Picture of George Nicola
George Nicola

George is a seasoned interior designer and property marketing strategist with over 13 years of experience. He specializes in transforming properties into visually stunning spaces, helping clients recognize the potential and beauty in each property. With an impressive international client base of exciting projects throughout Europe and America.

Table of Contents
Stacks of construction materials, including corrugated metal sheets, wooden planks, and flat concrete slabs, are arranged in an outdoor area on dirt ground. Notably, some of the timber is destined for exterior timber cladding applications.
Stacks of construction cladding, including corrugated metal sheets, wooden planks, and flat concrete slabs, are arranged in an outdoor area on dirt ground. Notably, some of the timber is destined for exterior timber cladding applications.

Cladding or siding is an architectural technique that involves applying one material over another to provide a skin or layer intended to control the infiltration of weather elements, enhance  curb appeal, and can even improve energy efficiency.

It has become an essential component in modern building design, offering numerous possibilities to enhance the appearance and functionality of exteriors.

Whether it’s for residential homes, commercial complexes, or industrial facilities, cladding can dramatically improve a building’s curb appeal and value, while providing added protection and insulation.

George Nicola from TALLBOX : the single most important thing to know about facade cladding is that it serves as the building’s protective skin, safeguarding the structure from the elements while contributing to its overall aesthetic and energy efficiency.

This means that the choice of cladding product, design, and installation technique significantly impacts the building’s longevity, performance, and appearance.

It’s crucial to select a cladding system that is appropriate for the specific climate, structure type, and desired aesthetic. Without proper cladding, installation, and maintenance, a building becomes vulnerable to a host of potential issues like water damage, thermal bridging, or structural failure, compromising its safety, comfort, and overall value.

This article will delve into various cladding materials and their benefits, demonstrating how the right choice can transform any structure.

Cladding materials and siding

Siding, known as wall cladding and also screen walls, is the protective material (cladding product) attached to the exterior side of a building’s walls. It acts as a first line of defense against the elements, such as sun, rain, snow, heat, and cold, while contributing to the building’s overall aesthetic appeal.

Type of exterior sidingAverage price
Wood exterior claddingAbout $10 to $15/square foot
CanExel exterior cladding (installation included)About $6 to $15/square foot
Acrylic coating (installation included)About $10 to $15/square foot
Vinyl exterior sidingAbout $4 to $7/square foot
Aluminum sidingAbout $7 to $10/square foot
Fibre cement panelsAbout $5 to $15/square foot
Brick exterior claddingAbout $25 to $45/square foot
Suretouch (materials only)About $8 to $15/square foot
Stone veneer (materials only)About $11 to $18/square foot
Stucco (materials only)About $6 to $9/square foot
Metal siding (steel or corrugated) (materials only)About $2 to $5/square foot
Composite siding (materials only)About $3.5 to $17/square foot
Cedar shake siding (materials only)About $7 to $16/square foot

Purpose:

  • Protection: Siding shields the building’s structure from moisture, wind, pests, and other external factors that could cause damage or deterioration.
  • Insulation: It can help to improve the building’s energy efficiency by acting as a thermal barrier, reducing heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer.
  • Aesthetics: Siding comes in a wide variety of materials, colors, textures, and styles, allowing architects and homeowners to create a desired look and enhance the curb appeal of the building.

Types of Cladding Materials

There are different types of cladding materials that come in a wide variety – natural wood and nontraditional timber wood, metal, brick, stone, stucco, fiber cement, vinyl, and composite, each offering unique advantages, and they come as wall panels. 

Brick veneer cladding, for instance, is highly regarded for its durability and timeless aesthetic of the exterior wall. It provides a classic look that complements a variety of architectural styles, from colonial to contemporary. Brick veneer siding is low-maintenance and known for its fire-resistant properties, making it a practical choice for both residential and commercial buildings.

Many building designs utilize natural stone for cladding, such as granite, marble, limestone, and sandstone. These stones offer a unique natural look aesthetic appeal due to their varied colors, textures, and patterns.Stone facades are known for their durability and longevity.

