Bridge the gap with cladding

Content supplied by Freefoam Building Products

Not enough bricks in the wall . . . it’s not a Pink Floyd revival but a situation that many  homeowners are facing when embarking on major home improvement projects such as extensions with reduced supplies of bricks and other building materials.

After the economic down turn in 2008 the demand for bricks and other building materials reduced as the housing market declined, leading to brick production decreasing by half and the closure of 19 brick plants. It was a similar story throughout the building material supply chain.

Last year saw an improvement in the economic environment and a resurgent housing market with building materials back in demand but the issue was that the supply chain was then unable to cope. With the increase in demand builders and home improvers are now being left with long lead times and subsequent delays. This has been a particular problem with Brick Manufacturers.

Turning a risk into an opportunity.

However, consumers are a resilient and resourceful lot and are now turning to other newer innovative products instead of traditional bricks and mortar.

Many homeowners and construction professionals are looking at other exterior facades such as cladding. Cladding has come a long way in the last ten years, especially with newer UV resistant PVC cladding with high fidelity, embossed textured wood graining manufactured to stand the test of time. Freefoam’s environmentally friendly lead-free Fortex Pro cladding has been designed to be easy and fast to fit. It’s four times lighter than cement fibre board and requires no specialist storage or fitting skills. It’s a consistent, stable low-maintenance long-life façade which qualifies for 20 year guarantees on white and, using Colormax™ technology, 10 year guarantees on a range of nine attractive colours ranging from subtle Misty Grey and Pale Gold through to dramatic Colonial Blue and Argyl Brown. Thermal conductivity is excellent, between 0.06 and 0.1 W/mk depending on profile thickness.

By using block for construction and then adding, for example, an external cladding, homeowners can create an attractive façade and remove the brick element completely.  Consumers like the look of traditional timber-clad ‘New England’ style homes, but they are less keen on maintaining them. In fact, it sometimes comes as shock the time and cost of regular maintenance that timber cladding  takes, and can also be forgotten once the building work is complete. As a nation we’ve grown up with the expectation that products are built to last without much in the way of maintenance, and homeowners resent having to give up their hard earned holidays or pay for someone else to do it for them. It’s a challenge Freefoam has taken to heart with its PVC-U Fortex embossed effect cladding offering a product that needs minimal maintenance.

Feature Wall

Rather than using cladding to cover the entire building envelope it can be used to great effect as a feature wall which means the volume of brick needed for a project  can be considerably reduced.  This approach has already been used by house builders and is something that homeowners could benefit from. Norfolk Homes are currently developing a large site in Porlingland, Norwich using  this concept very successfully using Fortex Weatherboard cladding in a variety of colours.

And PVC cladding is not just suitable for new build. Keith Wells, Managing Director of South Hants Property Service Ltd in Portsmouth used Fortex Weatherboard in Colonial Blue and White to create a stunning new façade on an existing pub and divided the building into five individual properties. He comments: “The Fortex product was the ideal solution for this refurbishment. It was light to handle and straightforward to install using the range of fitting accessories.”

And lastly cladding can be successfully utilised for self-build. With the recent introduction of the Self Build and Custom Housebuilding Bill Local Authorities are now required to create a register of people who have expressed an interest in self build and custom build projects, and to make provision for those on the register in developing housing initiatives and local plans, so now is the time is an ideal time to embark on a self build project. Self-Builder Vic Drake in Sevenoaks, Kent used the Fortex Weatherboard cladding range on an individual five bedroom property. He explained: “Although we like the finish of wood and most is now sustainably sourced we found it was heavy to transport, needs ongoing maintenance and can lose its insulation properties over time. Cement composite cladding was another option, and although it is very durable and holds its colour well it is very heavy. It isn’t eco-friendly to manufacture, cannot easily be recycled and is not as easy to fit as Fortex, which comes in 5m lengths. Our planning department were very happy with the embossed wood effect finish. It is aesthetically pleasing and in keeping with other local traditional properties.”

Visit or call Freefoam on 01604 591110 now for more information.