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Contemporary aluminium barn conversion buckinghamshire

External Cladding – not just black and white.

How can anyone resist the charm of Notting Hill and other vibrantly colourful streets, each home having its distinct personality and identity? When you embark on your home building project, you’ll discover a variety of cladding options available to you that go beyond merely painting the façade, though. We will discuss these in detail but first, what do we mean when we say cladding?


What is cladding?

Cladding is the external waterproof skin of your home; not only does it protect the inside it defines the character of the home. The type of material you select for your home can give it a more traditional or contemporary feel, which is why we always consider it in the context of the overall design vision.

Are there any planning considerations when choosing the external cladding?

Depending on your local authority’s approach and whether or not other factors apply (if your property is located within a Conservation Area, for example) there are likely to be guidelines on the type of cladding materials favoured. A local authority’s notes on cladding may be detailed in their planning policies and design guides but, as a rule of thumb, the thoughtful selection of materials that complement the local built (and natural) environment is likely to be seen in a favourable light during any planning application.

Other factors that may influence your choice include the overall vision of the architectural design – contemporary or traditional, for instance – as well as installation costs, durability and maintenance requirements. A painted render finish will usually come in at a much lower cost than natural stone but will require more upkeep in the long term. The good news is that modern cladding choices are more varied than ever, offering better technical protection and a wider selection of aesthetic options.

Brick cladding modern new build home design
Modern timber cladding home design


One of the most popular choices for homeowners in the UK, brick offers impressive insulating properties and durability. While installation is more time-consuming and requires labour, there’s no need for ongoing maintenance, when completed to a high standard the elevation will last several lifetimes.

But classic red brick needn’t be your go-to option. With the growing awareness around the waste produced by new construction projects, a range of unique, sustainable options from StoneCycling is now available. StoneCycling uses construction waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill to create a unique and beautiful, yes, beautiful bricks. The StoneCycling bricks have the same durability and insulation credentials as a normal brick but offer much more choice in aesthetics – definitely worth a look if you want traditional with a twist.

Image Source: StoneCycling

Timber Cladding

Always a popular option – sometimes in combination with render or stone – timber is often thought of as the natural, sustainable choice because it comes from managed, renewable resources, although the treatments used to protect it from excessive weathering can reduce its environmental credentials. While red cedar or oak are naturally resistant to insect damage and rot, other timbers will require preservation treatment.

One ancient method of preservation that is becoming increasingly popular – as much for its pared-back aesthetic as for its durability is wood charring. Thought to have originated in Japan, the charring process improves durability and protects from weathering and insect damage, at the same time offering an elegant, softly textured finish. offer a broad selection of charred and otherwise thermally treated timbers that not only have enviable durability but are simply stunning.


Often associated with industrial and commercial development, metal has become popular as a beautiful and durable finish for contemporary residential projects in recent years. Metal cladding – commonly using a steel or aluminium substrate – can be folded into a wide variety of shapes and profiles and finished in a range of colours and finishes to complement your chosen style. It also has much to contribute to the use of sustainable technology when used as part of a green roofing system or solar cladding solution.

The use of weathered – Corten – steel brings a different aesthetic into play. Corten steel changes with its exposure to the atmosphere, creating a corrosion-retarding protective layer as it ‘rusts’. It’s an exciting material for bold architectural projects.

Modern bucks new build home country views


While not necessarily regarded as a form of cladding, glass nevertheless deserves consideration in this category. The use of glass panels to create elevations that allow light to flood into an interior while providing panoramic vistas outside, has become more popular as advancements in construction techniques and thermal technologies enable designs to be bigger and bolder.

A HollandGreen refurbishment and extension of a house in the Buckinghamshire countryside demonstrates the power of glazed installations to transform the character and aspect of a home.

Modern architectural glazed new build country replacement home

Mixed materials

Often, the most impactful exterior designs are the result of juxtaposing contrasting finishes as they provide intrigue and enhanced visual interest. In a traditional home, this may be a case of marrying brick, timber and render to reflect the local vernacular, while in a modernist-inspired building, it might indicate a fusion of steel and glass.

In a recent barn conversion, we designed a finish that teamed folded matt-black aluminium with timber and concrete, incorporating large-format steel-framed glazing to provide unrivalled views over the surrounding countryside.

Sustainable class Q aluminium cladding barn conversion

Let’s define your home’s character.

Because the choice of cladding has such a significant influence over the exterior appearance of any home, it’s an essential consideration in your architectural project – whether you’re planning a refurb, extension or a new build. We’d love to help you find the perfect material for your home and define its character. We provide architecture services throughout the CotswoldsOxfordshire LondonSurrey, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire,Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds.

We’d love to help you plan your new home, let’s talk about how we can capture your vision. Give us a call