Your guide to home exterior finishes

Building a new home or renovating means making thousands of decisions, but we think choosing an exterior cladding option ranks as one of the most important

Story by: David Renwick
See the home hereArchitect: Zen Architects architecture, building, facade, home, house, real estate, residential area, siding, wood, brown, white
See the home hereArchitect: Zen Architects

Let’s face it, little else is as important when building a new home as your choice of exterior cladding. It’s the outer shell of your home and the face it presents to the street. If and when you decide to sell, the decision you make here could impact how much you can actually sell your home for.

Take the time now (before you build) to understand the options available to you.


This impressive two-storey home is clad with Envira cottage, elevation, facade, home, house, property, real estate, residential area, siding, white
This impressive two-storey home is clad with Envira Weatherboard System, it is an attractive design that showcases modern living.

Timber weatherboards

Traditional and timeless, weatherboards are understandably a popular cladding option among New Zealand homeowners. Most weatherboards are either radiata pine, cedar or macrocarpa.

If you don't opt for pre-treated boards, you'll need to stain or coat pine, cedar and macrocarpa in order to avoid fungal growth.

In terms of style, you’ve got three main options. Bevel-back horizontal boards are best suited to our climate as they’re extremely weather-tight, with rusticated horizontal boards less suitable given that they’re not as weatherproof and also prone to distortion. The last option is shiplap. These boards are well-suited to harsh environments; when locked together they form a very strong seal.

With Linea Weatherboards, you'd think you're looking at architecture, building, estate, facade, home, house, property, real estate, villa, teal
With Linea Weatherboards, you'd think you're looking at real timber.

Non-timber weatherboards

If you like the look of weatherboards but aren’t sold on the idea of a timber home, a number of companies offer robust alternatives. James Hardie, for example, offers Linea. This is a composite weatherboard that’s fire, rot and moisture resistant, not to mention resistant to cracking and warping. You can learn more about Linea here.

The raw, fair-face concrete wall experienced on the architecture, condominium, cottage, home, house, mixed use, neighbourhood, plant, real estate, residential area, tree, black
The raw, fair-face concrete wall experienced on the approach to this home belies the openness and transparency found on the other side of the home.


For an industrial-looking home, you can’t do much better than concrete. Just look at the home in the picture above!

Beyond its functional looks, concrete offers a few enticing benefits for homeowners. It’s extremely durable, with sun, intense weather and fire posing little to no threat. It’s also got a high thermal mass and will last for a very long time. If you opt for pre-cast tilt slab concrete, you won't even need to deal with the process of casting onsite as companies can deliver the finished blocks directly to you.

Furthermore, you won’t need to do much in the way of maintenance – all it really requires is occasional cleaning.


With an appealing modern look, plaster is an excellent option for New Zealand homes – especially with products like Rockcote from Resene and Sto's StoLite Stucco System. You'll find superb weather resistance, not to mention significant flexibility in how the exterior of your home looks.

The materials used for this home are robust; architecture, building, facade, home, house, real estate, residential area, siding, wood, brown, white
The materials used for this home are robust; concrete slab floor local recycled bricks, plywood first floor, with corten steel cladding and timber double glazed windows.

Metal and steel

Metal and steel claddings are very low maintenance. You install them and leave them be. There’s also a number of options if you’re thinking of going down the metal route, with alternatives like corten/weathering steel able to give your home a unique look you won’t often see. Check out the picture above for an example.

While it’s true that metal cladding is one of the lowest maintenance options for your home, you do need to take the environment into account. Homeowners near the sea, for example, will likely have to contend with rust when using certain types of metal, meaning a need to re-coat more frequently than homes further inland.

Before you build

Whichever option you go with, it’s important to keep the environment in mind above all else. We’re not talking about sustainability here, but where your home’s located. As we noted above, steel may not be the best option by the sea, and certain types of weatherboard could prove a nuisance in especially wet or windy areas.

Jun 27, 2018





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