How to approach retrofitting facades

How to approach retrofitting facades

An easy way to transform the look of a building is to alter its façade. It requires minimum site disruption and can be far simpler than ripping it down and starting all over again. But how do you approach updating your building’s façade?

Sometimes building materials from the past just aren’t up to current standards and can cause building maintenance issues such as damp, heat loss, structural stress and sometimes more extreme issues such as subsidence.

Energy performance is major factor when considered upgrading a building’s façade. Older buildings can suffer from low energy performance and retrofitting a new exterior can really help to boost this. A proper, modern façade system can provided extra thermal performance, keeping the heat in.

If a building's façade is looking tired and worn it can be more than its aesthetic that is suffering. What systems can we retrofit to upgrade a building’s façade?


Cladding panels can be installed on an existing building easily and fairly cheaply. Cladding comes in all kinds of materials, styles and shapes, it can offer a myriad of design possibilities.

Cladding materials can include: timber, fibre cement, tiles, stone, metal, PVCu, brick and brick slips.

Brick slip cladding, for example, is lightweight as it consists of thin slices of brick fixed to a backing panel with adhesive which is then applied to the exterior of a building. Motor is then inserted in to the gaps for a realistic finish.

Timber cladding comes in various shapes and sizes from shingles to weatherboarding and is available in both hardwood and softwood. Timber cladding can be at risk of fading overtime, though treatments are available to prevent this and improve its thermal properties.

Timber can require more maintenance than metal cladding options. Wood-effect cladding fibre cement boards are also available for a timber-finish look with less upkeep.

Metal cladding is a popular option for commercial retrofit projects, offering a low-maintenance sleek finish.

External cladding can help a building’s insulation levels and protect a structural exterior wall from weather damage.


Rendering can be applied to external walls directly for a cheap, quick and easy upgrade. Render is available as a sand and cement based solution or a flexible polymer based system.

Rendering can hide the wear and tear of time and provide a sleep modern look to any building project. Rendering can also be used in conjunction with cladding and goes well with masonry or timber cladding.

Render can also increase the thermal performance of a building.

Curtain walling

Curtain walling is a lightweight, glazed façade system that can look super modern as well as increase a building’s thermal performance and stability.

Curtain walling can help protect a building from the elements such as air and water infiltration, wind induced sway and impact from forces such as earthquakes.

Though trickier to retrofit than external cladding, curtain walls are idea for modernising an existing building.

Find out more by visiting our facades hub!

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