Walking through Australia’s cities and suburbs, you’d be forgiven for thinking that aluminium panels and cement render had become default materials for the cladding of buildings. Perhaps one of the reasons that they’re so noticeable is that neither age particularly well. An aluminium facade can quickly become shabby, with wear and tear from the elements and physical impact most noticeable at street level. And render – simply a layer of cement applied to a vertical substrate and painted – is inherently susceptible to degradation in the form of unsightly salt leaching, fading paint and cracking caused by building movement.
Then there are the safety concerns. Flammable aluminium composite panels have been implicated in the rapid spread of flames at serious building fires all around the world. In Australia, buildings that have been found to have been clad in panels that don’t comply with building code requirements are now going through the expensive process of being re-skinned.
Unsurprisingly, this has fuelled an increased interest in non-combustible cladding materials, and a very old material, used in a new way, is providing a third option, one that’s beautiful, strong and fire-safe.
Artedomus coined the term “architectural ceramics” to describe the use of ceramic panels as cladding for concrete-slab facades. Together, these materials create a building skin that’s much more durable than cement render and aluminium panels, and completely non-combustible. The MAXIMUM range of porcelain panels is well suited to this use, particularly for large-scale applications.
Made from all-natural materials – simply clay, sand and quartz, which is heated and mixed – they’re UV stable, so don’t change appearance with sun exposure; they don’t stain and aren’t susceptible to acid attack; and are practically impervious to damage. And because they’re so strong, they are produced with profiles as thin as 6mm, which makes them light enough to be glue-fixed (the adhesive supplier provides a warranty on applications up to 15m – beyond that height, facade systems and other mechanical fixings can be used).
MAXIMUM porcelain panels come in styles that replicate the effects of everything from concrete and natural stone to metal surfaces, and with textural patterns. Considering all of these options, and porcelain’s vastly superior durability and safety, surely the dominance of aluminium panels and cement render in Australia is coming to an end.