What Are the Different Types of Cladding?

Designed to enhance the aesthetic of a property as well as provide practical benefits and protection, cladding is a now widely used, fundamental component in modern building construction. It is manufactured in a multitude of materials, colours, styles and sizes and can change or enhance the aesthetic of virtually any building. But what really is cladding and how many different types are there?

What is Cladding?

Cladding is known as an extra layer or ‘skin’ that is attached onto the outside of a building. It can be fixed to the building’s framework or on an intermediate layer of battens or spacers. This external component can be spotted on a wide range of buildings and properties across the country, having becoming a hugely popular construction technique.

What Does Cladding Do?

Cladding has a variety of different purposes with a multitude of types available. The main uses for cladding in construction include:

  • Aesthetic – Cladding is often fitted to alter or improve the visual appeal of a building. Depending on the kind of cladding you install, the external look of the building can be completely transformed. Whether you want to simply rejuvenate worn brickwork on an old property or create an eye-catching look on a newly built home, cladding can be used to produce a multitude of aesthetics.
  • Durability – A main benefit to cladding is the durable protection it provides for the building structure. Cladding helps to improve the structural resilience and strength of a building, offering protection against harsh weather conditions and extreme temperature changes.
  • Easy Maintenance – Although it does depend on the type you install, cladding often helps to lessen the maintenance required on a property as it long-lasting and requires minimal repairs and cleaning.
  • Insulation – Cladding can also provide sound and thermal insulation as well as fire resistance in certain types.

What are the Different Types of Cladding?

Cladding is manufactured in a range of different materials. In this post, we will talk you through the various types of cladding as well as the pros and cons for each with some high-quality examples to get your project started.

UPVC

Benefits

UPVC is a building material also known as Unplasticized Poly Vinyl Compound. It is one of the most popular cladding choices for residential construction due to its impressive durability, low maintenance care, easy installation and sleek modern appearance.

High-quality UPVC cladding is very easy to look after so helps to minimise the amount of work needed on the building whilst still maintaining a clean and contemporary look. Just simple washing is required to keep the externals of your property looking brand new.

Thanks to its robust structure, UPVC is also very long-lasting and resilient. It offers excellent protection against UV rays, harsh weathering (salt water and acid rain) and even the spread of fire. If fitted correctly, UPVC cladding can help to insulate the building and maintain a consistent, comfortable temperature internally throughout both the winter and summer months.

Available in a range of colours and finishes, UPVC can be used to create many different looks for a property. For example, the Open V UPVC Cladding Board comes in 3 different shades: White, Golden Oak and Rosewood. The white creates a clean and fresh aesthetic whilst the woody tones create a warmer and more natural appearance. It can be used to suit both contemporary and more traditional building structures, dependant on the shade that you go for.

The UPVC Shiplap Cladding Board is also available in a stunning ‘Black Ash’ shade which will upgrade and modernise even the most tired of exteriors.

Check out the full range of UPVC cladding here.

Things to Consider

Although generally dependent on the quality of the cladding you install, lighter coloured UPVC can sometimes be prone to discolouration and yellowing after years of UV exposure. The sun’s rays can also cause the material to become brittle which can cause potential breakage. Look for UPVC with a long life guarantee and high-quality colouring.

Metal

Benefits

Another commonly used material for cladding construction is metal. Inexpensive yet sturdy, metal cladding adds a high level of durability to a building and protects against wind, rain, UV rays, pollution and temperature changes. Steel cladding can resist virtually any impact plus lasts for up to 50 years without any need for replacement. Despite their strength, most metal cladding panels are actually pretty lightweight, making them easy to transport, handle and install with no heavy dead load added to the building structure.

Many metal cladding panels can also be manufactured using recycled materials, which reduces their environmental impact. This makes them perfect for those looking to build a more eco-conscious home.

In terms of visual appeal, metal cladding creates a more rugged, industrial look. This is ideal for commercial and agricultural buildings but can also look ultra-modern on a contemporary property.

Metal sheets are available in a selection of colours just like the Steel Box Profile Roofing Sheet. These high-quality sheets come are available to buy various shades of green, white, black, grey and even blue. They are crafted from top-grade steel and are hot dipped in a galvanised coating for optimum longevity. A PVC plastisol coating ensures full scratch and fade resistance so you don’t have to worry about constant cleaning and maintenance too.

Take a look at the full range of metal cladding here.

Things to Consider

Most metal cladding sheets are manufactured to protect them against harsh weathering. However, when cut to size, the edges are often not re-coated so can be left subjected to the effects of the elements, causing potential rusting and damage.

