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What is Cladding in Construction? (Quick Answer)

cladding aluminum composite construction
Cladding is a non-structural, material layer that is attached to the exterior surface of a building to improve the appearance and provide protection to...

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What is Cladding?

Cladding is a non-structural, material layer that is attached to the exterior surface of a building to improve the appearance and provide protection to the structure and contents of a building.

A render of an architecturally designed house with aluminium composite cladding

What is the purpose of Cladding a building?

Cladding is primarily used to complement the building’s design and architectural style. Secondary considerations come in the form of providing protection against the elements as well as thermal and energy efficency through insulation. The effectiveness of these secondary attributes can vary greatly depending on the type and colour of the material.

What materials can be used for Cladding?

There are an endless number of materials that can be used for cladding. Glass, brick, metal, stone, timber and fibre cement are all suitable, tried and tested options for external cladding. New materials such as aluminum or plastic composite panels are really starting to take the industry by storm.

Brick, brick veneer, bricklaying, construction, cladding, veneer
Men laying brick veneer cladding.

Is there anything other than the ‘look’ to consider?

Yes, there are several other properties to consider when chosing the right cladding. We’ve provided a quick summary below:

Location and Climate: Consideration must be given to the location and climate of the property to be clad as some materials don’t hold up as well as others in certain climates. For example, metal cladding can require additional treatment or maintenance if used in coastal areas because of corrosion.

Energy Efficiency and Insulation: Another important factor for determining the right cladding is the material’s thermal properties. Materials that have good insulation (R-factor rating) are a main contributing factor to a building’s energy efficiency and can help greatly reduce heating and/or cooling costs when occupied.

Building Codes and Regulations: While considering all of the above it is important to always have knowledge of what materials are acceptable by local building codes and fire safety guildelines. Since the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017, there has been a big push in the construction industry to ban cladding materials that are combustable, such as Polyethylene-filled aluminium composite panels.

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