The term cladding refers to components that are attached to the primary structure of a building to form non-structural, external surfaces and it’s often used to make the exterior look more attractive.
Whilst cladding is generally attached to the structure of the building, it typically does not contribute to its stability; however, it does play a structural role, transferring wind loads, impact loads, snow loads and its own self-weight back to the structural framework.
In particular, wind causes positive and negative pressure on the surface of buildings and cladding must have sufficient strength and stiffness to resist this load, both in terms of the type selected and its connections back to the structure.
The choices you make when it comes to house cladding really are as important as the layout, design and construction method; this decision ultimately dictates what the building will look like, as well as how it will perform and the kind of maintenance it will require over the coming years.
Hard or soft?
At Arnold Laver we carry a huge range of hard and soft wood cladding, as well as engineered timbers such as Accoya and Thermowood. Our hardwoods include the South American trio of cumaru, red louro and ipe, along with the hardwearing and durable oak with its golden brown to almost yellow appearance and straight grain. All of these are versatile timbers which is why they are so popular with architects and specifiers.
With the softwoods (that’s generally ones from conifers), larch has an established track record for projects such as schools, walkways, commercial and public areas where a high-impact, durable and attractive product is required. The colour of larch can vary from golden brown to pale yellow and with its easy workability it lends itself to drilling, sawing and sanding.
The western red cedar has a unique range of properties including workability, performance, versatility and weather resistance, again making it well-liked by architects and specifiers. It also has excellent stability as well as an inherent resistance to decay and fungal attacks.
If you’re already slightly confused as to which type of cladding is the best for you, then the main difference between hard and soft woods is generally cost and maintenance; hardwoods are more expensive but require less TLC whereas softwoods, well you’ll hopefully be able to work the rest out. But sometime is just comes down to the colours and finish and what will work best in a specific environment.
Accoya is regarded as a new wood species and its performance credentials have been extensively researched and repeatedly demonstrated. It is a product that has properties which match those of the best hardwoods, yet, it is manufactured using a non-toxic acetylisation treatment and wood from sustainable sources. The result is an environmentally friendly solid wood with durability, dimensional stability and beauty that matches or exceeds even the best tropic hardwoods.
Thermowood, meanwhile, is a physically engineered timber produced by specialist heat treating Scandinavian redwood and whitewood. It is this alteration in structure that results in a more stable, anti-fungal timber which is ideal for use in exterior applications with a consistent face finish which will grey over time if no stain or paint is applied.
Our final two cladding products come from Formica (remember them?); Vivix and Vivix Lap.
Vivix is a lightweight rainscreen cladding solution that combines excellent weather and ultra-violet resistance properties for enhanced durability and ease of maintenance (it can be simply cleaned with mild detergent and water). It’s an easily machined cladding that can be cut into a variety of shapes and sizes which can also be field modified (see specification PDF here)
Vivix Lap on the other hand is a high-performance weatherboard cladding that performs all year round. It’s an overlap shell system and is packed full of features and benefits, matching performance with outstanding aesthetics, either as full facade cladding or as a design feature in conjunction with other materials.
And there also no need for coatings or treatments, edge sealing or painting, that are typically associated with cement-based and other cladding materials.
With some many options and plus points and minus points, choosing the right cladding can be a bit of a minefield, so at Arnold Laver we work closely with our customers, and where appropriate their clients, to deliver a whole project approach to supplying materials and services. We review your requirements, the budget and the job itself, to help deliver the right solution.
By ensuring the right product is specified and that the programme of delivery is realistic, we work with all parties, including any sub-contractor, to ensure the project is managed successfully through to completion.