What is cladding and why is it important?

Today, cladding is often associated with modern disasters like the Grenfell Tower fire in London but it’s a construction technique that’s been used since ancient times.

Cladding is when one material is applied to cover the external structure of the building.

There are many materials that are used for cladding including:

Brick cladding
Glass cladding
Timber cladding
Vinyl cladding
Steel cladding
Aluminium cladding

They come in a variety of colours and can be used in different ways. It can wrap around a whole building or it may only be used on parts of the building.

The purpose of cladding is to protect a building’s structure from natural elements like wind and rain but it can have other benefits, such as, insulation, noise control and it can boost the aesthetic appeal of a building.

Safety concerns

While there are many buildings with safe cladding materials, state audits revealed 600 buildings with high risk cladding in New South Wales, as well as 500 in Victoria, and 237 in Queensland.

Certain types of cladding can burn rapidly if it catches on fire. The main type of cladding being questioned is metal composite panels (MCP).

MCP panels consist of two metal outer layers and a core material. The most common metal used is aluminium. Panels which contain a polyethylene core greater than 30 per cent has been found to be highly flammable.

State governments have already put a number of policies in place in a bid to prevent future cladding problems.

However, many states are in the process of risk assessment for buildings that are already affected, with rectification work in the pipeline.

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