I've heard horror stories of homes burning down, costing millions of dollars in damages. The 2016 Grenfell Tower disaster in London left 72 people dead with the fire climbing 20 stories within minutes - all because of the wrong cladding.
Deciding on a family home for my young children has become a highly stressful task, and I've become paranoid worrying about my children's safety. I've bought baby proofing products for every corner within my children's reach. Now all I have to do is choose the cladding material.
But what is cladding?
Cladding is a non-loadbearing coat or skin fastened to the exterior of a home or shed to protect the building from the impacts of weather. It is an essential component in the aesthetic attraction of a home and directly influences both building cost and property value.
Like all building materials, there are pros and cons to each type of cladding.
Solid, powder-coated aluminium
Aluminium is an excellent source for cladding material. It is a non-combustible material with good thermal conductivity. Unfortunately, aluminium claddings can become a fire hazard when combined with flammable materials such as wet paint finish, plastic, or polyethene core. This was the case in the Grenfell Tower disaster.
Solid aluminium cladding is usually made from powder-coated aluminium that disperses heat. When aluminium cladding is exposed to fire, it melts as opposed to burning, which stops the flames from spreading. The powder coatings will also prevent a fire from spreading as the coating chars when heated.
Solid, powder-coated aluminium is corrosion-resistant, compliant, and lightweight and makes for great cladding material.
Vinyl cladding is one of the most popular choices because it's inexpensive, low maintenance, versatile, and looks great! Made from a mix of Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), vinyl cladding's chlorine base makes it hard to ignite and even easier to extinguish.
An additional bonus of vinyl cladding is once they're installed, you can forget all about them! Vinyl cladding rarely cracks or fades, and is resistant to mould, mildew, and the attacks of playing children.
Foam is a very inexpensive and non-structural material, great for cladding. It has excellent insulation properties and is very easy to install. Unlike many other materials, foam is an eco-friendly source and users will benefit from its power-saving features. Once combined with fire retardant materials, foam is the perfect cladding source.
Other safe materials:
- Scyon - Linea, Axon, Stria, and Matrix
- Lightweight blueboard
- Autoclaved aerated concrete
- Plywood sheets
- Monolithic systems.
Materials to avoid:
- Aluminium composite
Simply because you have installed cladding on your home, doesn't mean you can sleep comfortably quite yet. There are many other steps you should take to ensure your home is safe from fires.
- Install working smoke alarms
- Unlock emergency exits
- Own an extinguisher/fire blanket
- Uncover heaters and air conditioners
- Keep stairwells and exits clear.
Keep you and your family and friends safe by installing a trustworthy cladding material for your home. The health of your loved ones should be your top priority, from the outside in!