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Architectural cladding is material applied to the exterior of a building for both protection and aesthetic purposes. Cladding can come in a wide variety of materials, including wood, stone, concrete, and synthetic materials. Regardless of the material, however, all types of cladding share a common purpose, which is to protect the building to which its applied from the elements. One of the elements that cladding protects against is rainwater, which can cause an incredible amount of damage to unprotected buildings. Along with the benefits of increased elemental protection, architectural cladding can also improve the appearance of a building to which its applied.
One of the most basic types of architectural cladding is wood. Since wood stock can be trimmed and cut to nearly any size and shape, wood remains one of the most versatile cladding options available. Along with this, wood cladding is also aesthetically pleasing and unique, due to the many varieties of wood available. The two most common choices for wood cladding are cedar and larch, as they do not need to be pre-treated, nor do they require much maintenance. Any wood used, however, must have the cut ends sealed, as open ends allow for water and moisture to seep into the wood, resulting in rotting and mold.
A common alternative to wood cladding is unplasticized polyvinyl chloride (UPVC), which is typically referred to as vinyl siding. While UPVC cladding may take the appearance of wood, it is far cheaper to produce and install, mainly due to its synthetic composition. It is also far more water resistant than wood, as it has no graining or pores, leaving no space in which water or moisture can seep. It can also come in a wide variety of colors, so painting and staining is typically not required.
Another type of architectural cladding is stone. Stone cladding is by far one of the most elementally-resistant varieties, and in many cases, one of the most aesthetically pleasing. Much like wood, stone comes in many varieties, each of which having its own pattern and level of durability. Stone can also be applied to a building's interior, with stones such as marble being used for bathroom walls.
The most commonly used type of architectural cladding is concrete. While concrete is not typically found on private homes, it is frequently used for larger buildings. Concrete cladding not only has a durability and strength similar to that of stone, but it can also be formed to nearly any shape imaginable. Precast concrete is typically used, due to its increased strength, aesthetic versatility, and low cost.