Wall claddings have been in use since the beginning of human settlements. Initially stone, wood and bricks were mostly used as cladding material. These claddings did not only enhance aesthetics of buildings but was also an extra layer of protection from weather, burglary, wear & tear and provided extra strength to the structure. The elevation and facades were also associated with the nature and status of the users i.e. for Royal residences and forts mostly stone claddings were used, while for Administrative buildings Bricks in combination of stone were used. Terracotta tiles were used in Ancient India and remains of the same can be seen till today expanding from Afghanistan to India.
For Architects, climate and culture have been the key factors to select cladding material for their buildings. Today there are variety of materials available, however stress is on using Sustainable material. Let us have a look at various exterior cladding materials available:
- Wood/Timber: It is most widely used cladding material for cold and hilly areas of India, due to its insulation property. As timber is abundant in such areas and very cost effective.
- Concrete & Cement: The most versatile material, comes under so many varieties such as cement tiles, concrete panels and composite cement boards and planks.
- Stone: Traditionally it can be seen in most significant monuments and historical structures. In modern context it complements materials such as steel and concrete.
- Glass: Structural glass is architects favourite material while designing commercial and modern residences.
- UPVC Cladding: Most commonly used cladding system in hilly areas and Prefab structures. It is the most economical cladding when used without insulation filling and very durable.
- Tiles: Ceramic tiles and clay tiles are the most commonly used tiles for façade. However cement and composite tiles have become very popular over past few decades.
- Metal Cladding: One of the new favourites of modern Architects, due its mouldable properties, light weight and ease of installation.