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From ordinary to extraordinary

If you are planning to give your home’s interior or exterior walls a facelift, and tiles and paint are not quite what you had in mind, why not consider cladding?


By Roelof Strydom


Cladding a wall with natural stone or synthetic materials instantly transforms the wall by creating an attractive focal point and adding some texture. Cladding adds aesthetic appeal, but has other benefits as well – it also improves the wall’s thermal and sound insulating properties. Take a look at the following cladding options for your home.

Natural stone cladding

* Travertine

Travertine comes in a great variety of colours and is prized for its many different styles and finishes. Johlene Lourenco, project manager at Clad it Cape Town, explains that the natural texture and subtle tan and ivory colours of travertine can be used to create a sophisticated design element for a wall.


“The stone is cut and supplied in modular dimensions, allowing you to create your own particular artistic vision with easy and predictable installation,” she says. Travertine is ideal for highlighting feature walls and can also be used around fireplaces to create an attractive focal point. It is best suited to interior use, but can be used externally provided that it is sealed.


* Marble

This natural stone is known for its magnificent lustre and durability. White Pearl marble is perfect as an attractive splashback or even a feature wall thanks to its sparkling pearly white colour and subtle streaks of grey. Johlene explains that marble is best suited for interior use.


* Sandstone

“Sandstone is a layered stone that combines consolidated quartz and grains of sand bound together over thousands of years,” says Johlene. She notes that the beauty of sandstone lies in its rich texture and great variety of earthy colours. African Dune sandstone is a neutral and textured riven strip that’s ideal for splashbacks, feature walls as well as around braais and fireplaces. It also has variations of ivory and beige.


* Limestone

This stone has a luxurious texture and a consistent colour that’s suited to all contemporary living spaces, explains Johlene. For example, French Vanilla limestone is a pale hardwearing stone characterised by tan and honey brown colours. It has a smooth surface that is ideal for highlighting fireplaces. Limestone is best suited for interior use or enclosed outside areas. It is also sold in free lengths, so a random look can be created.


* Quartzite

This is one of the hardest natural stones available. It is not only impressively durable, but also boasts a velvety texture and a wide variety of colours ranging from dark grey to warm copper, silver and white. The mineral elements locked within the stone give quartzite its characteristic sheen while flecks of quartz add sparkle. Quartzite adds depth and shine to any interior or exterior area.


* Lavastone

Lavastone can be used to create contrast and interest in interior and exterior spaces due to its volcanic chalky texture and charcoal colour. Johlene explains that it can be used for splashbacks, around fireplaces, on water features and in hard landscaping projects.


* Slate

This is a bold and chunky cladding product. As a sedimentary stone, slate is composed of wafer thin layers compacted to a durable hardness. It is strong, hardwearing and luxuriously tactile. Slate offers a robust alternative for walls and is available in a wide variety of shades, ranging from sombre hues to bright variegated colours. “Slate can be used with equal appeal both indoors and outside,” says Johlene.



Planning on cladding a wall or two? Before you go ahead and start cladding, there are a few things to consider, like the condition of the wall. If the wall you want to clad is smooth, you need to roughen the surface. You can do this by using a chipping hammer or a small angle grinder to chip or grind random patches into the wall. This will help the cladding stick to the wall. Due to the cladding stones’ weight, the rougher the surface, the better the cladding will adhere to the surface. Remember, after chipping the wall you need to remove all the dust and loose material.


If the wall you want to clad is a face brick wall or if the raw brickwork is exposed, there is no need for any preparation. The raw bricks are rough enough and you can clad straight onto them.



Johlene explains that all natural stone types are porous and in their natural state they are susceptible to stains and dirt, therefore they require at least two coat of Alcolin NC120 silicone sealant. This sealer is available in a 5L tin from most hardware stores and covers approximately 20m2.


The stone will absorb the sealer and form a barrier against natural elements and dirt. The sealer has a matt finish and will not change the colour or texture of the stone. Before the sealer can be applied, the cladding must be completely dry and clean. Johlene notes that when the sealer is applied on interior surfaces, a respirator should be worn by the person doing the application to prevent them from inhaling the fumes.


Also remember to open up lots of windows so that the area is well ventilated. The first coat of sealer should dry in about 30 minutes whereafter the second coat can be applied. “After two coats of sealer have been applied, the stone will be sufficiently sealed and in future the cladding can be hosed down, if required,” says Johlene.


Benefits of natural stone cladding

* Instantly adds value to a property.

* No maintenance is required.

* Hides unsightly surface cracks.

* Covers areas affected by damp where paint often peels.

* Modernises exterior face brick walls.

* Can be used to cover Vibracrete walls.

* Highlights specific areas of the home, for example fireplaces, braais and water features

* Offers timeless elegance and long-term durability as it is a natural product.

* Each batch has unique stone characteristics.



Synthetic wall cladding

If you want to clad your homes walls, but don’t have the budget to do so with natural stone, there is a cheaper alternative known as Rockwood cladding.


According to Janine Wiese from Rockwood Gauteng, “Rockwood cladding provides DIY’ers with a decorative wall covering that’s quick and easy to install.” Unlike other wall coverings, such as tiles and natural stone cladding, which require each individual piece to be cemented onto the wall, Rockwood cladding comes as panels that slot together like a jigsaw puzzle.


“Each panel is constructed from industrial strength polyurethane and thanks to the all weather coating, which protects the panels from water and UV damage, they can also be used for exterior applications,” says Janine. This lightweight and hardwearing cladding option is an exact replica of brick, slate, wood or rock finishes.


Apart from adding an additional layer on top of your home’s existing walls, thus enhancing the aesthetics, it also acts as a thermal insulator and an acoustic board. Additional benefits of Rockwood are that it is fire retardant, doesn’t melt or serve as a combustion base. It's guaranteed to not perish as a result of weather conditions, acids or salt water.


This is a DIY friendly cladding option, so no expert is required to do the installation. If you're a one-man team, you'll be glad to hear that these panels are easy to handle and work with due to their light weight (each panel weighs 4-7kg). The panels can easily be cut with a small angle grinder or even a jigsaw. Each panel is designed to fit together like a puzzle, making for effortless installation.


Rockwood cladding is available in six brick cladding varieties, eight slate designs and colours, two wooden finishes and eight unique stone panels.



Step 1: Measure the surface to be covered and calculate the number of panels needed.

Step 2: When starting to work, cut one side of the panel to get a completely straight edge.

Step 3: Fit the panel to the wall and drill through the panel directly into the wall using a 6mm drill bit. Put the screw into the wall plug and place both into the hole in the panel. Push and screw them in until the panel is securely fixed. Use as many screw per panel as needed.

Step 4: Repeat the installation procedure with the other panels, which are designed to fit perfectly into each other.

Step 5: Once the entire wall is covered with the panels, fill the joints and screw holes with an acrylic sealer like Alcolin Acrylic Sealant or Den Braven Acryl-W. The reason for  using acrylic sealant is because it is flexible and paintable.

Step 6: When all the joints are filled, remove any irregularities with a fine brush. Once the sealant is completely dry, which will take about 24 hours, paint the joints and screw holes with the special paint to give it a perfect finish.


Janine explains that Rockwood panels create such an authentic appearance that there is no detectable difference between natural stone cladding and Rockwood cladding.


Benefits of Rockwood cladding

* Easy and economical to install – no mess, no fuss.

* Extremely lightweight.

* Requires no expensive artisan or builder to install.

* No stone-by-stone cementing.

* Looks like the real thing.

* It acts as insulation.



Clad it Cape Town, 021-558-9461, 

Rockwood Gauteng, 083-441-9474, 

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