Beyond face value

Beyond face value

Understanding the complexity that is modern cladding.

Words by Justin Foote

For the majority of us, the most we think about cladding is whether or not it lends our house that elusive “street appeal” we hear so much about—and to grumble about it when it comes time to maintain it.

Sure, it’s not likely to be at the top of the list for your next dinner party conversation, but considering it’s essentially holding together the biggest asset you own, don’t you think it deserves a bit more of your attention?

ArchiPro asked three builders—Willie de Gruchy of WG de Gruchy Construction, Mark Dawson of Dawson Construction and William Lindesay of Lindesay Construction—to give us the inside scoop on everything you could possibly want to know about cladding but were too afraid to ask.

ArchiPro: What do you think is the biggest misconception about cladding that most people have?

Willie de Gruchy: Underestimating the actual level of maintenance required for the chosen system after the install process. They all generally need some form of maintenance and some a lot more than others.

Mark Dawson: I think people tend to forget that the majority of cladding types still require maintenance—regular washing, staining, painting, etc. New Zealand’s environment can be extremely harsh on materials, paints and stains, especially on the northern and western faces of buildings. A bit of maintenance on a regular basis certainly helps prolong the life, quality and look of the cladding.

William Lindesay: That the envelope needs to be ‘sealed’—we need to accept that water can get in and it needs a path to get out again. The cavity is the most important aspect of the cladding system. The word ‘system’ is an important thing to note—it isn’t just an external skin, it is an entire system of shielding rain, expelling any moisture, and aiding ventilating and breathing.

Timber cladding helps to blend award-winning Dunalistair House by Dawson Construction into the surroundings.
Timber cladding helps to blend award-winning Dunalistair House by Dawson Construction into the surroundings.

AP: Of all the cladding options out there, which is the one you enjoy working with the most and why?

WdG: As a carpenter who loves working with timber, it’s pretty hard to go past cedar weatherboards. There are so many profiles and finishes, it’s beautiful to work with and when looked after properly, very durable.

MD: Cedar is still a great cladding to work with. There are a multitude of options in terms of profiles these days—vertical, horizontal, gauges, face finishes—it is easy to cut and fix and is relatively easy to maintain.

WL: It would have to be Western Red Cedar, for the following reasons: it is a natural product; it is lightweight, dimensionally stable and naturally ‘treated’; it absorbs both water-based and oil-based stains easily; and, the natural variation in base colour is, I think, very attractive.

AP: Tried and tested or new and innovative—in your experience, are homeowners choosing one over the other?

WdG: It’s usually been tried and tested for us but with slight changes and variations to how it's profiled/installed/applied or dressed up with other surrounding trim.

MD: I’ve found a bit of both, actually. We work in the high-end of the market with architects, generally, and they tend to like a mixture in terms of cladding options—for example cedar and in situ concrete, which look great together. Copper and aluminium cladding are also becoming more common and again, look great with cedar and concrete. In situ concrete work is fantastic—a lot of work to get right but it looks awesome and it offers a huge range of options in terms of the face finish.

WL: Tried and tested – I think the leaky building scenario has made both homeowners and councils risk averse.

Charcoal zinc and fibre cement cladding has been teamed with white timber cladding to striking effect in Minimalist New House by Dawson Construction.
Charcoal zinc and fibre cement cladding has been teamed with white timber cladding to striking effect in Minimalist New House by Dawson Construction.

AP: What trends should we be keeping an eye on in coming years?

WdG: Probably more composite products will continue to come out and I will be interested to see what keeps happening with the modification of the usual timbers such as pine with Accoya and Thermowood.

MD: I think there may be a move towards more maintenance-free cladding options–pre-finished and produced in an environmentally friendly way–which at present can be, initially at least, relatively costly. However, as they become more readily available the cost will come down making them, in the long term, cost-effective. We are extremely lucky in New Zealand, I think, in that we have a lot of bespoke and clever architecture and not only at the high-end of the market. This doesn’t always help the client’s budget but it means we have some very cool buildings (large and small), with innovative uses of space, as well as a constantly evolving array of materials to work with.

