What materials can be used for facade cladding?

What materials can be used for facade cladding?

House of Ile-de-France / ANMA. Image © Cecile Septet

Cladding systems have important functions in buildings. They can impart thermal insulation, protect interior spaces from the weather and, just as importantly, give the building a “face”, enhancing its appearance and clearly identifying the design element. “Siding” refers to components that are bonded to the structure of a building to form non-structural external surfaces. Whereas in the old days wood cladding was the only option, currently there are multiple possibilities of materials, colors, weights, textures, anchoring systems and many other variables available. Below, we describe some of the main materials used for facade cladding, and the projects that use them in a remarkable way:

ACM (aluminum composite material)

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Urban Quartz / Hamonic + Masson & Associés + a/LTA office building. Image © Stephane Chalmeau

ACM is the acronym for “Aluminum Composite Material”, a type of high-strength coating that consists of a three-layer panel, with two pre-lacquered aluminum plates joined to a polyethylene (PE) core. ACM panels are applied indoors and outdoors, with good dimensional stability, low weight and an elegant appearance that can have endless colors and textures.

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House of Ile-de-France / ANMA. Image © Cecile Septet

The Alucoil company produces composite panels whose exterior coatings are ideal for ventilated, semi-ventilated and waterproof facades. This is the case of the Urban Quartz Office Building / Hamonic + Masson & Associam + A / LTA project, whose ACM facade adopts a triangular modulation of two distinct shades. La Maison d’Ile-de-France, by ANMA also shows ACM panels accompanying the complex geometry of the building, bringing more movement to the structure due to the shadows created by the cladding.


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HCC Cortesia

Ceramics are formed by burning clay. Most modern processes add several other components to the mix, resulting in extremely robust products that can take any shape. Grespania’s Coverlam products include a 0.5 mm fiberglass mesh that allows the manufacture of pieces up to 1000 x 3000 mm, which can be installed on the metal supports of ventilated facades.

The La Serena residence by David James Architects & Partners uses large sheets of ceramic to cover the upper floor with a wooden pattern, pursuing the aesthetic qualities and textures of this natural material, but without the usual maintenance requirements. In this case, the substructure was painted black to highlight the ceramic facade and its joints.

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La Serena / David James Architects & Partners. Image © Tom Burn Media


Wood can bring warmth and warmth to any project; its natural and distinct shades and tones make it a material that can appeal to all tastes. Although wooden fronts are widely used, they can usually lack treatment, making it difficult to maintain the same look and feel over time. There is of course the possibility of using the raw material, as an aesthetic option, when it comes to more resistant species. But if the idea is to have the look of a newly treated wooden facade for as long as possible, there are some technologies available that can help. For example, Naturclad – W | Parklex Prodema is technically a high density laminated wood panel, made from kraft paper treated with thermosetting resins, pressed under high pressure and temperature, and finished with natural wood veneers highly resistant to UV rays and atmospheric agents.

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Meadow Dance House / John Curran Architects. Image © Andrew Campion

It was the material used to cover the Meadow Dance House, by John Curran Architects. Using three shades of natural wood, the vertical shelves create an iconic pattern on the upper floor of the house, on a stone plinth. At the University of Sydney Law School, this natural wood-clad material was used in movable vertical breakwaters, installed just behind a glazed facade, providing solar control of interior spaces.

Natural slate

With shades ranging from dark gray to black, facades in natural stone such as slate give sobriety and refinement to any facade. In addition, the material provides thermal comfort and ease of installation for ventilated facades. Slate withstands extreme temperatures, barely accumulates snow, is fire resistant and completely waterproof. Plus, because it’s 100% natural, it has a reduced environmental impact, and each piece is handcrafted without chemicals or additional treatments.

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Mix of Binet/ECDM Commercial Activities. Image © Salem Mostefaoui

Cupa Pizarras is a company that works with slate facades sized according to the needs of each specific project, with natural materials that adapt to any type of facade. The Mix of Commercial Activities Binet in Paris by ECDM uses pieces at two different heights, but with the same lengths, forming an interesting texture on the facade of the building with assertive and dynamic shapes. At the Conservatory of Music in Melun, France, slate pieces contrast with a shiny gold coating. According to the architects: “The flat mineral facades, matte and rough, are cut by long splays; these let appear a golden coppery material, smooth and reflective, which shimmered the light through tall steel “harps” and perforated panel filters. the exterior diurnal and nocturnal atmosphere of the building will be established between dark brick and golden copper.”

Anodized aluminum

The anodizing process consists of “making an oxide film on certain metals by immersion in an electrolytic bath in which the metal to be anodized is fixed to the positive pole of a source of electricity, becoming the anode of the electrolytic cuba”. The Kiskadedecor company uses anodized aluminum links to develop highly personalized designs such as space dividers, wall coverings, ceilings, facades, lighting elements or any other special structure you can think of. Thanks to in-house technology, they can reproduce images and patterns in a wide range of bright and satin color finishes.

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Pavilion of Ecuador Milan Expo 2015 / Zorrozua y Asociados. Image © Marcela Grassi

In the Milan Expo 2015 / Zorozua Y Asociados Ecuador Pavilion, the facade cladding was used to create a graphic pattern inspired by the multicolored fabrics of the Otavalo region of Ecuador and convey the atmosphere of the country and its cultural heritage. . The material also works for interiors and to highlight icons or letters, as is the case of the Center Gastronomique et de Loisirs Odysseo, Clavel Architectes.

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Gastronomic and Leisure Center Odiseo / Clavel Arquitectos. Image © David Frutos

In addition to these options, there are still several other options for facing materials for facades. When choosing, it is important to consider whether the material meets the functional and performance requirements of the project, its resistance and behavior over time, as well as the desired aesthetics.

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