Rendering a house – everything you need to know

Looking to cover your brickwork with a render? Here's the lowdown on this popular exterior finish.

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. Of the many option – which also include brick, weatherboarding and vertical tiling – render is one of the most popular.

Related: Exterior cladding – everything you need to know

Read on to discover everything you’ll need to know about rendering a house.

1. What is render?

Rendering-a-house-4

Render is a plastered finish for external walls that gives a smooth finish and protects brickwork against the elements. Traditionally, it’s built up in two or three coats, which makes it less likely that surface cracks will develop.

2. What are the different types of render?

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image credit: Oliver Beamish

Today’s finishes are a world away from the grey pebble dash of post-war housing. There are now lots of specialist products to choose from, including through-coloured silicone renders and one-coat renders.

  • Cement renders are the standard option. Mixed on site, they are usually applied in several coats, then painted once dry. You’ll need to paint them regularly to keep them looking their best
  • Polymer renders, on the other hand, are pre-mixed and often pre-coloured. They are often through-coloured.
  • Thorough-coloured products, where the pigment is added in the manufacturing process, colour the entire render, not just the outer surface. This means the walls don’t need to be painted as well.
  • Lime renders haven’t been used in decades, but are making a comeback. Lime is superior to cement as it’s less likely that moisture will be trapped in the brickwork – it’s also more visually appealing. On the downside, it’s more expensive than cement and harder to apply.

3. What benefits does rendering a house have?

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Image credit: David Giles

Aside from protecting the brickwork against wind and rain, rendering your walls can make the building more efficient. Around 30 per cent of the energy used to heat a home is lost through its external walls. Using a product such as an acrylic-insulated render is a clever way of upgrading energy efficiency without compromising your interior living space.

  • Acrylic insulated render is ideal for both new builds and refurbishment projects – visit inca-
ltd.org.uk for advice, or contact suppliers such as Sto or Wetherby Building Systems.

Expect to pay around anywhere between £45 and £65 per sq m for insulated render. To insulate a semi-detached house externally will cost around £4,500.

4. Can I render walls myself?

We recommend that you leave it to the experts. As with plastering, achieving the smooth finish required can be very difficult.

5. Do I need planning permission to render?

Rendering-a-house-3

Image credit: David Still

You don’t usually need to apply for planning permission for repairs and maintenance to render. But if 
you live in a sensitive location such 
as a conservation area, you will need permission before completely changing the cladding of your home. If you want to re-render external walls, building regulations may also apply, depending on the extent of the work.

If your property is listed and part of a group of properties, it may be the case that your render will need to be a specific RAL or British Standard (BS) colour. Check your deeds and paperwork carefully before you start.

6. Can I mix materials?

Rendering-a-house-1

It’s increasingly on trend to cover a house in more than one type of material. Combinations of render and timber cladding are especially popular, and you can see why!

But if you are planning to mix finishes, bare in mind the added cost to your renovations. Using smaller quantities of more materials will be expensive, as will employing the different tradespeople to apply them. You’ll also need to ensure that the materials are installed in the right order, with a clean junction between them.

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