding can be done in tiles form that is available in a wide range of species, colors and grains. The pleasing natural finish of these floors adds beautiful touch to the décor.


Insulation properties, low maintenance cost and high durability are some of the salient features of these interior cladding systems.


Materials used in cladding

  • Timber, which is a versatile product that will need sealing or treatment for extended durability.

  • Natural stone which lends any building its character

  • Steel, which is extremely durable and is available in a range of colors.

  • Vinyl/ PVC which are materials that offer excellent durability and insulation capacity

  • Aluminum, that is light and durable though expensive

  • Polystyrene which can be treated by acrylic and fiberglass mesh.


Stone wall cladding


Natural stone wall cladding is used for outdoor and indoor wall applications. Stone wall cladding gives outdoor and indoor area an everlasting yet modern ambience. It is perfect for architectural and landscaping needs. Stone wall cladding adds vigor to the surrounding, due to its textural and color distinctions of stone.


As the name suggests, stone cladding is a thin layer of stone/simulated stone that is applied to a building or any other structure made of a material that is other than stone. Contemporary stone cladding are dexterously crafted and they exhibit perfect carving and elaborate handwork.


There are several instances of stone cladding applied to steel and concrete buildings as part of the original architectural design. But when stone cladding is used indiscriminately, for instance in brick built homes, it is regarded as inappropriate as the properties appear out of character with their surroundings.


Stone cladding has the property to insulate against noise and weather. Although stone cladding complements any surrounding, it can be quite expensive, although simulated stone is cheaper, and is more labor intensive than other types of cladding.


Plastic wall cladding

Plastic wall cladding is an alternative to aluminum, fiber cement and timber sidings. External plastic wall cladding is used for weather protection for walls. Wall cladding made of PVC can protect walls not only against dampness but also against breakdown from UV light.


Accumulated dirt can be cleaned away much more easily from a plastic surface compared to brick and wood wall claddings. Therefore plastic wall cladding is easier to keep and looks new for longer. Plastic wall cladding needs no painting and can simply be cleaned using water and mild detergent.


In the US, it is Vinyl siding that predominates as exterior wall material, while PVC cladding is a suitable alternative to aluminum, fiber cement and timber sidings. Plastic wall cladding resists heat, cold and dampness. Standardized siding can withstand hurricane winds up to 110 mph and more.


Plastic wall cladding is most economical considering the material, labor and finishing cost. While it is true that plastic wall cladding is less recyclable, it does not cause pollution like painting or staining and consumes less energy than aluminum siding.


Plastic wall cladding is also available for interiors. Plastic claddings are hygienic and the different colors and patterns provide the decorative effect. Again, plastic wall claddings are easy to fix as they come with profile joints and edge trims. As they come with installation guides, they allow DIY experts to do the fixing job themselves.


Plastic wall claddings are growing in popularity due to their smooth finish, low maintenance care and durability. Such plastic wall claddings are used in bathrooms, kitchens, wash rooms, ceilings and exteriors.


Bathroom wall cladding

Tiles are used for bathroom wall cladding but they require for the wall to be flat. A fair amount of skill is required to achieve satisfactory results with tiles. Whereas, paint and other wall papers tend to struggle in the humid bathroom conditions. Pine cladding can be done but it requires special maintenance. Pine is the cladding available other than plastic for wall cladding in bathrooms.


Plastic is virtually maintenance free and can be interlocked using the tongue and groove system similar to traditional cladding. This kind of cladding can be directly stuck on the wall making installation extremely easy.


Other types of cladding

An overview of the most common types of cladding (other than stone and plastic) reveals the one that could be most suitable.


  • Weatherboard cladding is made of timber, reconstituted hardwood, fiber cement and vinyl. Weatherboard can be fixed to all kinds of substrates. Timber and weatherboards need periodic maintenance, whereas vinyl weatherboards have practically zero maintenance.

  • Timber cladding is the most popular as it suits the styles and looks of home décor more than any other material. Timber cladding comes in horizontal boards, shingles or panels. Timber is environment friendly and sustainable timber is a good natural insulator as well.

  • Vinyl cladding requires practically no maintenance. Vinyl suits all kinds of homes and comes in a wide range of colors. It is also economical. Vinyl is recyclable and fewer resources are used in its manufacturing.

  • Fiber cement cladding is made by compressing sand, cement and cellular fiber into sheets. This appears like wood but is lighter, easier to install and requires less maintenance.

  • Foam cladding is known as external insulated finish system and made from expanded polystyrene. This comes in panel form, easy to install and is extremely rough and water resistant. It is also extremely energy efficient.

  • Metal cladding is either made of steel or aluminum cladding. This metal is protected through anodizing, galvanizing or powder coating. This is available in many color schemes. A range of looks can be created using metal cladding such as sleek flat panels or corrugated looks. Metal cladding has very low maintenance.

  • Concrete cladding is a relatively newer type of cladding and it comes in panel or tile form. It is the choice of those who prefer sleek modern looks that resemble natural materials such as stone. Patterns can be created using concrete cladding; this is incredibly strong and durable and also requires low maintenance.

  • Brick cladding can create a variety of looks and patterns just by using different colored bricks. Bricks are lightweight, easy to work with and are great insulators. It also does not need much maintenance.

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