Decades ago, almost every home was built from bricks and tiles. Even rendered homes were built from bricks first, then painted or rendered over. However, with the increase in labour costs, brick and tile is now an expensive option.
Weatherboards were also an option, but being a natural product, they were susceptible to weather damage like rot.
Over the years, more and more light weight options have been developed, which stand up to our extreme weather.
My personal top cladding options are:
1. Fibre Cement Sheeting Products
FC sheeting is light weight, cost-effective, easy and fast to install and last for years. It is extremely strong and withstands harsh weather conditions. It also has a reasonably high bushfire rating. Some are pre-painted, but most are painted or even rendered. FC sheeting is available in a huge range of fibre cement sheeting in different patterns from weatherboards to cube shapes and even timber-look panels.
FC sheeting can be used for any facade from hamptons style to ultra-modern facades. My personal favourites are Newport weatherboards, Axon and Stria.
2. Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)
EPS is a compressed polystyrene sheet that is very very light and very quick and easy to install. Render is applied with an embedded mesh, which makes it quite strong. It has a very high energy rating and looks great.
EPS is also available in pillars and window hoods. Using EPS, a home can be given a very modern look without the huge price tag.
EPS is very cost-effective and one of the best options for a rendered finish.
3. Autoclave Aerated Concrete Panels (AAC)
If EPS is not your preferred method and you prefer something closer to block, then AAC is the product to look at. AAC are concrete panels with small air pockets, and sometimes reinforced with strengthening bars. It is very strong and, although heavier than EPS, is still light weight and easy and quick to install.
The only issue with AAC is that it can chip and crack. It does come with a patch kit which and touch-ups do not compromise the structural integrity of the product.
Also, it is a little too heavy for raised homes. Generally the frame needs to be upgraded a little and additional bracing may need to be used.
Due to the thickness, window reveals are larger, so there is a small additional costs in windows.
Tip: be cautious about using natural products or products made from natural products. Many are known to crack, swell, warp, rot and pull away from the frame due to our harsh weather conditions. An exemption to this is merbau timber, which is an excellent product for decking and posts, where most soft woods will deteriorate within months.