Popular amongst homeowners, designers and builders around Australia, external cladding is the ideal choice in homes for its functional and aesthetic properties. Like a protective layer / second skin on the outside of a house, external cladding is ideal in providing insulation, weather resistance and safeguarding homes from the harsh Australian natural elements. Also chosen to add personality and style to the design of a home, cladding is used to approve the appearance of buildings with a large variety of styles, textures and colours.
Demand for fibre cement cladding continues to grow in Australia as it provides increased flexibility with designs and takes up less floor space than brick cladding – as it doesn’t add much to wall thickness. Between 4.5mm HardieFlex Sheets and 27mm the Matrix Cladding Panel and Cavity. Brick veneer, on the other hand, adds a significant 160mm to wall thickness (110mm brick width and 50mm cavity width). The considerable weight of the bricks also needs to sit on a specially designed slab edge whereas James Hardie’s cladding simply hangs off the frame providing bracing and enabling bold designs and articulation.
When architects talk about designing with lightweight materials, they’re referring to the absence of heavyweight brick walls. The extensive James Hardie cladding range offers a variety of textures and looks to choose from which can be used independently or combined to achieve a classic or modern look. Choose from vertical or horizontal shadow lines, timber styles, geometric looks from architectural composite panels, and rendered walls without heavy weight.
Around three quarters of Australian homes are built with timber frames. The frame is constructed first, then the roof, windows, and exterior cladding and internal linings are attached to the frame. Often there is confusion around external cladding – where it is used, and how it works. Fibre cement cladding, building facade systems and weatherboards are engineered for many advantages. James Hardie’s premium fibre cement is durable and resistant to fire, rot, termites and damage from moisture. Typically installed by carpenters, it’s easy to build with and cuts cleanly as sheets and boards less than 9mm thick can be scored and snapped using a score and snap knife. James Hardie fibre cement, compressed fibre cement and Scyon fibre cement products can be easily cut using a circular saw with a dust reducing fibre cement saw blade such as HardieBlade.
Exterior cladding can be made from different materials. Brick veneer or brick cladding typically sits on a specially formed concrete slab edge which allows for an air cavity between the brick stack and the frame. For stability, the bricks are attached to a timber frame with metal brick ties. Weatherboards can be made from natural timber, engineered timber or fibre cement nailed to timber frames or screwed on to light gauge steel frames. The bottom board is installed first then overlapped by the board above producing a weather-tight wall with attractive horizontal shadow lines. Shiplap boards are another type of horizontal cladding which attach directly to the frame and use a tongue and groove style overlap to produce a continuous cladding look, and a more subtle horizontal shadow line than an overlapping weatherboard. Sheet cladding can be made from plywood, but more commonly it’s made from fibre cement sheets and comes in a variety of styles defined by textures and joint treatments. These include a vertical joint timber look, board and batten look and express joint composite panel look. Finally, cladding can achieve a rendered wall look using fibre cement sheets, AAC panels or rendered brickwork. The performance of external walls is becoming more important as the cost of heating and cooling homes continues to rise. Cladding makes little contribution to the thermal efficiency of external walls in frame type construction, so choosing the most effective wall insulation batts is important. James Hardie fibre cement wall systems can be used to create high performing thermal walls. Interestingly, because brick veneer cladding has a high thermal mass it can decrease wall performance because it holds onto the external temperature longer – challenging the insulation and making it more difficult to maintain the internal temperatures. Fibre cement exterior cladding is low maintenance and complies with the National Construction Code (C1.12 part 188.8.131.52) as being deemed non-combustible cladding, which eliminates the risk of having flammable cladding in your home and aids compliance in bushfire prone areas and where fire and acoustic walls are required.