20th Feb 2023 -

If you are thinking of adding cladding to your building project or at home, fibre cement cladding is a superior choice. It can enhance the external design of a building and protect the exterior from damaging elements. But what is fibre cement cladding and why should you invest in this instead of other types of cladding? Here is everything you need to know.  

What is fibre cement cladding?

A composite building material made from cement with reinforced cellulose fibres, fibre cement cladding (also known as cement fibre cladding) is manufactured in either sheets or boards. The sheets or boards fit together onto the outside of a building, creating a weatherproof layer to protect a building’s exterior. You can fix cement fibre boards or sheets on commercial and residential buildings. 

Advantages of using fibre cement cladding

There are many benefits to installing fibre cement cladding on your home or in future projects. From installation to its weatherproof properties and low-level maintenance, fibre cement cladding could prove to be the best solution. 

1. Easy to install

Fibre cement boards or sheets are simple to install. Because the material is lightweight, it is easy to position in the right place. You can either fit the boards by hand or use a nail gun - stainless steel nails or hot-dipped galvanised nails are both fine to use. This helps to cut down the duration of the installation, which saves on labour costs. 

2. Durability and weather resistance

The general life expectancy of fibre cement board cladding is 40-50 years. Fibre cement boards will never rot and protect your home from extreme UK weather conditions. The cement fibre board is also fire resistant, it will not crack or swell with the changing elements and it’s moisture resistant too. 

3. Low maintenance

In comparison to vinyl or PVC cladding, fibre cement cladding boards are straightforward to maintain and will not need to be repainted. Cement fibre board cladding is also simple to clean - just use a combination of soap and water to keep the cladding looking fresh. 

4. Environmentally friendly

To coincide with the growing topic of using eco-friendly products and materials, this type of cladding uses a low amount of additives - as well as sand, cement and water - to its mixture. This makes it more environmentally friendly compared to other cladding types. Less dust is also produced when working with fibre cement cladding.  

5. Resistant to pests

Unlike its vinyl and timber counterparts, it is pest resistant due to its material. Particularly timber can become damaged by an infestation of woodworm or nesting birds. But fibre cement cladding does not suffer from any of these issues - its cement and reinforced cellulose fibre materials make pest damage impossible. 

Disadvantages of using fibre cement cladding

Before you go ahead and buy fibre cement cladding for your project, it is best to know the disadvantages and potential issues that could arise. 

1. Difficult to cut

It can be difficult to cut compared to its timber counterpart. Cladding manufacturers can use a polycrystalline diamond-tipped (PCD) blade - which has either 4 or 6 teeth - to cut the material. Electric power shears can also be used, but this can take a lot longer to cut. If you need to cut the cladding at home or on a job, a PCD circular blade saw is the best option as it is manufactured specifically for cutting fibre cement. 

2. Cost

Generally, the cost of buying fibre cement cladding is more expensive than timber cladding. Although the overall cost may be less than timber in the long term - due to less maintenance and painting - the initial cost is usually a bit more. For context, the average cost of a timber cladding board is between £10 - £40 per m2. A fibre cement cladding board can cost anywhere from £60 - £150 per m2. 

3. Fitting issues

If your cladding is not fitted very well, a whole host of issues can arise. Your home or the building that you are working on can be exposed to the element if a gap is formed due to poor installation. This can lead to leaks and a rotting framework - termites may also find their way through the material.

What to consider before using fibre cement cladding

1. Regulations and planning permission

According to the government’s Planning Portal, for fibre cement and any other type of cladding, planning permission may not be required. This applies only if the material used is similar to what was used in the construction of your home. If your home is a listed building, you will be required to apply for listed building consent. However, for homes situated in a national park, conservation area, or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), planning permission is needed.

2. Damaged cladding

If you happen to find a small hole in the fibre cement cladding, it is important to not remove the full cladding board. This could damage the whole wall and expose it to harsh elements. To fix small holes, it is best to use a putty that is designed for fixing this type of cladding. The putty is usually included in the fibre cement repair kits. After it finishes drying, you will need to paint the putty the same colour as the cladding. 

3. Potential asbestos

If you are working on a building with existing cladding from as early as the 1940s, you could be exposed to asbestos. A building inspection should determine whether asbestos is present in a building or not. The UK did not fully ban the use of asbestos until 1999, despite prohibition laws in 1985 introducing the ban on using and importing brown (amosite) and blue (crocidolite) asbestos. 

Alternatives to fibre cement cladding

There are other types of cladding that can be used for a building project. 

1. Metal cladding

Primarily used for industrial construction, this type of cladding is mostly available in aluminium or steel and is recyclable. It is affordable and easy to install because of its lightweight, large panels. You will likely see metal cladding used for various projects from modern office buildings to farms.

2. Timber cladding

With its natural-looking appearance, timber cladding is typically manufactured in long, narrow sheets that can either be fitted diagonally, vertically or horizontally. Timber cladding is a popular choice for its sustainable properties and can also help to insulate a building, particularly useful for the colder months.

3. Stone cladding

Used widely in modern construction, stone cladding is a great alternative to the complex method of stone wall construction. Its unique appearance is a key selling point, alongside its resistance to water and other environmental elements. Plus, stone cladding is easy to maintain. 

4. Brick cladding

Resembling a brick wall, external brick cladding cleverly mimics the same brick colours and patterns. It is easy to install, fairly cost-effective and is made in prefabricated panels. Brick cladding is also simple to maintain and is a popular choice for its strong weather resistance. 

5. Vinyl cladding

An affordable option with a smooth finish, vinyl cladding can be produced in various colours and is manufactured in either strips or sheets. A major benefit to vinyl cladding is you can add a layer of insulation to it, which helps to maintain a building’s internal heat. Vinyl cladding is mainly used for residential buildings.

6. Glass cladding

Mostly used for retail and modern office spaces, glass cladding is visually appealing as well as highly weather resistant and a great source of thermal insulation. It is produced from either vitrified or tempered glass and is easy to maintain. However, glass cladding can be expensive to buy and difficult to install. 

Fibre cement cladding available at competitive prices

Whether you plan to install cement fibre board cladding on your home or for a building project you are working on, our high-quality cladding products and materials will give you assurance and confidence through every step of the process. 

If you are a builder or work in the construction industry, you may want to explore the benefits of opening a trade account with us. A personal trade account manager, fast delivery options and flexible credit options are just some of the advantages of opening an account. We will also help you find exactly what you need - from cementitious boards to garden tools - for all of your projects. Give us a call or sign up online.