I think there will be an emphasis towards products grown or manufactured in New Zealand.

WL: Locally-sourced products–with current uncertainty around imported goods due to the current pandemic and more of a focus on sustainability and transport costs, I think there will be an emphasis towards products grown or manufactured in New Zealand. Also, I hope there will be a step away from toxic materials (H3.2 treated pine, fibre-cement sheets, etc) that are slowly poisoning our builders.

Herne Bay House by Lindesay Construction uses a captivating combination of mixed materials, including punched aluminium cladding and tilt slab concrete.
Herne Bay House by Lindesay Construction uses a captivating combination of mixed materials, including punched aluminium cladding and tilt slab concrete.

AP: What product/s are you particularly enamoured with this year and what is it about it/them that has you excited?

WdG: Some of the plaster finishes that the big manufacturers are putting out are interesting.

MD: We really like concrete in situ work. It can be tricky but looks fantastic, goes well with a multitude of other cladding products, works well internally as well as externally and from a general maintenance and durability perspective, it is superb. The same goes for metal cladding—copper, zinc etc.

WL: We are doing a lot of in situ concrete walls at the moment and of varying finishes—board form, smooth, bamboo form, sand-blasted, coloured, etc—it is such an honest material and when we insulate it, it becomes cladding, structure and internal lining. It is much more challenging than it looks but extremely rewarding. We’re also looking into locally available alternatives to cedar such as Totara, which we’ve used in the past.

Bamboo-form concrete cladding, by Lindesay Construction.
Bamboo-form concrete cladding, by Lindesay Construction.

AP: What is the one piece of advice you give to all your clients about choosing the right cladding?

WdG: Ensure they understand what the limitations and maintenance requirements are.

MD: In general, I would say your architect would be a good starting point. But definitely think about the ongoing maintenance and weigh this up against the look and other factors such as cost and durability. For example, staining is easier than painting, but it needs to be done more regularly (scaffold costs, labour etc); the southern aspects of a building don’t tend to get much sun, so consider how the cladding will react to this long-term (eg mould, dampness etc). Also, are you a home handy-man type in terms of maintenance, or is your preference to outsource this?

WL: Being builders, we don’t specify products. I guess there needs to be balance around aesthetics and durability. Most systems will work fine, what is more important is all the junctions and interfaces between products.

Timber board and batten cladding produces a fresh appearance for this Herne Bay Home by WG de Gruchy Construction.
Timber board and batten cladding produces a fresh appearance for this Herne Bay Home by WG de Gruchy Construction.

AP: What would the perfect cladding system look like if you were to invent it?

WdG: It would have no discrete disclaimers, it would be 100 per cent weatherproof, look better with time and need minimal maintenance.

MD: Crickey, a tricky question. If I get this wrong, there could be a whole lot of suppliers who may not send us any more product… In my humble opinion, a cladding system that was not overly labour intensive once on site, was to a high degree pre-finished (so didn’t require painting or staining once erected) and was maintenance free (besides the odd wash perhaps). I like cladding with some sort of texture in general—expressed joints or seems, negative details, gauge changes, textured surfaces etc—but getting this, along with the other aspects above, does not always marry up.

WL: I often think about all the plastic in the world—and the fact that it is here forever. Given we want our buildings to last as long as possible, it would make sense to me to use recycled plastic for cladding—it would use up waste and last ‘forever’. If we can recycle milk bottles into polar fleece jackets, then surely, we can also use them to make some interesting building products. The trick would be getting it to look good and to be inert. But again, the moulding process would lend itself to the interesting forms that concrete can achieve.

Find out more about cladding options for your next project.

Top banner image credit: WG de Gruchy Construction, combined quarried basalt stone cladding with glazing and steel.

