7 popular types of cladding in Australia - Building AU
7 popular types of cladding in Australia

7 popular types of cladding in Australia

When building or renovating a home, many important decisions get made but one of the most crucial is the choice of house cladding. In Australia, we are fortunate to have a number of exterior wall cladding options to choose from but what’s the difference between them and what’s best for you?

Words by Yohei Guy

House cladding has many important roles which include protecting the house from harsh weather conditions, providing thermal insulation and keeping noise in and out. It also has an important aesthetic function which is the improve the overall appearance of a house or building.

Exterior cladding options can seem vast and endless at first. Navigating your way through this complicated maze of options, each with its advantages and disadvantages, can be frustrating and even confusing. By covering the essentials below, you’ll hopefully gain a better understanding of choosing the right type of cladding for your home.

Covet - Kabebari Concealed Fix Batten Cladding

What types of cladding are available?

Cladding in Australia encompasses a smorgasbord of options. Timber cladding, weatherboard cladding, schist cladding, plywood cladding, plaster cladding, fibre cement cladding, aluminium, brick, stone and vinyl cladding - the list literally goes on.

So which is best for you? To answer this properly, consideration needs to be given to a range of factors. Climate and environment, probable lifespan, costs including ongoing maintenance, not to mention a look that will be pleasing to your eye. Below are some of the most popular types of cladding with a few facts and insights to get you started.

1. Brick cladding

Brick has been a dominant and popular cladding material for many years in Australia and abroad. It is considered a highly effective exterior cladding option that is both practical and aesthetically pleasing. It has fantastic long-term credentials, able to withstand the effects of the weather and environment. However, bricks can be seen as time-consuming, structurally limiting and somewhat labour intensive which can inflate budgets.

Brick cladding is often preferable to weatherboard cladding for homes in hotter climates. Once constructed, brick is a low maintenance option. It is also ideal for coastal homes as brick is much better suited to withstand salty air that drifts off the sea.

Covet - Mizotsuki Batten Screen Cladding System

2. Brick veneer cladding

Brick veneer is similar in appearance to natural brick (these days often indistinguishable) and has a number of traits that make it a very popular choice for designers and builders. It is light in weight (compared to natural bricks) and is relatively easy to install. It also has a very high insulation capacity which means it's also an ideal choice for internal cladding in applications such as backsplash, fireplaces, walls and sidings.

As a lightweight material, brick veneer is able to be installed on most residential walls. It’s also easier to work with and manipulate than regular wood and other natural materials. Durable and fireproof, brick veneer looks appealing without any need for paint making it a highly useful cladding option.

3. Timber and weatherboard cladding

Timber and weatherboard cladding is a low maintenance choice when built well that provides a clean and tidy appearance. Compared to some other cladding options it requires relatively minimal effort to install bringing overall costs down. It is very durable and able to withstand significant weather events and are not likely to stain or become badly damaged from the wind or rain.

Traditionally, weatherboard cladding was made with timber however, there are now various options that imitate the look of timber cladding using different materials. Some of the most popular of these substitutes include composite materials, engineered timber, fibre cement, steel and vinyl.

These materials are available in a wide range of colours and finishes. This type of modern weatherboard cladding does offer the potential to satisfy any aesthetic taste and provide an understated, elegant appeal.

Industry Cladding & Roofing - Corten

4. Fibre cement cladding

Fibre cement cladding is a stable, reliable and durable cladding solution that can and has been trusted to do its job for many years. It’s a low maintenance option that requires very little upkeep, excellent for those that lead busy lives.

Fibre cement is made from a mix of sand, cement and cellulose fibres, most commonly applied in sheets or horizontal boards. It comes second only to timber in terms of energy efficiency in construction. A robust cladding, fibre cement has high levels of fire resistance and resistance to rot and termites.

While it arguably offers less character than some other cladding options, it is extremely affordable and budget-friendly. It is also available in an endless variety of colours and finishes, allowing room for creative flair and expression.

5. Natural stone cladding

There are a good number of natural stone cladding systems available in Australia including granite, limestone and quartzite. One of stone’s greatest properties is that it provides fantastic insulation and thermal performance, increasing energy efficiency within a home while minimising its carbon footprint. Non-porous and non-absorbent, stone also offers moisture protection and strong weather resistance.

Stone has undeniable presence and character both internally as a feature wall and externally as well. If you’re after an attractive option that provides a rustic, natural look it's hard to look past stone. It is also a house cladding option that requires very little upkeep.

6. Metal cladding

Metal cladding is widely considered a robust and reliable cladding option. There are a number of different types of metal cladding but two of the most popular are steel and aluminium. Steel is the more durable of the two and is typically more expensive as a result. Aluminium composite panels (ACP) are cheaper to build with but slightly more susceptible to weather-related damage. Both are available in a range of profiles such as corrugated or trapezoidal and are enjoyed for the modern feel they bring to a home.

We can’t talk about metal cladding, however, without referencing the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017. Concerns were raised about the fire risk posed by aluminium cladding in the aftermath of this tragedy. While aluminium is flammable and a heat conductor, it should be noted that many other forms of cladding are also flammable. The key is to mitigate this risk.

Another factor about the disaster was the core between the aluminium layers of cladding at Grenfell Tower was polyethelene, whereas ACP is available with a fire-resistant core. For this reason, it’s important to find out if the ACP you choose is fire-rated or not. Another way to mitigate the fire risk is to ensure that a stringent regime of vertical firebreaks is incorporated into the design. Your building professionals will be able to advise you on this.

Renson - Linarte Aluminum Wall Cladding

7. Concrete cladding

Aerated concrete panels are a popular and effective option for cladding, widely used for both residential and commercial buildings. Aerated concrete offers a highly durable cladding solution that is much more lightweight than traditional concrete, making it significantly more cost-effective to install. They are a bushfire, decay and termite resistant type of cladding making it appropriate for a wide variety of Australian settings.

Aerated concrete panels also provide excellent thermal insulation meaning your home will be more energy efficient making them better for you and the environment. The material price is also comparable with other cladding types making it fairly cost-effective too.

Choosing the best exterior cladding options for your home

As you can see there are some great choices to choose from when it comes to the best external cladding for your home. The different types of cladding all have their pros and cons but with the right information and an understanding of your own priorities, you’ll be best placed to make the right choice for your home.

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