What is the most cost effective cladding in New Zealand? - Building NZ
What is the most cost effective cladding in New Zealand?

What is the most cost effective cladding in New Zealand?

With an extensive range of options available when considering house cladding, cost effectiveness is right up there among the top considerations - whether budget conscious or not, it is always important to know that you are getting value for money.

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

With an extensive range of options available when considering house cladding, cost-effectiveness is right up there among the top considerations - whether budget conscious or not, it is always important to know that you are getting value for money. 

While the aesthetic appeal of a home is important, its durability is of greater importance. It is vital to consider more than the initial costs when looking for the best cladding solution - it may be that the cheapest exterior cladding is not the most effective option and not the most cost-effective in the long run.

What can I expect to pay for cladding in New Zealand?

Cladding costs (or recladding costs) will be high on the list of considerations, particularly cost per square metre. These can vary hugely, from around $182 per square metre to install pine weatherboards, to $240 per square metre for more expensive cladding options such as cedar.

Despite the discrepancy, when maintenance costs are considered, the lowest cost cladding option may end up more expensive in the long term.

What are the lifetime costs of the different cladding options?

Lifetime cost comparison is often used to assess the most cost-effective materials. This takes into account both the initial cost and later expenses related to maintenance. Sheet steel is the cheapest option when weighing up lifetime costs, followed by sheet plywood. PVC, fibre cement and timber weatherboards are the more expensive options.

The visual appeal of a home will also contribute to its value, and it should be considered that more costly and durable claddings will generally maintain their appeal for far longer than their less pricey counterparts. This affects the resale value and therefore should be considered when assessing the cost-effectiveness of a cladding.

Board & Batten Cedar Weatherboards from Rosenfeld Kidson & Co.

What are the various life expectancies of the different cladding solutions?

There is a surprising spread of life expectancies for different cladding materials. Corrugated steel cladding comes in the lowest, at around 20 years, with clay brick or concrete cladding likely to last up to 80 years.

When maintenance costs are considered, however, corrugated steel remains a cost effective option, at between $3 and $7.90 per square metre, as opposed to fibre cement weatherboards, which may last up to 40 years, but when considering lifetime costs, fall between $11 and $15 per square metre.

How cost effective is weatherboard cladding?

Omnipresent radiata pine bevel-back weatherboard has been a long-time fixture of residential construction in New Zealand. However, it requires extensive maintenance, is susceptible to decay and prone to coastal corrosion or darkening with prolonged UV exposure. Cedar cladding may be a better option, with a conservative expected lifespan of 25 – 35 years.

In contrast, fibre cement weatherboards offer a higher density, with an expected minimum lifespan of around 50 years and still fall within the ‘affordable’ category – and are therefore a popular choice.

Can plaster cladding be a cost-effective solution?

With strong design, flashing details and healthy maintenance regimes, many monolithic plaster clad buildings suffer none of the effects of the ‘leaky building’ epidemic.

The broad term ‘plaster cladding’ actually includes three quite different systems - Stucco, EIFS (Exterior Insulated Finishing System) and fibre cement sheets. Stucco, the oldest of the three, provides a solid and extremely durable exterior to a home. EIFS, is known for its durability, design flexibility and high energy efficiency. Meanwhile, fibre cement sheets have many impressive qualities including a long lifespan, heat and fire resistance, resistance to warping and rotting and being largely weather resistant.

What is aluminium cladding?

Aluminium is highly durable, corrosion resistant, about a third of the weight of steel – and completely recyclable. Large wall panels require fewer joints, generating efficiencies in installation, which has contributed to aluminium cladding becoming the second most used building material in New Zealand, behind only steel.

A particularly flexible metal, aluminium can provide for modern and individual design, and is often chosen by architects for this reason. Aluminium is therefore an effective cladding both in terms of whole-of-life value for money – and visual appeal.

Papanui Club from Ambro Metals

What are the benefits of vinyl cladding? 

Vinyl cladding is an incredibly versatile, durable and low maintenance material, and should be considered a front runner when considering cost-effective cladding.

Lightweight, it is extremely fast, and therefore cost effective, to install, and requires less scaffolding, and no need for further finishing on site.

Isn’t brick the most cost effective cladding?

Brick is a timeless, safe and sought-after cladding solution. It is low maintenance and has one of, if not the, highest level of durability of any of the cladding types, making it incredibly cost-effective over the course of its lifetime.

One factor to consider in the cost-effectiveness of building with solid brick is that, unlike its lighter-weight counterparts—that can be fixed externally to the framing—it needs to be laid directly onto the slab foundation. Some feel that this can compromise the overall square meterage of the home, although, in reality any such encroachment is minor and brick still remains a cost-effective and long-lasting cladding solution.

For people wanting the look of brick cladding, but as a light-weight alternative, there are a number of brick veneer products on the market.

Do any other factors impact on the cost-effectiveness of a cladding?

There are a number of factors to consider when weighing up types of cladding. The location of the building is important, (is it exposed to high winds, likely to experience earthquakes or in a snowy or coastal region?), but also thermal efficiency, fire rating and the sustainability of the materials.

For it to be cost-effective, the chosen cladding solution must stand the test of time – so it will need to suit the terrain and the environment.

Top banner image credit: West House from Higham Architecture


Livenzsa Brick, San Selmo Corso Range Website Save by Austral Bricks
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