ArchiPro

ArchiPro is the place where beautifully designed spaces begin

Recommended reading
Done tagging
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Beyond face value
Beyond face value

Beyond face value

Understanding the complexity that is modern cladding.

Words by Justin Foote

For the majority of us, the most we think about cladding is whether or not it lends our house that elusive “street appeal” we hear so much about—and to grumble about it when it comes time to maintain it.

Sure, it’s not likely to be at the top of the list for your next dinner party conversation, but considering it’s essentially holding together the biggest asset you own, don’t you think it deserves a bit more of your attention?

ArchiPro asked three builders—Willie de Gruchy of WG de Gruchy Construction, Mark Dawson of Dawson Construction and William Lindesay of Lindesay Construction—to give us the inside scoop on everything you could possibly want to know about cladding but were too afraid to ask.

ArchiPro: What do you think is the biggest misconception about cladding that most people have?

Willie de Gruchy: Underestimating the actual level of maintenance required for the chosen system after the install process. They all generally need some form of maintenance and some a lot more than others.

Mark Dawson: I think people tend to forget that the majority of cladding types still require maintenance—regular washing, staining, painting, etc. New Zealand’s environment can be extremely harsh on materials, paints and stains, especially on the northern and western faces of buildings. A bit of maintenance on a regular basis certainly helps prolong the life, quality and look of the cladding.

William Lindesay: That the envelope needs to be ‘sealed’—we need to accept that water can get in and it needs a path to get out again. The cavity is the most important aspect of the cladding system. The word ‘system’ is an important thing to note—it isn’t just an external skin, it is an entire system of shielding rain, expelling any moisture, and aiding ventilating and breathing.

Timber cladding helps to blend award-winning Dunalistair House by Dawson Construction into the surroundings.
Timber cladding helps to blend award-winning Dunalistair House by Dawson Construction into the surroundings.

AP: Of all the cladding options out there, which is the one you enjoy working with the most and why?

WdG: As a carpenter who loves working with timber, it’s pretty hard to go past cedar weatherboards. There are so many profiles and finishes, it’s beautiful to work with and when looked after properly, very durable.

MD: Cedar is still a great cladding to work with. There are a multitude of options in terms of profiles these days—vertical, horizontal, gauges, face finishes—it is easy to cut and fix and is relatively easy to maintain.

WL: It would have to be Western Red Cedar, for the following reasons: it is a natural product; it is lightweight, dimensionally stable and naturally ‘treated’; it absorbs both water-based and oil-based stains easily; and, the natural variation in base colour is, I think, very attractive.

AP: Tried and tested or new and innovative—in your experience, are homeowners choosing one over the other?

WdG: It’s usually been tried and tested for us but with slight changes and variations to how it's profiled/installed/applied or dressed up with other surrounding trim.

MD: I’ve found a bit of both, actually. We work in the high-end of the market with architects, generally, and they tend to like a mixture in terms of cladding options—for example cedar and in situ concrete, which look great together. Copper and aluminium cladding are also becoming more common and again, look great with cedar and concrete. In situ concrete work is fantastic—a lot of work to get right but it looks awesome and it offers a huge range of options in terms of the face finish.

WL: Tried and tested – I think the leaky building scenario has made both homeowners and councils risk averse.

Charcoal zinc and fibre cement cladding has been teamed with white timber cladding to striking effect in Minimalist New House by Dawson Construction.
Charcoal zinc and fibre cement cladding has been teamed with white timber cladding to striking effect in Minimalist New House by Dawson Construction.

AP: What trends should we be keeping an eye on in coming years?

WdG: Probably more composite products will continue to come out and I will be interested to see what keeps happening with the modification of the usual timbers such as pine with Accoya and Thermowood.

MD: I think there may be a move towards more maintenance-free cladding options–pre-finished and produced in an environmentally friendly way–which at present can be, initially at least, relatively costly. However, as they become more readily available the cost will come down making them, in the long term, cost-effective. We are extremely lucky in New Zealand, I think, in that we have a lot of bespoke and clever architecture and not only at the high-end of the market. This doesn’t always help the client’s budget but it means we have some very cool buildings (large and small), with innovative uses of space, as well as a constantly evolving array of materials to work with.

