What is my best option for external cladding on my new home that balances sustainability, durability and low maintenance?


What is my best option for external cladding on my new home that balances sustainability, durability and low maintenance?

Asked by J McLaren

I found EcoClad and RainStone products and love them, but these aren't available for small projects/homeowners. I like the look of wood and do not favor the stucco-look. Is there any wood-look product that is sustainable and low-maintenance? I'd like to also replace my soffits, and would like a product that matches the new cladding, if possible. Thanks!

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Harold Remlinger, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB's picture

I have specified EcoCoad on medium size residential renovation project in the past.

  • It is not locally available in most states but can be ordered direct from the manufacturer, Kliptech industries.
  • Currently I have specified Trespa Meteon panels on for an 885 square foot residential application.

If you are interested in a rainscreen application here are additional consideration required for its application

  • You must prepare the existing structure by installing a water barrier "VaproShield" or equal. This is necessary since rainscreen panels allow air circulation behind the panels which carries moisture.
  • Proper flashing above windows, doors must be installed to divert water which may be blown between the panels and building structure.
  • Bug and insect perforated track must be installed at the top and bottom of each run of wall panel.
  • Proper design to maximize panel utilization to minimize waste is critical due to the cost of the material.
  • Verify with your local building department if they will require ICC-ES legacy report for the siding material you wish to implement. I have found that some building departments require this testing report as a stipulation for acceptance and approval per the International Building Code.

From my research and bidding for rainscreen panels, the cost for the panels is approximately $15 - $22 per square foot depending on the manufacturer.

  • Installation costs ranging from $18 - $20 for exposed fastener application.
  • If you do not want to see the fasteners and request a concealed fastening system, you can expect to pay upwards of double the cost (labor and material) for the project.
  • These cost include the vapor barrier installation and material.

A typical wood siding can be installed in a rainscreen application. This allows the wood to breath and will help reduce heat gain in the summer and adds an additional air layer (equals R of 1) increasing your homes building envelope R value reducing heat loss.

  • This type of application is common in Europe and is gaining popularity here in the states over the past three to four years.
  • There are less expensive materials and typical cladding application such as James Hardie siding.

Unfortunately this still requires a degree of maintenance but will not be prone to rot such as natural wood cladding.