What are the different types of Cladding?

Cladding is the process of covering the primary external surfaces of homes or buildings with another material. Including weather resistance, thermal insulation, and visual aesthetics, external cladding is effective in sustaining the longevity and structural integrity of the building.

There are various options of external cladding available; each delivering unique benefits for different applications. Some of the most common types of cladding for construction include:

  • Stone Cladding uses thin layers or simulations of stones such as marble, slate, and sandstone. This type of cladding fits over concrete and steel surfaces, adding elements of natural aesthetics.
  • Brick Cladding is another type of cladding that creates a more natural and earthy It is one of the most popular types of cladding as it is low-maintenance and adds a degree of sturdiness.
  • Wooden Cladding is a classic and one of the most aesthetically pleasing types of cladding materials. However, it is also one of the more expensive types in terms of installation and maintenance costs.
  • Fiber Cement Cladding is a sturdier, less expensive and low-maintenance alternative to wooden cladding.
  • Concrete Cladding is a form of composite cladding that is installed as concrete panels. It is durable and creates an ultramodern, industrial-esque aesthetics.
    Vinyl or uPVC Cladding is readily used for large-scale residential projects as it delivers value for money and requires close no maintenance. However, it is not as aesthetically pleasing.
  • Metal Cladding comes in further different types of metals. Stainless steel and aluminum cladding remains a popular choice. Stainless steel is known to be extremely resistant to environmental factors. Aluminum cladding is most commonly used in the form of aluminum composite panels or ACM panels in Canada. It is slightly costlier but delivers the most value in terms of longevity, maintenance, and functionality.

What are rainscreen systems?

Excessive moisture retained in walls after heavy rainfalls, storms, floods or snow can quickly become the source of weakened structural integrity and degradation. However, water doesn’t move on its own. It requires gravity, wind, air pressure or capillary action to seep into the walls. The risk of damage is higher for porous material such as bricks and concrete.

Rainscreen systems are installed to prevent water from impinging on the structural integrity of the walls. They are built on the very concept that water needs an external force to move. They are installed over primary surfaces as rain cladding. Here is how a rainscreen system works:

The outer surface of the rainscreen system, i.e. the cladding material, blocks water’s sideways movement. For example, it deflects water when it rains, allowing it to flow downwards along the cladding layer.
The second most important aspect of a rainscreen system is the gap between the cladding layer and the primary surface/wall. Any water that seeps through flow downward along the cladding material’s inner surface, which has a water-resistant barrier. At the bottom of the gap between the wall and cladding, there is a drainage hole so the water can escape.
A gap of at least 3/8th of an inch is crucial for preventing capillary effect.
This is how rainscreen systems keep rainwater away from the wall, preventing it from causing structural damage or mold while sustaining its longevity. Aluminum composite panels of ACPs are effective cladding materials that facilitate the creation of a rainscreen system.

What are the benefits of a rainscreen?

Although a life force, water and excessive moisture retained in walls or foundations of a building can be detrimental for its structural integrity and longevity. It can also be a cause for green or black mold infestation on the exterior or interior sides of the walls.

Rainscreen systems are popular in Canada and were developed to prevent water from seeping through porous construction materials. Cladding materials are installed on top of the primary surface with a ventilation gap to minimize water exposure.

Here are some of the main benefits of a rainscreen system:

  1. Air circulation prompted by the ventilation gap between the cladding and wall facilitates better regulation of condensation and humidity inside and outside the building.
  2. The barrier formed by the cladding in a rainscreen system is also an effective aide to insulation. Pressure equalized rainscreen systems are specifically more effective in adding a layer of thermal and acoustic insulation. With better insulation, the rainscreen system can help improve the building’s Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ).
  3. Rain cladding allows for improved energy efficiency. It does so by deflecting direct sunlight and heat in the summer and reducing humidity, reducing the load off of the HVAC system. In winters, it prevents cold wind and snow from direct contact with the walls, making temperature maintenance easier.

Rainscreen systems featuring metal cladding, specifically Aluminum Composite Panels, also boast fire preventative qualities. Additionally, NORTEM® tries to optimize modern technologies, challenging traditional typologies, and using as many recycled materials as possible. Furthermore, LEED Certified products are also effective in reducing the overall carbon footprint the building might have.

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