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Exterior wall cladding

Exterior wall claddings are a high-performing component of the home.

They serve as a protective skin for the building and its interior. Whatever your cladding type may be (brick, weatherboard, plaster, etc), it is the first layer of defence in shielding your wall framing and interior environments from the elements, temperature extremes, moisture ingress, noise, intruders and even pests and pollutants.

How a cladding is maintained dramatically affects its lifespan. Adequate care and maintenance specific to your cladding type is essential to ensure it remains an efficient insulator, safeguards against structural deterioration and maintains its tolerance and resistance to external influences.

If you have any concerns regarding the structural integrity of your exterior cladding, you should contact an appropriate construction professional for advice.

Some common issues associated with external claddings are highlighted below.

Exterior bricks

During manufacturing, hairline cracks can appear in clay bricks. This occurs during the drying process when excess moisture is removed from the clay prior to it entering the kiln. Brick veneer cladding with random minor hairline cracks would not compromise the structural integrity or weather tightness of the cladding and causes little to no impact from an aesthetic standpoint. Bricks will often be transported several times before arriving onsite. This can occasionally lead to minor chipping occurring prior to the bricks being laid.

For more information, visit:
Brick and Block Layers – Brick tolerances and aesthetic(external link)

Crumbling mortar

Crumbling or sections of missing mortar can be due to a poor-quality mortar mix, weathering, foliage interruption (i.e. creepers, ivy, vines) or improper technique when cleaning walls via water blasting.

For more information, visit:
BRANZ – Cavity brick or concrete block veneer - Crumbling mortar(external link)

Hairline cracking

Minor hairline cracking is quite common to homes with plaster covered wall claddings. Shrinkage can occur due to incorrect plaster mix and/or inadequate curing, excessive trowelling during application or a lack of movement control joints. Cracking also occurs to stucco houses if the substrate is unstable (i.e. triple S impregnated soft board, weatherboard, or older cement sheet products).

For more information, visit:
BRANZ – Stucco – random hairline cracking(external link)

BRANZ – Stucco wall cladding(external link)

Weatherboard paint deterioration

Mitre separation and paint deterioration to weatherboard homes can occur from weathering and thermal related movement (i.e. northern sun exposure and southerly rain/ winds). Exposure to the elements without adequate on-going maintenance can result in warped weatherboards, paint cracking, mitre gaps and loosening of boards. Close contact with vegetation (i.e. branch water run off) can also lead to aesthetic issues and damage to the board joins (i.e. ivy ingress).

For more information, visit:

BRANZ – Painted timber weatherboards(external link)

Gutters and downpipes

Gutters and downpipes are integral to your home’s wellbeing. They perform the critical task of diverting rainwater away from your roof, walls, and surrounding landscape.

Gutters that become clogged with leaves, twigs or other debris can result in leaky roofs and potentially damage the interior linings of your home.

Clogged gutters also create comfortable environments for pests and rodents which in turn can lead to issues within your ceiling space (i.e. damage to electrical wiring).

Downpipes should direct rainwater into a gully trap. When downpipes or gully traps are blocked rainwater can pond in the surrounding area. This can result in stale and dirty water pooling under your home or soaking into your subsoils potentially undermining your foundations.

Internal gutters can be particularly problematic if not maintained.

Regular cleaning of your gutters and downpipes is recommended as is the installation, if possible, of gutter guards (which can help reduce the quantity of debris build up).

Cleaning gutters can be dangerous, always seek advice before working at heights and near electrical cables.

For more information, visit:
BRANZ – Gutters and Downpipes(external link)