Q - I’m in the process of stripping the existing render from my house. Can you give me some options for a replacement material?
A - Removing existing render can often leave the brickwork behind it in a poor state of repair, so you need to think how you’d like to re-clad your home to get it looking smart again. This does give you the opportunity to wrap your home in insulation on the outside to improve its thermal performance, especially if you have a house constructed with solid rather than cavity walls. This process is a specialist job and should be a carried out by an approved installer; consult the Centre for Sustainable Energy (0117 934 1400; cse.org.uk).
If you want to try a waterproof rendering system, there are some fantastic new products on the market, which out-perform the old sand and cement versions – Sika (01707 394 444; sika.com) is one I particularly like. Timber also offers many different options; your choice will depend on the look, style and feel of your house, as well as complying with planning requirements.
You can cover your exterior in boarding, or even break up the elevation treatment by having some areas clad and others rendered. The size, thickness and direction of the boards will affect the finished result. Make sure you understand how the type of timber you choose will age over the years, and be clear about the final finish you specify, as this will change the look and character of the material. Silva Timber (01895 271 300; silvatimber.co.uk) is a good place to start; the most popular types in the UK are oak, cedar, western red cedar and larch because of their colour and resilience.
There’s a lot to consider, so don’t rush into anything – do your research!