I think there will be an emphasis towards products grown or manufactured in New Zealand.

WL: Locally-sourced products–with current uncertainty around imported goods due to the current pandemic and more of a focus on sustainability and transport costs, I think there will be an emphasis towards products grown or manufactured in New Zealand. Also, I hope there will be a step away from toxic materials (H3.2 treated pine, fibre-cement sheets, etc) that are slowly poisoning our builders.

Herne Bay House by Lindesay Construction uses a captivating combination of mixed materials, including punched aluminium cladding and tilt slab concrete.
Herne Bay House by Lindesay Construction uses a captivating combination of mixed materials, including punched aluminium cladding and tilt slab concrete.

AP: What product/s are you particularly enamoured with this year and what is it about it/them that has you excited?

WdG: Some of the plaster finishes that the big manufacturers are putting out are interesting.

MD: We really like concrete in situ work. It can be tricky but looks fantastic, goes well with a multitude of other cladding products, works well internally as well as externally and from a general maintenance and durability perspective, it is superb. The same goes for metal cladding—copper, zinc etc.

WL: We are doing a lot of in situ concrete walls at the moment and of varying finishes—board form, smooth, bamboo form, sand-blasted, coloured, etc—it is such an honest material and when we insulate it, it becomes cladding, structure and internal lining. It is much more challenging than it looks but extremely rewarding. We’re also looking into locally available alternatives to cedar such as Totara, which we’ve used in the past.

Bamboo-form concrete cladding, by Lindesay Construction.
Bamboo-form concrete cladding, by Lindesay Construction.

AP: What is the one piece of advice you give to all your clients about choosing the right cladding?

WdG: Ensure they understand what the limitations and maintenance requirements are.

MD: In general, I would say your architect would be a good starting point. But definitely think about the ongoing maintenance and weigh this up against the look and other factors such as cost and durability. For example, staining is easier than painting, but it needs to be done more regularly (scaffold costs, labour etc); the southern aspects of a building don’t tend to get much sun, so consider how the cladding will react to this long-term (eg mould, dampness etc). Also, are you a home handy-man type in terms of maintenance, or is your preference to outsource this?

WL: Being builders, we don’t specify products. I guess there needs to be balance around aesthetics and durability. Most systems will work fine, what is more important is all the junctions and interfaces between products.

Timber board and batten cladding produces a fresh appearance for this Herne Bay Home by WG de Gruchy Construction.
Timber board and batten cladding produces a fresh appearance for this Herne Bay Home by WG de Gruchy Construction.

AP: What would the perfect cladding system look like if you were to invent it?

WdG: It would have no discrete disclaimers, it would be 100 per cent weatherproof, look better with time and need minimal maintenance.

MD: Crickey, a tricky question. If I get this wrong, there could be a whole lot of suppliers who may not send us any more product… In my humble opinion, a cladding system that was not overly labour intensive once on site, was to a high degree pre-finished (so didn’t require painting or staining once erected) and was maintenance free (besides the odd wash perhaps). I like cladding with some sort of texture in general—expressed joints or seems, negative details, gauge changes, textured surfaces etc—but getting this, along with the other aspects above, does not always marry up.

WL: I often think about all the plastic in the world—and the fact that it is here forever. Given we want our buildings to last as long as possible, it would make sense to me to use recycled plastic for cladding—it would use up waste and last ‘forever’. If we can recycle milk bottles into polar fleece jackets, then surely, we can also use them to make some interesting building products. The trick would be getting it to look good and to be inert. But again, the moulding process would lend itself to the interesting forms that concrete can achieve.

Find out more about cladding options for your next project.

Top banner image credit: WG de Gruchy Construction, combined quarried basalt stone cladding with glazing and steel.

