Exterior cladding – a guide to how to clad your home and the rules to follow

The overcoat to your home, this important external layer is what gives the house its character
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  • There are numerous reasons why you might want to add exterior cladding to your home. It might be because your a fan of the weather board look so popular in the US. Or perhaps you are just looking for a way to cover unsightly pebbledash on a period property.

    Discover more ways to transform your home with our project planning advice

    Whatever the reasons behind your choice, our guide on exterior cladding will allow you to create the perfect look, whatever or wherever your home is.

    What is exterior cladding?

    exterior cladding

    Image credit: Ngoc Minh Ngo

    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.

    Want more project advice and planning tips? Read: How to build an extension

    What materials can you use for exterior cladding?

    exterior cladding

    Image credit: Bridget Peirson

    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.

    1. Brickwork

    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.

    2. Stone

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

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

    5. Metal

    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.

    What are the rules for cladding a house?

    exterior cladding

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    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.

    Related: Planning permission – everything you need to know

    Will you be incorporating exterior cladding on your home?

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