Cladding: When externals matter

on 01 July, 2013

The aesthetics and external appearance of any structure are as important as the strength and durability of the main structure of a building. Once the basic structure and the ceiling and walls are ready, an architect will switch focus to the finishing of the external and internal walls. This is referred to as cladding. There are various kinds of cladding materials that can be used to add character and a unique look to any structure.

Timber
This material is a favourite with many architects. It is versatile and looks very natural. It also has insulation properties and is harvested from sustainable sources. It is definitely an environment-friendly choice for use in any home.

Stone
Stone is another natural material that is used in many forms in numerous structures. Grainy sandstone, smooth granite, the sheen of slate and textured marble can all be used to provide exterior finishes that not only look good but are strong and low maintenance as well. However, stone does not possess any insulation properties and the moisture that gets trapped between stone cladding and the foundation material can make it very cold.

Weatherboard
This is a very popular cladding material. It may be made of timber, fibre cement or reconstituted hardwood. Weatherboard is a cost-effective cladding material, is easily available, installation is simple and it is also very low-maintenance. On the other hand, the other materials will need to be serviced on a regular basis.

Vinyl
This material is very low-maintenance, economical and recyclable. Another advantage of vinyl cladding is that it is available in numerous shades and colours and thus can be matched to any décor. It also offers a certain amount of insulation.

Metal
This is a very versatile material. Metal cladding may be made either of aluminium or steel. Its pliability makes it possible to weave and shape it to create dramatic architectural effects. Metal cladding can be used both indoors and outdoors. The mesh can be installed very easily and is durable as well. It can be sculpted, textured and rendered to create designs and effects that can make a modern building look stunningly attractive. The two chemical processes that are used to treat metal are called galvanizing and anodizing. These protect metal from moisture and the elements and make it very low-maintenance as well. An innovative new glass-metal product called “Vitramesh” creates a heady mix of the colour of metal and the versatility of glass. The design possibilities with this kind of cladding are unending.

Concrete
This material is available in panel form and is very low-maintenance. It looks sleek, minimalistic and contemporary. It also has insulation properties and can be moulded to give it a natural finish.

Brick
Coloured bricks are now available in various styles. They can be used as textured surfaces or can be rendered for smoother ones. A final coat of paint and you have a well-insulated wall that looks amazingly attractive.

The cladding material you use will be largely dependent on an architect’s rendering of the final design, concept behind the rest of the structure, the climate that it is going to weather and the budget that has been allocated for it. A mix-and-match of materials may also be used to create unique designs and façades.

This article has been produced on behalf of Cadisch MDA, UK supplier of architectural metal from a single bespoke panel to large metal cladding projects. http://www.cadischmda.com/architectural-metal-cladding/

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