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BUILDING FABRIC 45


of the region, with selection echoing the surrounding geological formations and environment in which they were built. Homes constructed near forested areas would use timber, in clay regions bricks would be used, and in the stone belt, stones from quarries were used to build walls.


T


As wall building practice evolved during the 20th century, techniques also changed. From using solid walls as standard, the adoption of a cavity design dividing the wall into an inner and outer wall began to be widely adopted. This meant the inner wall was now responsible for load-bearing duties rather than the thick wooden beams or locally sourced stone of old. With load-bearing duties taken care of, it was possible to suspend the outer wall from the inner wall for weatherproofing purposes. Insulation could be added between the inner and outer wall to achieve heat retention. Since the outer wall no longer needed to be self-supporting, and now had the sole purpose of keeping weather out, this permitted the use of thinner materials. As a result the choice of surfacing available to housebuilders opened up.


INSULATION


Adding insulation to a home requires an application to the local building control department, but when it comes to the cladding itself, Building Regulation approval is not always needed. As long as the home is not in a conservation area, changes can usually be added under permitted development rights. With today’s weatherboarding choices extending beyond timber, brick, stone and render, housebuilders have more freedom to select and change the outside aesthetic of their home. The availability of modern day alternatives has seen the rise of new timber, High Pressure Laminate (HPL), and fibre cement, to name but three examples.


MODERN MATERIALS Timber, an age-old favourite, particularly in Scandinavia, was conventionally stained black or brown when applied as cladding. Easy to install and affordable, the 21st century has seen the adoption of unstained timber such as spruce, cedar and oak as it can last for decades without requiring surface coating, although other surface treatments are needed for the wood to maintain its looks.


One drawback of timber is the limited design choice it offers. Cedar, for example, has become a victim of its own success. It’s become such a popular aesthetic for housing developments in recent years that


raditionally, housebuilding techniques in the UK relied upon the use of local materials typical


OPENING THE ENVELOPE


Simon Wild of Formica Group discusses how the application of cladding using traditional building methods has evolved, and explores the modern materials now on offer.


architects and designers are shunning it in favour of more unusual options. After timber, fibre cement is the most established material for weatherboarding. Although one of the heavier materials to


use for cladding, fibre cement is simple to install and low cost, especially as it can be nailed. Since it can be painted, it is avail- able in a wide choice of colours, although care is needed, as the paint can chip.


TODAY’S MODERN SURFACES MEAN A BUILDING’S EXTERIOR LOOK IS NO LONGER RESTRICTED BY THE MATERIALS FOUND IN THE SURROUNDING ENVIRONMENT WWW.HBDONLINE.CO.UK


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