ArchiPro

ArchiPro is the place where beautifully designed spaces begin

Recommended reading
Done tagging
Full screen
Beyond face value

Beyond face value

Understanding the complexity that is modern cladding.

Words by Justin Foote

For the majority of us, the most we think about cladding is whether or not it lends our house that elusive “street appeal” we hear so much about—and to grumble about it when it comes time to maintain it.

Sure, it’s not likely to be at the top of the list for your next dinner party conversation, but considering it’s essentially holding together the biggest asset you own, don’t you think it deserves a bit more of your attention?

ArchiPro asked three builders—Willie de Gruchy of WG de Gruchy Construction, Mark Dawson of Dawson Construction and William Lindesay of Lindesay Construction—to give us the inside scoop on everything you could possibly want to know about cladding but were too afraid to ask.

ArchiPro: What do you think is the biggest misconception about cladding that most people have?

Willie de Gruchy: Underestimating the actual level of maintenance required for the chosen system after the install process. They all generally need some form of maintenance and some a lot more than others.

Mark Dawson: I think people tend to forget that the majority of cladding types still require maintenance—regular washing, staining, painting, etc. New Zealand’s environment can be extremely harsh on materials, paints and stains, especially on the northern and western faces of buildings. A bit of maintenance on a regular basis certainly helps prolong the life, quality and look of the cladding.

William Lindesay: That the envelope needs to be ‘sealed’—we need to accept that water can get in and it needs a path to get out again. The cavity is the most important aspect of the cladding system. The word ‘system’ is an important thing to note—it isn’t just an external skin, it is an entire system of shielding rain, expelling any moisture, and aiding ventilating and breathing.

Timber cladding helps to blend award-winning Dunalistair House by Dawson Construction into the surroundings.
Timber cladding helps to blend award-winning Dunalistair House by Dawson Construction into the surroundings.

AP: Of all the cladding options out there, which is the one you enjoy working with the most and why?

WdG: As a carpenter who loves working with timber, it’s pretty hard to go past cedar weatherboards. There are so many profiles and finishes, it’s beautiful to work with and when looked after properly, very durable.

MD: Cedar is still a great cladding to work with. There are a multitude of options in terms of profiles these days—vertical, horizontal, gauges, face finishes—it is easy to cut and fix and is relatively easy to maintain.

WL: It would have to be Western Red Cedar, for the following reasons: it is a natural product; it is lightweight, dimensionally stable and naturally ‘treated’; it absorbs both water-based and oil-based stains easily; and, the natural variation in base colour is, I think, very attractive.

AP: Tried and tested or new and innovative—in your experience, are homeowners choosing one over the other?

WdG: It’s usually been tried and tested for us but with slight changes and variations to how it's profiled/installed/applied or dressed up with other surrounding trim.

MD: I’ve found a bit of both, actually. We work in the high-end of the market with architects, generally, and they tend to like a mixture in terms of cladding options—for example cedar and in situ concrete, which look great together. Copper and aluminium cladding are also becoming more common and again, look great with cedar and concrete. In situ concrete work is fantastic—a lot of work to get right but it looks awesome and it offers a huge range of options in terms of the face finish.

WL: Tried and tested – I think the leaky building scenario has made both homeowners and councils risk averse.

Charcoal zinc and fibre cement cladding has been teamed with white timber cladding to striking effect in Minimalist New House by Dawson Construction.
Charcoal zinc and fibre cement cladding has been teamed with white timber cladding to striking effect in Minimalist New House by Dawson Construction.

AP: What trends should we be keeping an eye on in coming years?

WdG: Probably more composite products will continue to come out and I will be interested to see what keeps happening with the modification of the usual timbers such as pine with Accoya and Thermowood.

MD: I think there may be a move towards more maintenance-free cladding options–pre-finished and produced in an environmentally friendly way–which at present can be, initially at least, relatively costly. However, as they become more readily available the cost will come down making them, in the long term, cost-effective. We are extremely lucky in New Zealand, I think, in that we have a lot of bespoke and clever architecture and not only at the high-end of the market. This doesn’t always help the client’s budget but it means we have some very cool buildings (large and small), with innovative uses of space, as well as a constantly evolving array of materials to work with.

