Cladding materials

Want to install cladding on the interior or exterior of your house? Then find out which cladding materials will best suit your property here.

Cladding (sometimes referred to as panelling) is mostcommonly applied to the exterior walls of buildings and is used for a varietyof purposes; to transform the exterior of a property, provide protection fromthe elements, to help insulate a building or to match the appearance of anextension with the rest of the house. Avariety of materials can be used for cladding, the most common claddingmaterials are:

Wood cladding

Timber is the most popular and traditional cladding material. Wooden cladding has the added advantage of being a natural, eco-friendly product, which is renewable. To ensure that you choose the most sustainable wood possible; look for a certification from either the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) or the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). When choosing which type of wood cladding you are going to use, consider:

Cladding materials

Timber is the most popular
cladding material

  • The species – in general, higher grade timbers are sleek in comparison to low grade, rougher options. Softwoods such as pine, cedar or larch are common choices but hardwoods such as maple or oak can also be used – each result in a different aesthetic finish.
  • Durability and maintenance – bear in mind that certain woods are naturally more durable than others. Cedar and oak for example are particularly hard wearing options which can last up to 60 years. Pine, on the other hand, is much less robust and needs to be regularly treated. Depending on your choice, you will need to regularly paint or re-stain your timber cladding to keep it in good repair.
  • Finish – applying varnishes and paint will protect the wood but also creates a different finish, for instance, you could paint wood cladding white for a beach effect, or use a dark stain for a modern look.
  • Size, length and orientation of boards – timber cladding comes in different board lengths and widths, which result in different styles – it may be best to consult a professional when deciding which type would best suit your property. The orientation of the boards also needs to be considered; while they can be placed horizontally or diagonally for design purposes, vertical boards are most practical as they allow for effective rain water run-off.

Brick cladding

Brick cladding is a cheaper alternative which can be used to hide old, unattractive masonry, cover concrete walls or modernise a building. As a traditional construction material, brick makes for a reliable cladding option, which should be applied by a professional for best results.

Stone cladding

Cladding materials

Stone is a long lasting, durable
cladding material

Stone cladding became notorious as a rather ugly addition to urban homes in the 1980s. The technique was originally intended to provide a touch of rural aesthetic to towns and cities. Now, however, stone can be used stylishly and look great on all types of properties, especially old or cottage style homes.

One of the main advantages of stone cladding is that it’s a natural, environmentally friendly material; you can even use reclaimed stone for cladding which cuts down on the carbon emissions expelled by mining raw stone – reclaimed stone will most likely cost you less too. The thickness of stone cladding will depend on the type you choose to use; thicker stone will be more durable, lasting 60-100 years. Stone is a porous material, which allows your home to breathe but it does need sealing, otherwise it will be vulnerable to frost and moisture damage.

uPVC and composite cladding

uPVC can be used for exterior cladding but is most commonly applied to property interiors. It is a good option for wet areas like the bathroom, utility room or kitchen as it creates a hygienic, water resistant environment. In comparison to tiling a room such as the kitchen, installing uPVC cladding is a cheaper, much easier to install alternative, which comes in a variety of colours and styles.

Composite cladding, made from a mixture of synthetic and manmade materials such as glass fibres and wood shavings blasted together under high pressure, is an incredibly strong cladding material which will need virtually no maintenance. An expensive option, composite cladding comes in a range of designs and can be used inside or outside of a property.

Metal cladding

Metal cladding was traditionally a low cost, secure and easy to maintain option, mostly applied to industrial buildings. However, metals such as aluminium can also look great, especially if it’s been left to age. Aluminium has been used in innovative architectural designs.

Cladding materials

Unusual cladding materials
are available

Unusual cladding materials

More unusual cladding materials have been used on public buildings and in cutting edge architectural design. Materials which reflect light such as dichroic film and multi-coloured polycarbonate have been applied to the outside of buildings to create an eye catching facade. If you want to experiment with unusual cladding materials, it is a good idea to consult an architect to discuss options.

Ventilated rainscreen cladding

When applying exterior cladding, it is essential that waterproofing and ventilation are taken into account. This means having a weatherproof outside layer which acts as a first defence against the elements, such as sealed stone or treated timber. A ventilated cavity should alsobe applied between the cladding and interior wall to act as a second measure against any moisture which does manage to penetrate the exterior and to allow for ventilation, which will protect your home from damp. The ventilated cavity will have a gap at the top and the bottom, which uses wind force and the difference in air pressure to drive any moisture heavy air out through the top of the cavity, as well as allowing some water to drain out at the base of the building.

This technique is commonly referred to as ventilated rainscreen cladding and was developed in Scandinavia in the 1940s to protect against harsh weather conditions. It was adopted in the UK, firstly in Scotland, and became popular in the 1980s.

Exterior wall insulation

Cladding materials

Cladding can be applied to
the interior of your property

If you’re planning to clad the exterior of your property, this is an ideal time to think about installing external wall insulation too. This should be considered if you have solid walls and not more modern cavity ones, which can be filled with cavity wall insulation at a lower cost. Insulation boards will be fixed to the exterior walls before cladding is installed to keep your home warm and energy efficient. According to the Energy Saving Trust, you could save up to £385 per year off of your fuel bills by installing external wall insulation.

Cost of cladding

Always hire a professional to install your cladding; whether it’s for the interior or exterior of your home. Get at least three quotes and make sure you ask for references and insurance and qualification credentials before you hire. The cost of cladding will vary considerably depending on what material you want to use and how much of it you need to buy – so if you’re cladding the entire exterior of your home with expensive, high quality timber, expect a hefty price tag. Cheap, interior uPVC cladding for shower cubicles or a utility area will cost a lot less.

Robert frame says:

Hi my mother is 73 she lives in a solid wall timber framed house she is disabled does she qualify for external wall insulation free .look forward to your reply

mjackson says:

Hi Robert,

Thanks for your post.

There are a number of grants available such as the Renovation grant therefore i would suggest reading our article titled Government Grants for Home and Loft Insulation as this will give you some useful information on the options you have.

You can also contact your local council who should be be able to advise also.

We hope that this information helps.

Mark @ Servicemagic

shakera says:

Hi, what material would be best for a renovation of an old primary school building. I want it to look modern yet should not be too expensive

mjackson says:

Hi Shakera,

Thanks for your post.

We have limited knowledge on this subject as there are advantages and disadvantages when using certain types of materials.

If it is something that you are definitely looking to do then please feel free to visit the website and we will aim to match you with up to 4 local companies that will be able to offer you quotes and advice on any work that might be involved.

We hope this helps.


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