A Guide to External Finishes and Render Options for UK Residents

A Guide to External Finishes and Render Options for UK Residents

The application of external finishes to a residential property serves two primary functions:

  1. It shields the building's wall from weather-induced damage, such as the impact of rainfall.
  2. It enhances the visual appeal of the property, adding a pleasing aesthetic touch.

Categories of External finishes and Renders

Cement Render

Acrylic render, a popular choice in contemporary home construction, is typically applied as a thin finishing layer to elevate the property's visual appeal. During its production, small fibres are included to ensure a durable finish and to resist cracking once the material has been applied to the building. The use of silicone in the process extends the lifespan of the product and endows it with self-cleaning capabilities.

Cement Render

Cement, mixed on-site for rendering, generally involves three or four application layers on the building facade, with the top coat polished to a glossy finish. While the materials used to produce the cement are relatively inexpensive, the labour involved can be costly. This type of render typically requires regular repainting to retain its aesthetic allure.

Lime Render by Dependon limited
Lime Render

Lime Render

Available in multiple formats like lime putties or bagged hydraulic limes, lime render is somewhat more challenging to apply and slightly pricier than alternatives like Portland cement. Lime render also necessitates on-site mixing.

Monocouche Render

Sold in bags for mixing with water, monocouche render is usually applied manually with a trowel or sprayed onto the wall surface. This render comes pre-coloured in a variety of shades, includes a weatherproofing layer, and contains additives that minimise the likelihood of cracking. The material is also self-cleaning. Although the materials for monocouche render can be costly, the ease of application reduces labour costs and eliminates the need for subsequent painting.

New suburban Australian house with small SOLD sign.

Polymer Render

Polymer render is sold pre-mixed in diverse colours, based on either white cement or lime. The production process includes the addition of polymers and other plastic-based products to reduce the propensity for cracking, thereby enhancing the finish's lifespan.Types of External Cladding

Timber Cladding

Timber cladding is popular for its natural aesthetic appeal, particularly for residential properties. It mimics the traditional timber frame style and adds a charming touch to any building exterior.

External Finishes with Dependon Limited
External Finishes

Benefits of Timber Cladding:

  • Easy installation: Timber's lightweight nature facilitates rapid installation by labourers, reducing construction costs.
  • Energy efficiency: Timber's low thermal conductivity compared to steel and concrete reduces the building's energy consumption for heating and cooling, making it a cost-effective choice.
  • Eco-friendly: Unlike many construction materials, timber is a renewable and 100% recyclable resource, making it a truly green building option.
  • Versatility: Timber can be trimmed to any shape to meet clients' demands and is available in diverse patterns.
  • Durability: With proper and regular maintenance, timber cladding can last for years. The manufacturing process often enhances its durability and fire resistance. Certain timber species, such as Western Red Cedar or Douglas fir, have a naturally longer lifespan than other types of wood.

Concrete Cladding

Concrete cladding, often seen in commercial buildings, comes in the form of cladded tiles. These tiles, although durable and requiring minimal annual maintenance, are limited in shape variety and require longer installation times, leading to higher labour costs.

Fibre Cement Cladding

This cladding sheet, a low-cost blend of cellular fibre, compressed sand, water, and cement, is straightforward to install and available in a range of colours and effects. It arrives from the factory already painted or stained and needs minimal annual cleaning, with no need for repainting or restaining.

Metal Cladding

Commonly used in commercial buildings like business parks and offices, metal cladding comes in various forms, all easily customisable to client specifications. Steel cladding, robust, low-maintenance, and visually appealing, is a popular choice for commercial purposes. However, it can be costly, making it less favourable on a tight budget, and offers poor thermal insulation. Aluminium cladding, on the other hand, is affordable, low-maintenance, and easy to install but can appear cheap if poorly designed and is prone to damage. Like steel, aluminium also delivers subpar thermal insulation performance.

Stone Cladding

Stone cladding is a favourite for residential buildings, offering a natural aesthetic and sometimes combined with another exterior finish or render for added depth. This material is an excellent insulator and incredibly durable, capable of withstanding years of weathering. Stone cladding can be an expensive choice in terms of installation and maintenance, but if budget constraints are not an issue, it's a worthy option due to the myriad benefits it provides.

Vinyl Cladding or Vinyl Siding

Primarily designed for residential exteriors, vinyl cladding comes in various colours and patterns and is cost-effective due to its insulating properties, reducing the heating and cooling costs. While it requires little to no maintenance and can resist harsh weather conditions, the colour may fade over time, requiring replacement every 5-7 years. A significant downside is that this material can mask issues like dampness, facilitating mould growth, and can release harmful toxins when exposed to high temperatures, posing an environmental risk.

Weatherboard Cladding

Frequently used on residential properties, weatherboard cladding can be implemented with a variety of materials like fibre cement and UPVC in numerous colours and effects. This highly durable cladding method can be applied to many substrates but requires comprehensive annual maintenance for optimal conditions.