External house cladding: What are your options?

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Want to give your home’s exterior surfaces a fresh new look? Apart from painting the walls, cladding is another great option that can instantly change the appearance of your house’s façade – yes, it might take longer and the costs are a bit higher, but the results (which can also enhance kerb appeal) are definitely much more eye catching. 

But what options are worth considering? Well, for a clean and contemporary look, simple rendering is ideal. Alternatively, if you love the traditional style, brick slips or wood cladding could ensure an authentic vibe.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves… let’s consider all the options, find out some prices and then (as always) tell you what the experts recommend!

1. House cladding: Consider the Smart Renovating Concept

Before you start sifting through concrete tiles, hardwood timber and natural stone cladding samples, first consider the Smart Renovating Concept. It works on the idea that a renovation does not have to be a one-size-fits-all project. Thus, first think about which category your house cladding will fall into:

• Moving on: You don’t plan on living in your house for more than two years, so your main aim is to make a profit as opposed to a forever home. 

• Fixer-upper: You plan on staying in your house for four to five years and see it as a stepping stone to a bigger and better home.

• Forever home: You see this as your permanent home for the foreseeable future and are willing to invest time and money in making it your dream house. 

2. House cladding: What about Planning Permission?

Changing your house’s exterior design may be subject to planning rules set down by your local council. It could also be possible that house cladding falls into the ‘Permitted Development’ category – either way, it’s best to find out beforehand. 

Keep in mind that this does not apply to listed buildings and any house on specially protected types of land, within a National Park or AONB. In such cases, Planning Permission is required. 

3. House cladding: Which materials are right for your home?

Factors which will influence the materials you can choose include your budget, the look of houses in your neighbourhood, and what your local council will approve. Also keep in mind that material costs can vary greatly depending on the intricacies of a project. A lot of suppliers will only work directly with trade, which means you may need to hire a building company or architect for the type of cladding you desire. 

To steer your plans in a certain direction, take a look at the estimated costs of these house cladding materials:

• Timber composite – £105/m²

• Fibre cement weatherboarding – £65/ m²

• Softwood timber cladding (painted or treated) – £50/ m²

• Timber cladding (hardwood) – £90/ m²

• Timber cladding (heat treated)—£80/ m² 

• Concrete tiles – £40/ m²

• Slate tiles – £100/ m² 

• Natural stone – 100/ m²

• Artificial stone – £70/ m²

• Metal – £50/ m²

• PVCu – £50/ m²

• Brick—£60/ m²

• Brick slips – £50-60/ m² (including metal lath substructure and mortar joints) 

• Rendering – £60/ m²

• Three coats of masonry paint – £15/ m²  

4. What the house cladding experts recommend: Brick slips

One of the more popular options for house cladding is brick slips – they are thin (about 20 – 25mm), lightweight, and usually fixed to a backing panel with adhesive. For a realistic and pointed look, mortar is inserted into the gaps. Ranges include reclaimed and handmade finishes in a variety of looks. 

5. What the house cladding experts recommend: Wood

Available in a wide range (from hardwoods and softwoods to shingles and traditional-style weatherboarding), timber cladding remains another top choice. What makes this option so popular is the fact that the wood can be treated to lessen the colour fade brought on by the weather.

For softwoods, regular maintenance may be needed, so we recommend investing in one of the hardwood options if this is for your forever home. 

For something which looks similar to popular timber cladding yet requires less maintenance, consider wood-effect cladding. Usually this consists of pre-painted fibre-cement boards designed to look like wood. Highly durable and available in a variety of colours, you can expect to fork out around £65 per m², fitted. 

6. What the house cladding experts recommend: PVCu

PVCu (Polyvinyl Chloride Un-plasticised) can be one of the cheapest options for your cladding, but keep in mind that certain top-quality versions can cost the same as timber. 

Available in white, coloured and timber effect versions, this material is made from cellular PVC using a process that creates two layers. As the outer skin contains UV-resistant titanium-dioxide, it’s a long-lasting option which requires minimal maintenance. 

Best of all is that PVCu can easily be fitted by skilled DIYers, thanks to it being lightweight and its interlocking boards. Just keep in mind that the lower-cost PVCu options can discolour with time.

7. What to remember before cladding your house

• Exterior cladding is usually fixed to a wall via timber battens or a steel frame (which is directly attached to the structural walls), depending on which material you choose. 

• Cladding or render can also help improve your home’s insulation (rendering tends to be the less costly option).

• Certain cladding options may have a rainscreen – a breathable weatherproof system that helps water drain away, lessening the chances of built-up condensation. 

• It’s not always necessary to clad the whole house – sometimes treating just the upper or lower half of a property and painting the rest can still be sufficient. 

• Always check the warranties of cladding materials before buying, and ensure that your building insurance provider is happy with your choice.

• Cladding options are available as untreated, pre-treated, stained or painted – the unfinished options are usually the most affordable. 

Let’s see how you can go about Improving a home without planning permission

Exterior cladding trends

Keeping up with the trends is essential when renovating or making over your home, and using newer materials for house cladding is an excellent solution for giving your house an update. Fibre cement is one of the types of cladding that is gaining popularity among architects and house owners alike. The innovative material, which is composed of cement, cellulose, textile fibres, water and air, is a sustainable option by when it comes to exterior cladding for houses. Its manufacture requires fewer raw materials, uses less energy and produces less waste besides providing better insulation. Moreover, it significantly reduces the weight of the house’s exterior.

Exterior wall cladding ideas, UK – Customisation is the future

Another advantage of fibre cement cladding is that it can be customised to resemble other materials, including timber, without any of the disadvantages, making it maintenance-free and durable. With a choice of colours and finishes, it can perfectly blend into any design style. It can also be used for garden sheds and fences.

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