Everything you need to know about exterior cladding

The overcoat to your home, this important external layer is what gives the house its character

Wall cladding

Cladding is the skin of your house – it’s the outer layer that helps to insulate and protect it from the elements, and it enhances your home’s appearance, too. Brick, stone and render are familiar options, with timber weatherboarding, vertical tiling, flint, metal and modern synthetic materials used less frequently.

Multiple materials

It has become quite fashionable to use more than one cladding material – this could take the form of combining timber with render or brickwork panels, to something altogether more modern. That said, the more finishes you add, the more complex your design becomes. Not only will you need to buy relatively small quantities of materials, and possibly employ several different trades, but junctions between materials will need to be considered, too.

Rules & regulations

You don’t usually need to apply for planning permission for repairs, maintenance or minor improvements, such as painting your house, but if you live in a sensitive location such as a conservation area, you will need permission before completely changing the cladding. If you want to re-render or replace timber cladding to external walls, building regulations may also apply depending on the extent of the work. Cladding can contribute to the spread of fire, so always liaise with building control and planners for advice.

Material options

Exposed bricks are the most popular choice, but how they’re made will affect their look, qualities and price. Your bricklayer should discuss bonding patterns, mortar colours and joint details with you.

This natural material isn’t a budget option, but there are less expensive artificial or reconstituted alternatives available, too.

Timber cladding
While timber needs more maintenance than stone or brickwork, it is cheaper. Oak and cedar may be left untreated to weather to a silver-grey, while softwood boarding usually needs painting or staining.

Eco-friendly and entirely natural, wood is a flexible element to work with, whether you are incorporating it into an interior, using it as an exterior façade or refreshing original wooden features. But it can also present difficulties – internally, an over-abundance can become oppressive and can darken a scheme, while externally, the look can be heavy on the eye. Combining wood with materials such as stone, steel, render or glass, will counter this. The overall result will be a home that is more likely to blend with its environment and will breathe naturally within its surroundings. This is a popular approach for new-builds, creating an organic, weathered, not-too-new look. Shiplap is a popular style if you’re trying to recreate the authenticity of a country-style barn.

Composite weatherboard
Although composite weatherboarding usually costs more than timber, it is often pre-finished, will not warp or twist and is extremely fire resistant.

Zinc, copper, stainless steel or aluminium are ideal for modern builds, as they’re striking, malleable and lightweight. They’re also quick to put up and are highly resilient.

Choosing render

The most common term for an external plastered finish, render can hide a multitude of sins and protect the walls. Leave it to the experts though, as a smooth finish can be difficult to master. Render is traditionally built up in two or three coats, which are less likely to develop surface cracks. The undercoat smooths out the wall’s surface and forms a strong bond, while top coats create the finish. There are additional specialist products to choose from, including through-coloured silicone renders and one-coat renders. Now, coloured choices come with the pigment locked in, which colours the entire render and not just the surface. Insulated render is ideal for both new builds and refurbishment projects – visit inca-ltd.org.uk for advice.

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