The benefits conferred by lightweight wall cladding extend well beyond the ability to create a durable and aesthetically pleasing facade for building exteriors.
The chief and most immediate advantage of lightweight wall claddings in the minds of most would no doubt lie in the aesthetic options they provide to architects and builders when it comes to external facades. The products give designers access to an endless range of colours, textures and decorative patterns that can completely transform the appearance of building exteriors.
Aside from their ability to enhance the aesthetic merits of a facade however, lightweight wall cladding also provides benefit to the ongoing performance of buildings and facilities by helping to enhance their long-term efficiency and sustainability.
This is particularly the case with exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS), which are non-load bearing exterior wall cladding consisting of insulation boards attached to substrates by either adhesive or mechanical means. This type of cladding possesses integrally reinforced base coats and a textured protective finish coat.
A key area of benefit lies in energy efficiency, with EIFS products providing continuous insulation and a continuous air barrier that can significantly reduce the heating and cooling requirements of building interiors.
According to research conducted by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory with the support of the US Department of Energy, EIFS is the "best performing cladding" when it comes to thermal and moisture control, surpassing brick, stucco and cementitious fibreboard siding.
Commercial cladding options available in Australia such as Dulux Acratex's Exsulite are in full compliance with the relevant clauses of the Building Code of Australia across a range of areas including energy efficiency, weatherproofing and structural integrity.
The ease of installation of lightweight wall cladding also makes it an excellent choice for retrofitting older buildings to enhance their energy efficiency.
While conventional methods for installing insulation within building walls can be intrusive and time-consuming, EIFS installation is comparatively quick and easy as well as far less disruptive, as it only entails alteration of the building's exterior.