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What is Metal Cladding?

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  • Written By: Parker Brown
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 06 December 2016
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Metal cladding is a type of exterior cladding made of metal. While composed of a different material, it performs the same function that nearly all other types of cladding do, which is to protect the exterior or interior of a building. Outside of structural protection, cladding can also be used to improve the look of a building. Metal cladding can be very useful for both purposes, as metal in general is typically very strong and durable, and its wide variety of types and finishes provide for aesthetic versatility. Unlike most other types of cladding, however, metal cladding can also be used for roofing.

There are many types of cladding available, each of which has its own distinct benefits and drawbacks. To name a few, there's wood cladding, concrete cladding, stone cladding, and others. Cladding, as a generality, is used for both protection and aesthetic purposes, with some having more of one trait than the other. For example, wood cladding is often desirable for certain types of homes, but is more prone to rotting or mold than other types of cladding, such as concrete.

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Under many circumstances, metal cladding is a balance of both function and aesthetic. While the different types of metal are incredibly varied in terms of durability and look, metal used for cladding purposes is usually either aluminum, copper, or steel. Each of these types has their own unique benefits and drawbacks, but like nearly all types of metal, they can be extremely versatile when it comes to forming and shape.

Aluminum is one of the most popular options for cladding purposes. This is primarily because aluminum, unlike copper or steel, cannot rust or corrode, making it highly desirable for homes, buildings or other structures located close to an ocean. Aluminum is also very lightweight, making it usable for both side and roof cladding. Also, like most other metals, it can be painted nearly any color. The only downside is that aluminum is not as strong as steel and may not provide the same level of protection in harsher environments.

Steel is often desired for its high strength, but is typically only used for industrial applications. Most grades of steel are prone to rust and typically require regular maintenance. There are some grades of steel, however, that are rust-resistant. One of these is galvanized steel, which is incredibly popular for both cladding and other applications where long-lasting strength is required. Other grades, such as stainless steel, are very similar in this regard, but are often far more expensive and typically aren't employed for cladding purposes.

Copper is another type of metal cladding which is usually used only for roofs or other finishing work. While it may provide adequate protection, it is often chosen for its aesthetic appeal alone. Copper starts out as a bright, shiny orange, but eventually corrodes into a light green. This color is highly desirable for many buildings and is often chosen solely for that purpose. From a functional standpoint, however, copper and other metals are chosen for sloped roofing applications because they allow for snow to slide off easily, unlike tile or shingles.

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