Lower quality metal paints may also fade when exposed to UV rays, condensation and environmental pollutants for long periods. This is why it is important to look for sheeting with long-lasting, durable coatings.

Composite

Benefits

For those who love the natural aesthetic of wood but need a more durable option, composite cladding is the perfect solution. The composite material is manufactured using a mix of plastic and wood fibres to create a gorgeous look that is almost indistinguishable from real timber.

Composite is completely resistant against rot, splintering, UV rays, insects, weathering and temperature change. It requires only very minimal maintenance plus, despite high levels of durability, is very lightweight making it easy to transport, handle and install.

Extremely versatile, composite cladding can be used in a wide range of applications including residential and commercial properties, external garden walls, extensions, screen fencing, urban spaces and even internal use. It is available in a multitude of colours and styles to suit any taste.

The stunning Composite Prime - HD Clad Pro Composite Cladding Boards are available in an array of gorgeous colours and create a beautiful bespoke appearance. Each board is manufactured for optimum strength and resilience, whilst being incredibly easy to install and maintain.

Another high-grade example is the Coastline - Composite Cladding Boards designed in 6 chic styles. These boards are guaranteed for a full 20 years with fire safe performance, weatherproof resistance, easy maintenance and straightforward fitting.

Check out the full range of composite cladding boards and accessories here.

Things to Consider

Although far superior durability wise to natural wood, you will often find that composite cladding is more expensive. This may deter those looking for a more affordable cladding option.

Brick

Benefits

A popular and trusted construction material for many years, brick creates a classic look whilst maintaining excellent structural durability for the building. Incredibly versatile in design, brick cladding is available in a huge range of colours, styles, textures and sizes, allowing you to create a look that is individual and unique to your property.

Not only is brick incredibly resistant to harsh conditions such as snow, wind, rain, ice and hail, but it also provides effective protection against fire, making it the perfect choice for residential buildings. Its resistance levels are so high that it can even withstand earthquakes with minimal to no damage.

Things to Consider

A potential drawback to brick cladding, especially for homeowners looking to save money, is the overall expense. In many cases, an expert in brick cladding will need to be hired which can bump up the price of cost along with purchasing the construction materials.

Brick manufacturing also uses up a vast amount of energy, increasing carbon dioxide emissions.

Timber

Benefits

Loved by both homeowners and architects for its elegant look and classic natural feel, timber wood cladding is guaranteed to stand the test of time. Customisable to accommodate virtually any aesthetic, timber can be easily painted or stained in a wide range of colours, then easily cut to perfectly fit the external structure. Thanks to its brilliant versatility, timber looks stylish on new builds, refurbished classic homes, commercial buildings, extensions and more.

As wood is biodegradable and highly sustainable, timber cladding creates a more eco-conscious home. It requires less energy to produce than any other construction material plus can be recycled or reused at the end of its lifespan. Better yet, as growing trees helps to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, using timber increases the span of managed forests for enhanced carbon dioxide removal.

Although lightweight, timber cladding has the durability to withstand adverse conditions such as snow, rain and wind with proper fitting and care. As timber naturally alters in appearance over time anyway, any minor scuffs or dents will also be harder to spot against the natural weathering effect.

If the wood is ever damaged, repairs are generally very easy. Small holes can be filled with wood putty, warped cladding can be shortened and screwed and even full board replacement is fast and straightforward.

When correctly installed, timber cladding even offers fantastic insulative properties, trapping in heat in the colder months and preventing sound from escaping. This can help to conserve energy and lessen your bills, saving you money and helping the environment.

Things to Consider

Although pretty durable, wood cladding does require upkeep with routine inspections and repainting/re-staining needed. Leaving timber damages untreated can cause structural issues so you need to be prepared for possible repairs or replacements.

Timber cladding can also shrink and expand when subjected to temperature changes or very wet then dry weather. This will need to be considered on installation.

Concrete

Benefits

Relatively new in terms of construction techniques, concrete cladding comes in the form of tiles and cladding panels which can be used both internally and externally. Durability-wise, concrete cladding offers exceptional resilience and all-year round protection against weathering and erosion. It can easily withstand adverse conditions as well as rust, termites and extreme temperature changes with no effect on the structure. Concrete is also fully fire resistant, enhancing the safety of the building.

Thankfully, once installed you are also free of any hard maintenance except occasional cleaning and optional repainting to maintain the desired aesthetic. If you ever want to change the look, concrete cladding is pretty simple to remove.

Cost-effectiveness is another substantial benefit to concrete cladding. Concrete offers excellent performance with high affordability. It costs less than other cladding alternatives and can often last much longer.