They can withstand harsh weather conditions, resist fire, and require minimal maintenance. Natural stone is a sustainable cladding material, as it’s abundant, recyclable, and requires less energy to produce compared to other materials.

Metal cladding and corten steel is gaining popularity for its sleek, modern appearance and versatility. Metals such as aluminum, steel, and zinc can be fashioned into various shapes and finishes, allowing for innovative design approaches. Metal cladding is lightweight yet strong, offering excellent protection against weather while requiring minimal upkeep.

The possibility of incorporating insulation layers beneath the metal can significantly enhance the building’s energy efficiency and great moisture protection. From timber cladding to fiber cement, each material offers unique features and can be combined to create stunning visual effects. Knowing the characteristics of each type can guide you in selecting the ideal cladding material for your building.

Who installs the cladding and when?

Cladding installation is typically done by specialized contractors during the construction or renovation process of a building. Here’s a brief overview:

Who installs cladding:

  1. Cladding contractors
  2. Facade specialists
  3. General contractors (in some cases)

When cladding is installed:

  1. New construction: Usually after the main structure is complete and weathertight, but before interior finishes.
  2. Renovations: Can be done at any time, often as part of an energy efficiency upgrade or aesthetic improvement.

The exact timing can vary depending on the type of cladding, building design, and construction schedule.

Environmental Benefits of Sustainable Cladding

Sustainable cladding materials are designed to minimize environmental impact both during manufacturing and throughout their lifecycle.

Materials like reclaimed (used) wood, for instance, not only reduce deforestation and add a rustic, natural charm to building exteriors.

Reclaimed wood is often treated to enhance its durability and resistance to pests and weather, making it a viable option for eco-conscious builders.

Similarly, recycled metal cladding is another sustainable choice, often made from post-consumer scrap metal, architects use it to achieve different exterior look besides the cost benefits. 

This not only reduces the need for new raw materials and lowers the overall carbon footprint of the building project. 

Recycled metal maintains the same benefits as new metal cladding, including durability, low maintenance, and aesthetic flexibility. By choosing sustainable cladding materials, builders can contribute to environmental conservation while meeting modern design standards.

Water & Moisture & Facade Cladding

  • Waterproofing: Proper waterproofing is crucial for stone facades to prevent water penetration, which can lead to structural damage, mold growth, and staining. Sealants and coatings are often applied to stone cladding to enhance its water resistance.
  • Moisture Management: Effective moisture management systems, such as weep holes and ventilation gaps, are essential to allow moisture to escape from behind the cladding, preventing damage to the building structure.

When cladding is installed?

The best time for installing timber cladding is October to April; this period is generally considered the best time to install the siding. Natural materials made from natural products require a specific installation process.

The milder temperatures and reduced humidity help prevent the wood from drying too quickly, especially minimizing warping, shrinking, and other weather-related issues.

Other Cladding Materials:

  • Spring and Autumn: These seasons often offer moderate temperatures and less extreme weather conditions, making them suitable for installing various cladding materials, including vinyl, fiber cement, and metal.
  • Summer: While summer can be a viable option, it’s essential to consider the potential impact of high temperatures and humidity on certain materials, especially timber. Proper acclimation and installation techniques are crucial to prevent issues like warping and expansion.
  • Winter: Cladding installation can be done in winter, but it may require additional precautions and adjustments to account for colder temperatures and potential moisture issues.

What materials for siding are high-performance?

High-performance siding materials offer a combination of durability, energy efficiency, weather resistance, and low maintenance requirements. Some of the top contenders include fiber cement siding.

Fiber cement is resistant to rot, pests, fire, and impact, offering long-lasting protection, requiring minimal upkeep, saving time and money.

The fiber cement designs are available in various styles and finishes, mimicking the look of wood, stucco, or masonry. With special coating, it withstands harsh weather conditions, including rain, snow, and UV rays and can be paired with insulation for improved energy performance.

