Render or veneer – What should you go with?

Render or veneer – What should you go with?

Building material manufacturers are continuously working on new methods of combining minerals & chemicals to produce superior material which can be used on site. Sometimes, these new material can prove to be easy to apply, while also being low maintenance due to improved performance.

Render is one such products, however, keep in mind that with the variety of different options & results, it may be challenging to understand which render will work best on the exterior of your project.

Using render is ideal to give a new outlook to an ageing or unattractive exterior for existing houses. It’s commonly established that by adding a weatherproof barrier between the brick surface & the weather elements, render can prolong the life of a building. Rendering can also help to invigorate damaged or worn-out brickwork with a consistent overall finish across the building & property.
Let’s understand what render really is, & the different types of render that you can choose from, shall we?

What is render?

Render is a coating which is applied over a building’s external walls. It’s the smooth, usually white surface on the exterior of a house. To create a flexible & breathable covering, traditionally, render was prepared by mixing lime, water & an aggregate (such as sand). However, this method hasn’t been very popular in the past few decades, & mostly used for period property conservation. Many modern render products are cement free. The newer render options can sometimes include elements which help to add waterproofing or resistance to algae growth, & you can even get the renders pre-mixed with a colour to add a vibrant finish as well as for external insulation.

Generally, modern render can be divided into three main types, which are mineral, acrylic & silicone. Usually, these only need one coat with a thickness of 1 mm to 4 mm, but this is primarily based on the substrate that is under the render. If chipping is added to the surface once the render is done, then the render may need to be at least 6 mm thick. To level out poor brick surfaces, a basecoat of 8 mm to 10 mm may be needed.

Sand & cement render – Cheap but costly in the long run?

Cement-based or mineral renders are nothing new. Cement-based or mineral renders are made from sharp sand, cement &, to add more flexibility, adding a little lime to the mixture, & consists of several layers.

The best advantage in using cement-based render is the relatively lower cost, at around $ 45 to $ 80 AUD per square meter, including the material & labour costs. However, on the other hand, you need to paint on top of cement-based render (it’s not self-coloured), so there’s a cost for maintenance over the years. The paint also needs to be a good quality paint with weather & moisture resistance.

Cement-based render could also be more prone to cracking since it’s not very flexible, & its efficacy is based on the correct mixing of the components, since it’s not usually pre-mixed in a quality-controlled, modern factory environment. When the render fails, there’s a possibility for water to seep in, which in turn leads to damp & mould problems. There are pre-mixed products designed to make sure the right ratio of ingredients is mixed, though.

Silicone & acrylic render – Durable but slack water resistance?

The modern silicone & acrylic renders are usually pre-made, & arrives to the site in tubs. These types of renders can be pre-coloured with almost any pigment so that it results in a very vibrant appearance. While these types of renders are durable, they may not be too great at waterproofing, so there’s the possibility to attract algae.

This option is suitable especially if your interest is in a product which is flexible to prevent cracking with the time passing by. This kind of render is applied in stages (the base coat, then the primer & finally the top coat), & the time needed to dry it is lesser than standard cement.
Silicone render is self-coloured, & since the colour is embedded to the topcoat, no painting is required, meaning no redecoration during its lifetime. If properly applied & cared for, it does have a relatively long-life expectancy, being more flexible than traditional products meaning less chance for cracking & more room for expansion/contraction. It’s also water repellent.

Another factor to consider is the cost, since thin-coat silicone/acrylic renders are premium products, costing approximately between $ 117 to $ 180 AUD per square meter including labour & materials.

Monocouche – Quick application but limited durability

This is a more breathable option even though it’s cement-based, & it’s through-coloured, meaning no extra painting is needed.
This render arrives on site as a dry mix ready to be blended with water, with an overall thickness designed to be around 15 mm. For a well-built, neatly finished blockwork, one layer can be more than enough, so it’s ideal for anyone who’s looking for quick application process with a good outcome.

In terms of cost, it would be approximately $ 100 to $ 135 AUD per square meter including labour & materials, & homeowners who are looking at this option would compare the silicone option too.
However, compared with the silicone option, monocouche is slightly cheaper & won’t last as long, it’s also not as good at resisting water & dirt.

Using flexible stone veneers as an alternative to render

Flexible stone veneers are sustainably extracted with minimum carbon footprint from 100% natural metamorphic rock, resulting in a 100% natural thin sheet of stone. It is naturally water & heat resistant, while also being durable. Since it’s attached to a backing (usually fibreglass, but other options include fabric for more flexibility & translucent for lighting options), it’s also flexible (being only 1.5 to 2.0 mm in thickness), so it can be installed on top of any flat surface, even on curves! It’s also very lightweight, a single sheet being around 1 kilo. It goes on top of any interior or exterior surface, from floors to walls & ceiling, on top of any kind of substrate, including cement, tiles, glass, steel, wood or even render! Applications are unlimited, from feature walls to fireplaces, splashbacks, bedrooms, bathrooms, or even furniture!

One of the main advantages that Sketch Australia’s flexible stone veneers have over render is the appearance. Being extracted from slatestone, sandstone or marble, the split surface of the stone sheet makes a statement of its own with finesse & texture. Each sheet has its own appearance in terms of the colour & texture, & is the perfect conversation starter. It’s also more durable than any man-made product, including cement-based renders, since it’s made of natural stone. Another advantage that stone veneers have over render is the fact that it’s both water & heat resistant, so you can be assured that with the proper installation & aftercare, your mind will be free from worry of future repairs.

Flexible stone veneers by Sketch Australia come with an installation guideline, & unlike render, stone veneers are considered a DIY product with no special requirement of tools & adhesives for installation. From cutting to installation of the flexible stone veneers, whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or prefer to have it installed by tilers, you can be sure that the labour cost is cheaper than render due to this reason. Finally, natural stone lasts a lifetime, with a 5-year warranty given by Sketch Australia for chipping & discolouration. The flexibility of the stone veneers means that it’s ideal for extreme weather conditions, allowing for expansion & contraction.

As you can see, while render has its own advantages & appearance, if you’re looking for a more durable, elemental resistant & easier installation option, then it’s certainly an option you should consider.

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