Concrete cladding creates a smart, contemporary look that makes it perfect for commercial and residential buildings, retail, leisure, hospitals, schools and more. Due to the nature of concrete, it can be manufactured in a range of finishes, textures, patterns and forms to create a unique look for virtually any property.

Things to Consider

As concrete cladding is formed off-site, transporting and handling the panels can be tricky. The weight of the concrete will usually only be carried by specialist trucks which adds to transportation costs plus if the cladding panels are large, a mobile crane may be required for installation.

Without careful planning, it is also very difficult to modify pre-cast concrete if the placement does not fit.

Glass

Benefits

Glass cladding instantly adds a feeling of space, beauty and style to any building. Spotted on many well-known buildings across the world, glass cladding is widely used by architects since it can be moulded into any desired shape to create an eye-catching, modern look.

Versatile in nature, glass can be produced in a both transparent and translucent finishes with range of attractive colours to suit any aesthetic. It adds a huge amount of natural light into a building which enhances the interior and even offers a wide range of health benefits.

As glass cladding is very durable, it offers all year-round protection against weathering without losing its form. It does not rust, decay or rot and can withstand all environmental contaminants. Smooth glass is dust-proof meaning maintenance is minimal plus most types are also abrasion resistant so you won’t have to worry about the cladding scratching or wearing out.

If you are looking to save on bills, glass cladding can also help with that too. Not only does the natural daylight reduce the need for electrical lighting, but many types of glass can now even help to regulate heating, reducing energy costs further still.

Things to Consider

Although with recent technologies glass is now designed to regulate temperatures more efficiently, glass can still absorb heat, meaning that in very hot weather the building may act as a greenhouse.

Some glasses are also not earthquake resistant so can be unsafe if you live in an area with extreme weather conditions. A specific kind of treatment can be given to glass to make it resistant, however this would add a significant cost on to construction.

Glass cladding generally does involve higher costs, not only due to the material itself but also because of the construction and safety precautions that must be taken with it.

Fibre Cement

Benefits

Durable, long-lasting and incredibly resilient, fibre cement is the perfect material for cladding construction. Not only is it fully impact, weather, insect, fire, mould and moisture resistant, fibre cement also excellently maintains its shape and density with no risk of warping or cracking even in extreme temperature changes.

It is lightweight and easy to handle, making installation quick and cost-effective plus the maintenance after is minimal with just an occasional soap clean required. After fitting you won’t have to worry about constant repairs or replacements so expensive additional costs in the future won’t be a worry.

Visually, fibre cement cladding offers great versatility with multiple textures and colours to choose from. It can be used to accommodate a variety of aesthetics on both contemporary and classic buildings.

Check out the fantastic Eternit 3 Inch Fibre Cement Roof Sheet for a practical and stylish alternative to traditional cladding. With impressive resilience, high sustainability, insulative properties and a wide range of colours available, this high-quality roof sheet  provides the perfect product for your fibre cement cladding project.

Check out the full range of fibre cement sheet products here.

Things to Consider

Dependant on the brand you buy, fibre cement cladding can be one of the more expensive cladding materials. However, this increased price is mainly due to the longer lifespan that get you receive.  

Stone

Benefits

Stone cladding is another popular choice due to the effortless natural beauty it can bring to both the interior and exterior of a building. With a huge range of styles, colours and textures to choose from, natural stone cladding gives you the freedom to create any look you want.

Stone is extremely durable and offers great weather and fire resistance. It has an impressive lifespan and requires only minimal maintenance during this time. Better yet, most kinds of stone are also scratch and abrasion resistant meaning that the attractive finish won’t deter even after many years.

Ideal for a wide range of commercial and residential buildings, stone cladding creates an elegant finish that perfectly balances between modern design and natural beauty. It looks very complimentary alongside other materials such as concrete and wood, plus has even been known to increase the value of properties.

Things to Consider

As it can be complicated and time-consuming to install, fitting is usually carried out by an expert instead of a DIYer. If incorrectly installed, moisture can become trapped behind the material, causing damage to both the building structure and the cladding so it is important to guarantee correct fitting.

Stone is already a more expensive cladding material than others so professional installation can add further costs to this.

To Conclude

Adding cladding to a building is a fantastic way of enhancing its appearance and providing durable protection. If you are thinking of starting your own cladding project, why not take a look at our high-quality, affordable selection of External Wall Cladding available at Roofing Megastore now.

If you have any other questions or queries, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly customer service team who will be more than happy to help. Give them a call on 01295 565565, email sales@roofingmegastore.co.uk, or just leave a message in our handy live chat.