What is a Cladding System?

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  • Written By: Paul Scott
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2019
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A cladding system is any family or group of products meant to serve as decorative or protective coverings for walls, roofs, ceilings, or floors of buildings. There are many different types of materials used in these systems including wood, concrete, steel, and a range of PVC and composite materials. These coverings do not form part of the load bearing structure of any building and are typically installed with surface fastening techniques only. Cladding systems may be installed during the initial construction of buildings or may be retrofitted to existing structures during refurbishments or repairs. The unique, cost-effective characteristics of these materials allow engineers and architects to use them in the core structure of a building.

The material used in cladding systems are formulated to enhance the visual appearance of a building while offering thermal and sound insulation in addition to protection against the elements. The use of these materials also prevents conditions such as ground water seepage from damaging the structure. Cladding systems are available in an extensive range of materials, textures, and color schemes which cater to all building designs. Although they are typically used on the exterior, they are also available as interior finishes for walls floors and ceilings. Commonly used cladding system materials include precast concrete, masonry, and ceramic products, timber, steel and alloys, plastics, and reinforced composites.


Cladding system finishes may be installed during the final stages of new construction or installed during refurbishment of existing structures. Cladding materials are also frequently installed as a visual and preventative solution to effect repairs of environmental damage. These materials are typically surface mounted and do not form an integral part of the structures load bearing abilities. Precast concrete, masonry, and ceramic products are typically attached to the structural surfaces of a building with mortar or adhesives. Timber, metal, and plastic cladding elements are generally secured with screws, nails, or bolts.

The integration of a cladding system into a buildings design allows architects and builders to use cheaper and quicker construction methods and materials for the core structure. Aesthetic appeal and protective elements are then added with the installation of the cladding system. The fact that most cladding systems consist of thin veneers makes them a particularly cost effective solution while not detracting from their functionality. This characteristic also makes cladding system materials relatively light weight solutions which do not tax the load bearing abilities of the structures they enhance.


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Post 4

Does anyone know how much external stone wall cladding would cost?

We have been looking to refinish the outside of our house. I think it would look nice with stone at the bottom and siding higher up. I have looked around at some websites, but haven't really found a good estimate. I'm also curious what the labor costs are for having something like that installed. How would it compare to having full siding?

Post 3

The article mentions using cladding for sound reduction. Has anyone ever seen or used cladding panels that can reduce sound?

My wife doesn't always share in my enthusiasm when I decide to break out my guitars. The only real choices are for me to get rid of the guitars, learn to play better, or soundproof the room, and I can't see the first two happening.

I've tried blankets on the doors, but that didn't work too well. I know recording studios have the eggshell shaped wall coverings, but I have a feeling those are expensive and wouldn't look too good on the walls. My wife would appreciate any suggestions that come in.

Post 2

@jcraig - I love the look of redwood siding. Using redwood for roof shingles can also give a very striking contrast to stone or brick houses.

I have to say, though, cedar might be my favorite choice. For the wall cladding in our closets, we used cedar, and it smells incredible. Unfortunately, I know that some people don't care for the smell. My grandmother always said it gave her headaches.

Post 1

When we built our new house, we decided to use redwood as the exterior wall cladding. It looks wonderful, and best of all, redwood is naturally rot resistant!

What type of covering would be used on ceilings? I have never heard of anyone using cladding there.

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