Are you wondering what cladding to choose for your new build? Is your existing cladding looking dilapidated and ripe for renovation? Recladding your home will breathe new life into its appearance. In this article, we give you the information to choose the right cladding for your home.

External cladding covers and insulates your home. Building code requirements since 2004 require a dry cavity behind your cladding, further protecting your home from rainwater. Recent news has exposed a flaw in New Zealand law: cladding is only required by law to have a 15-year lifespan. So factor this in when making your decision and opt for a higher-spec product if you have the budget.

How a cladding is maintained dramatically affects the lifespan that can be realised from it. Theoretically, permanent material claddings can last hundreds of years if maintained well. Some resilient timber claddings can exceed 70 years and more if painted regularly. Different cladding materials have different maintenance requirements, so it is best to check with the manufacturer.

To keep your cladding in good order, Ashley Ironmonger of Ardmore Builders offers this advice: “Almost all materials and finishes on the exterior cladding will last longer if they are cleaned from time to time. Once a year is good and 3 times a year next to marine and sea spray zones. A good paint job goes a long way as well. Make sure the paint used is compatible with the cladding.”

What are the types of cladding options available in New Zealand, and how do they stack up against each other?

Masonry

Masonry is heavy and requires structural support plus a continuous foundation. It is weathertight, but also very rigid, thus prone to damage in an earthquake.

  • Stone: Visually stunning but expensive. It adds a high-end appeal to a home, makes a beautiful focus point- for example, on a fireplace or porch.
  • Brick: Used both internally and externally, facing clay bricks can last 60-80 years if well looked after and repointed when needed.

UPVC (Vinyl)

Inexpensive and durable, UPVC cladding needs minimal maintenance. Finish options include smooth and wood grain to achieve a timber effect. It can become brittle in extreme weather environments and has the potential to fade and warp over time. UPVC may need replacing sooner than other cladding types in certain conditions.

Wood

Timber cladding or weatherboard can be fitted to a home’s exterior or interior, giving a warm feel to any building. The natural variation on wood grain gives it individuality. Wood cladding requires regular re-staining or repainting. With careful maintenance, however, you can expect it to last 40 years or more. Under the Building Code new-built homes must include a maintenance programme for any timber cladding in order to be signed off.

Metal – Aluminium and Steel

Metal cladding is available in a range of colours and styles, allowing for a weatherboard, minimalist or industrial look with the same material. Aluminium generally lasts longer than steel and coloured steel. Aluminium and steel are fully recyclable. Metal cladding can last 25 -40 years and longer with maintenance.

Monolith

Newer plaster and concrete cladding are specially adapted to the New Zealand environment, which minimises the risk of cracks emerging in an earthquake.

EIFS is a composite rigid insulation board made from expanded polystyrene, plaster and paint. Many also contain fibreglass or other reinforcing materials. EIFS systems are lightweight, thermal and water-resistant when installed correctly. They require regular maintenance against cracks and chips.

Fibro board, also known as fibrous cement sheet, is an older style of monolith cladding. A common cheap material in post-war building, fibro can contain asbestos. Some houses have had new cladding placed on top of the fibro, so anyone with or considering buying a home built between the 1950’s and the 1970’s should conduct asbestos checks.

Monolith cladding

When making your choice among these cladding options, Ashley of Ardmore Builders says, “The famous saying ‘You get what you pay for’ comes to mind. My top three claddings I would recommend are 1- Brick veneer 2- Timber weatherboard 3- Metal cladding.”

Tips for choosing new cladding options

  • Check the insulation rating (R-value).
  • Balance the installation cost against ongoing savings.
  • Consider your local climate and weather requirements.
  • Consult whether your choice will affect your home’s structural integrity.
  • Check the fire resistance of each option.
  • Utilise our cost estimator to get an idea of your budget.
  • When you decide on your cladding options, post a job to get it done.

Many thanks to our expert tradie for sharing his tips with us. You can find him and many more expert tradespeople on Builderscrack.co.nz.