Metal siding (steel or aluminum): This robust cladding option resists rot, pests, fire, and impact, providing long-lasting protection. Its minimal upkeep requirements save time and money, while its resilience to harsh weather conditions, including high winds and heavy rain, ensures lasting performance. Additionally, it can be combined with insulation for enhanced energy efficiency.

Engineered wood siding: Crafted to be more durable than traditional wood, this siding resists rot, decay, and insects, requiring less maintenance. It offers the warm, natural aesthetic of wood while providing the option for improved thermal performance when paired with insulation.

High-performance vinyl siding: Modern formulations of vinyl siding are more durable and resistant to fading and cracking than previous iterations. This low-maintenance, cost-effective option provides a variety of styles and colors, with insulated versions available for enhanced energy efficiency.

Insulated concrete forms (ICFs): This exceptionally durable cladding solution withstands fire, pests, and extreme weather conditions. Its superior insulation properties lead to significant energy savings and provide unparalleled soundproofing compared to other siding materials.

Advantages of Composite Panels

Composite panels are a versatile and cost-effective cladding solution composed of a core material sandwiched between two layers of metal, usually aluminum. One of the primary benefits of composite panels is their superior strength-to-weight ratio, which allows for larger panel sizes and fewer structural supports. This characteristic not only reduces installation time and costs but lends a streamlined, modern appearance to the building exterior.

Beyond their structural advantages, composite panels offer excellent insulation properties. The core material, which can be made of polyisocyanurate or mineral wool, provides top-notch thermal and acoustic insulation. This feature is particularly beneficial in urban environments where noise reduction and energy efficiency are paramount. 

Cost and Maintenance Considerations

All cladding materials, including stone, are susceptible to some degree of weathering over time. Factors like sunlight, rain, wind, and temperature fluctuations can cause fading, erosion, or discoloration.

When selecting cladding materials, cost and maintenance are crucial factors to consider. While some materials like natural stone or hardwood can be quite expensive upfront, their longevity and minimal maintenance requirements can make them cost-effective in the long run. Natural stone, for example, is almost impervious to weathering and requires very little upkeep, retaining its beauty for decades.

Other affordable materials like vinyl cladding offer significant initial savings but may require more frequent maintenance and replacement. Vinyl is relatively easy to install and available in various styles and colors; however, it can be prone to cracking and fading over time. 

Regular cleaning and occasional repairs are necessary to keep it looking its best. By carefully weighing the costs and maintenance needs of different cladding options, builders can make informed choices that balance budgetary constraints with long-term performance and aesthetics.

Cladding is a versatile and effective means of enhancing any building’s exterior. With a wide range of materials to choose from, builders can achieve various design objectives while meeting performance and sustainability standards. The right cladding choice will not only improve the appearance of a structure adds value, protection, and energy efficiency to it for years to come. 

Do facade cladding adds value?

Yes, facade cladding can add significant value to a property, both in terms of monetary value and overall appeal. It ranks high on the “adds value list” compared to other home improvement components.

Here’s a rough ranking of some common value-adding elements:

  1. Location/land value
  2. Structural integrity
  3. Energy efficiency features (including insulation)
  4. Facade cladding and overall exterior appearance
  5. Interior finishes and design
  6. Modern, updated systems (HVAC, electrical, plumbing)
  7. Smart home/building technology
  8. Outdoor spaces (balconies, terraces)
  9. Parking facilities
  10. Amenities (gym, pool, etc. for residential buildings)

Monetary Value:

Increased Resale Value: A well-chosen and properly installed cladding system can enhance a building’s curb appeal, making it more attractive to potential buyers and increasing its resale value. Studies have shown that exterior renovations, including cladding upgrades, can yield a return on investment (ROI) of up to 70-80%.
Energy Efficiency: High-performance cladding materials with insulation properties can improve the building’s energy efficiency, leading to lower energy bills and increased property value. Energy-efficient homes often command a premium in the real estate market.
Reduced Maintenance Costs: Durable and low-maintenance cladding materials can save property owners money on repairs and upkeep over time, further contributing to the overall value of the building.