Initial impacts of Exterior Wall cladding, such as embodied energy, resource depletion and recyclability, must be balanced against maintenance and durability appropriate to life span.
The primary roles of cladding are to control the infiltration of weather elements and the egress of water vapor while providing a durable, aesthetically pleasing appearance. Secondary roles can include sound and thermal insulation, fire resistance, and the capacity for cleaning in dusty, polluted or vandal prone environments.
Your choice of cladding should be based on a careful assessment and prioritization of each of these roles for each orientation of your home. By choosing cladding materials and Green Building Materials specific to an elevation or exposure, you can often achieve the best in physical performance and aesthetics.
West-facing gable walls are clad in durable steel, while the sun-protected north, south and courtyard walls are clad in weatherboard.
Cladding is typically made of wood, metal, plastic (vinyl), masonry or an increasing range of composite materials. It can be attached directly to the frame or to an intermediate layer of battens or spacers to prevent condensation and allow water vapour to escape.
Cladding systems include horizontal or vertical boards, sheet materials or smaller overlapping panels such as shingles and tiles. Each system uses different methods to prevent wind and rain entering through the joints, and each system’s effectiveness varies depending on wind direction and speed and the degree of exposure to rain.
Most performance characteristics of cladding materials vary substantially and are outlined in the broad, individual materials groupings in ‘Cladding options’ below.
The range of textures, colors, styles, and finishes available means that the aesthetic outcome is limited only by the designer’s imagination, council regulations or extreme site conditions.
Apart from aesthetic considerations, the color of external cladding influences its capacity to absorb or reflect heat. In most climates, it is preferable to use lighter colors or proprietary reflective finishes, especially for roofing (see Passive cooling).
Well-designed applications of darker cladding elements can be beneficial in colder climates
Texture or profile
Most Exterior Wall cladding materials have a distinctive profile or texture that can create horizontal, vertical or angled patterns and shadow textures. Often a well-designed blend of cladding materials can offer both a pleasing appearance and a better matching of materials to specific conditions
Cladding selection presents an opportunity to reduce the overall environmental impact of a home by choosing environmentally preferred materials and systems.