I think there will be an emphasis towards products grown or manufactured in New Zealand.

WL: Locally-sourced products–with current uncertainty around imported goods due to the current pandemic and more of a focus on sustainability and transport costs, I think there will be an emphasis towards products grown or manufactured in New Zealand. Also, I hope there will be a step away from toxic materials (H3.2 treated pine, fibre-cement sheets, etc) that are slowly poisoning our builders.

Herne Bay House by Lindesay Construction uses a captivating combination of mixed materials, including punched aluminium cladding and tilt slab concrete.
Herne Bay House by Lindesay Construction uses a captivating combination of mixed materials, including punched aluminium cladding and tilt slab concrete.

AP: What product/s are you particularly enamoured with this year and what is it about it/them that has you excited?

WdG: Some of the plaster finishes that the big manufacturers are putting out are interesting.

MD: We really like concrete in situ work. It can be tricky but looks fantastic, goes well with a multitude of other cladding products, works well internally as well as externally and from a general maintenance and durability perspective, it is superb. The same goes for metal cladding—copper, zinc etc.

WL: We are doing a lot of in situ concrete walls at the moment and of varying finishes—board form, smooth, bamboo form, sand-blasted, coloured, etc—it is such an honest material and when we insulate it, it becomes cladding, structure and internal lining. It is much more challenging than it looks but extremely rewarding. We’re also looking into locally available alternatives to cedar such as Totara, which we’ve used in the past.

Bamboo-form concrete cladding, by Lindesay Construction.
Bamboo-form concrete cladding, by Lindesay Construction.

AP: What is the one piece of advice you give to all your clients about choosing the right cladding?

WdG: Ensure they understand what the limitations and maintenance requirements are.

MD: In general, I would say your architect would be a good starting point. But definitely think about the ongoing maintenance and weigh this up against the look and other factors such as cost and durability. For example, staining is easier than painting, but it needs to be done more regularly (scaffold costs, labour etc); the southern aspects of a building don’t tend to get much sun, so consider how the cladding will react to this long-term (eg mould, dampness etc). Also, are you a home handy-man type in terms of maintenance, or is your preference to outsource this?

WL: Being builders, we don’t specify products. I guess there needs to be balance around aesthetics and durability. Most systems will work fine, what is more important is all the junctions and interfaces between products.

Timber board and batten cladding produces a fresh appearance for this Herne Bay Home by WG de Gruchy Construction.
Timber board and batten cladding produces a fresh appearance for this Herne Bay Home by WG de Gruchy Construction.

AP: What would the perfect cladding system look like if you were to invent it?

WdG: It would have no discrete disclaimers, it would be 100 per cent weatherproof, look better with time and need minimal maintenance.

MD: Crickey, a tricky question. If I get this wrong, there could be a whole lot of suppliers who may not send us any more product… In my humble opinion, a cladding system that was not overly labour intensive once on site, was to a high degree pre-finished (so didn’t require painting or staining once erected) and was maintenance free (besides the odd wash perhaps). I like cladding with some sort of texture in general—expressed joints or seems, negative details, gauge changes, textured surfaces etc—but getting this, along with the other aspects above, does not always marry up.

WL: I often think about all the plastic in the world—and the fact that it is here forever. Given we want our buildings to last as long as possible, it would make sense to me to use recycled plastic for cladding—it would use up waste and last ‘forever’. If we can recycle milk bottles into polar fleece jackets, then surely, we can also use them to make some interesting building products. The trick would be getting it to look good and to be inert. But again, the moulding process would lend itself to the interesting forms that concrete can achieve.

Find out more about cladding options for your next project.

Top banner image credit: WG de Gruchy Construction, combined quarried basalt stone cladding with glazing and steel.

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