Porcelain products have been growing in popularity for some years now, but it is large-format porcelain that’s grabbing the attention of the New Zealand market.

The latest innovation in large-format cladding takes the form of a lightweight porcelain panel cavity system, of which panels are available in sizes up to 3m x 1.5m, meaning the design possibilities are significantly extended for architects and designers,” porcelain cladding expert John Richmond of Maximum says.

The large-format porcelain system is available in a range of about 20 different finishes, many of which are indistinguishable from top-end natural stones, concrete, basalt or steel.

“Because they are made of porcelain, the panels will also outperform the materials they mimic so for example, you can achieve a metal look that won’t rust, or a concrete look that is incredibly lightweight, or a natural stone look.”

It’s a simple cavity system that is suitable for fixing to timber frame, steel frame or masonry (tilt slab, blockwork or poured concrete) substrates. The CodeMark certified system encapsulates a comprehensive building cladding envelope that is inclusive of cavity battens, compressed cement backing board, fixings, adhesive and the decorative porcelain cladding materials.

“While this is an innovative cladding system, because it has achieved CodeMark certification the requirement for what is increasingly becoming an extended proof of compliance process for other new products, whereby regulatory bodies request expensive additional testing, product assurance, peer reviews and engineers’ statements without any guarantee that such a due diligence process will ever be brought to a conclusion or result in building consent being issued, has all been eliminated,” Maximum’s Libby Parkinson says.

“This means that because it is CodeMark certified, compliance is guaranteed and local consent authorities are required to accept that the system is fit for purpose.”

“We’re finding that this system is particularly popular in recladding projects because of its thin format (it is available variously in 6mm, 10mm or 12mm thick) which means it’s relatively simple to achieve a monolithic look without extensive work around detailing,” John says. “The very large size and thin format can make it an ideal proposition for the recladding of monolithic plaster-clad buildings, without requiring significant considerations with respect to redesigning the general aesthetics of the building envelope,” John says.

Porcelain itself is a remarkably dense material allowing for a certain durability that lots of other natural materials can’t achieve. “The system can also be specified with a surface finish that essentially means the panels become self-cleaning – the finish reacts with UV light and means a shower of rain will wipe the panels clean and take away the need for regular maintenance,” Libby says.

Aesthetically, the large format panels can be used to achieve a distinct design. In residential formats, that can mean a monolithic look from deck level to eave level without joins.

The panels themselves require no sealants, waxes, epoxies or man-made binders or artificial colouring agents and they’re made with 100 percent natural recycled materials including sand, quartz and clay.

Get in touch with Maximum on ArchiPro here to discuss how you can incorporate large-format porcelain cladding in your next project.