Cladding is an exterior material used in buildings, to provide weatherproof protection, as well as enhance the external appearance of a dwelling. The materials used for this application can vary, depending on the weather conditions, a specific elevation might have to withstand, as well as cost limitations and preferred textures or finishes. The material chosen, can have a significant impact on the environmental performance of the building. In this post I will focus on the impact of some of the materials available for cladding systems:
- Aluminium and steel: Although they are both 100% recyclable, they have high embodied energy. Both are durable and require little maintenance.
- Fibre Cement: Not recyclable, but has low embodied energy. Low maintenance.
- Brick: The most common cladding system in Australia. High embodied energy, but low maintenance if unpainted.
- Timber Weatherboard: Very low embodied energy, but most required high amounts of maintenance. Some companies offer low maintenance and highly durable weatherboards.
- Reconstituted Timber: Not recycled, but has low embodied energy. It also requires low to moderate maintenance after painted.
- Plywood: Low to moderate embodied energy, and it is not recyclable. It also requires low to moderate maintenance.
A good balance between embodied energy, maintenance requirements, appropriate lifecycle and energy (thermal) efficiency can greatly reduce the impact of the building on the environment. There is also other important factors that come into play when selecting the right cladding systems for your development; such as breathability, insulation and fire resistance.
Disclaimer: this guide should not be used as sole guideline for any application, construction or intent to build any development.