What Is Cladding?

Cladding is also referred to as siding and can be found on commercial buildings and houses. Cladding involves applying insulating materials to the exterior of a building that protect the underlying structure from the elements (wind and moisture). Siding is also installed on buildings or houses for aesthetic reasons.

The process used to install cladding will vary depending on the material used. Here’s a basic explanation to give you an idea:

Battens (usually made of timber) are installed on the outside of the house at various points and panels (made of wood, metal, PVC or fibre cement) are then attached to the battens. The panels are mounted on to the battens horizontally and so that they overlap each other at the edges. This allows water to runoff the panels and prevents moisture build-up that can damage the structure of the building.

A number of different materials can be used as siding including wood, Stone, brick, metal and PVC.

Let’s take a closer look at each, including some of advantages and disadvantages:

  1. Wood Cladding. This approach to siding involves using planks of timber (usually cedar or pine) as cladding panels. Wood cladding is the most expensive and requires slightly more maintenance. It will also need to be treated to prevent rot and termite infestations around once a year.
  2. Vinyl Cladding (PVC). Vinyl cladding is one of the most popular methods of cladding because it’s relatively inexpensive when compared to timber and requires much less maintenance. One of the main reasons people used to opt for timber over PVC was for aesthetic appeal but this has changed because most PVC panels are now designed to mimic the look of timber.
  3. Metal Siding. This method of wall cladding involves the use of aluminium or steel panels. The obvious advantage of using aluminium over steel is that it’s corrosion resistant. Aluminium siding will be more expensive than steel will but will be a more suitable option for homes that are in close proximity to the sea. Cladding for commercial use and larger buildings sometimes make use of composite cladding panels, which are a hybrid of aluminium and thermoplastic for the best of both worlds.
  4. Brick Cladding. This method of cladding is often used for aesthetic purposes on fireplaces and outside pizza ovens. It involves bonding brick slips (thinner versions of full bricks) to an exterior surface using an adhesive. Some cladding manufacturers offer panels or tiles that interlock and can be installed faster than individual brick slips.
  5. Stone Siding. This type of cladding would be classified as masonry veneer (as is the above). The main drawback to this method of siding is expense, with the advantages being longevity, minimal maintenance and durability. Types of stone commonly used to clad walls include:  granite, marble, slate and sandstone.
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This article was written by Daniel Stevens for one of the largest cladding suppliers in Africa.