Cladding panels - the versatile alternative for exterior wall cladding
Cladding panels are available in many forms, shapes colours and textures. There is something to suit almost any project requirement or budget with an associated variation in cost dependent on quality of the material used. There are many types of material used to clad a building which range from the common house brick or tiles through to wood boarding with much in-between. In recent times there has been a marked increase in the desire to use fibre cement as an exterior cladding material. The use of large format cladding panels for external cladding was pioneered both in Scandinavia and North America, probably as an alternative to lathe covered plaster often seen in central Europe.
The current trend away from the construction of traditional housing types towards apartment blocks (alongside initiatives such as Building Schools for the Future) has stimulated unprecedented demand for cladding panels in the construction sector. In the long term it is likely that this upward trend will continue, as demand becomes underpinned by greater awareness of the energy efficiency benefits of cladding, with likely areas for growth such as social housing and healthcare buildings.
From grey to natural toned cladding colours
Originally uncoated metal or asbestos cement would have been predominantly grey. Once paint coatings became available cost effectively in the middle of the last century, dark browns, dark greens and dark greys were the common colours reflecting the colours of the natural wood or stone based materials the man made cladding panels often replaced. By the 1950s lighter shades became more common particularly in metal profiles, partly as a reaction to the post-war drabness against which there was a reaction in popular culture as well as the design and construction world.
Creativity and cladding panels go hand in hand
During the last 2 decades it seems that in the UK there has been an extraordinary burst of creativity in architectural design with much imaginative use of large format cladding panels. Rainscreen cladding designs have become common as the requirements for retro fitting of insulation and urban revitalisation has lead to over-cladding of existing buildings as well as eye-catching new build projects. The contemporary post-modern building with subtle use of colour is now defined by the era of its construction rather than its geographic location, particularly currently as dark grey and black facades are in vogue across Europe.
What is fibre cement cladding panels made of?
Fibre cement cladding panels are man-made from a matrix of cement and cellulose re-inforced with fibres and fillers. The ratio of each ingredient can be varied to ensure that the finished product is able to meet the performance requirements demanded by each application. Click here to learn more about the nature of fibre cement.
Secret Fix cladding
also known as invisible fix has long been a goal of building designers interested in creating an unbroken, uniform façades. Often incorporated into rainscreen cladding systems secret fix can either be mechanical or adhesive based. With both options the fixing is hidden from the outside view. Either option can be used in conjunction with Cembrit Cembonit, Metro and Zenit claddings.
Adhesive fix uses specially developed structural adhesives to bond the panels to the substrate but can be restricted by temperature and on site working conditions. Mechanical secret fixing is secured into the rear of the panel or incorporates a hanging rail or cassette system (usually used with thicker and more expensive materials) often with part of the perimeter of the element held in place. This type of secret fix can be quite complicated and technical . Cembrit Flow secret fix utilises pre grooved panels combined with specially designed profiles which hold the panel in place along its entire length creating a secure fixing with high wind load resistance.
Wall cladding case studies
Be inspired by recent case studies incorporating fibre cement cladding panels: