Some homes with monolithic cladding types are at risk of being leaky buildings, so you need to be specially vigilant in your maintenance checks.
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Monolithic cladding is made of sheets that are coated to give the seamless appearance of concrete, masonry or plaster
EIFS cladding sheets are made up of polystyrene boards with a plaster and paint finish. This type of cladding has been popular in New Zealand since the 1980s.
How to identify it?
These cladding sheets are made from cement, fine sand and cellulose, with a textured coating applied and painted after the sheets have been installed onto the walls. This type of cladding has been around since the 1970s.
How to identify it?
Cement-based plaster is applied over a variety of backings including fibre-cement and plywood sheeting. It is then painted. This is the oldest of the three types of monolithic cladding and has been used in New Zealand since the 1920s.
How to identify it?
The main things to look for are:
Water might get in through holes, cracks, loose cladding, fixings, joints that have separated, around doors and windows, anywhere where the sealing has failed, and any area where water can pool against the cladding.
Signs that water has got in include:
Vulnerable areas to pay attention to:
For general maintenance, wash the cladding regularly. You may be required to wash at specific intervals to keep the warranty valid. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Washing the cladding will extend the life of the materials. It’s particularly important for houses near the sea.
To wash, use a soft brush and low-pressure hose, concentrating on areas rain doesn't reach, like walls sheltered by eaves. For sea spray, moss and lichen, you might have to use specific cleaning products or a one part bleach to four parts water solution and soft brush. Hose off residue with plenty of water and avoid using ladders around wet areas as much as possible. Check with the manufacturer of your cladding and your local hardware store if you are unsure.
Before you wash, check for cracks or damage.
Don’t use a high pressure water blaster as it can damage claddings.
You may be able to make minor repairs to cladding yourself, but for any monolithic cladding system you should contact the manufacturer for advice on the correct products to use. If you don’t know which system you have, try to identify a similar system and follow the general advice from that manufacturer.
If the cladding is a specialised system and less than 15 years old, it may still be under warranty. Again, contact the manufacturer if you know who this is.
If your house is a leaky building you’ll need professional help. If the house is less than 10 years old, you may be able to make a claim under the Weathertight Homes Resolution Act 2002.
Some homes with monolithic cladding types are at risk of being leaky buildings. Design and installation are critical factors in ensuring your home is protected from being a leaky building. If the design is inherently flawed, comprehensive work beyond maintenance may be required to solve the leaking long term.
If your home is at risk of being a leaky building, you need to be especially vigilant in your maintenance checks. Carry out a careful inspection of the cladding at least once a year.
For stucco check carefully for cracking of the plaster, check around flashings and other penetrations through the plaster and seek professional advice if you have any concerns.
For texture coated fibre-cement look particularly for cracks in the jointing. Cracks in joints should be raked out and reformed, do not attempt to seal with sealant. Contact an approved applicator to carry out repairs to the cladding. Check the waterproof coating to ensure re-painting is not required.
For EIFS pay particular attention to the corners of windows and exposed edges and anywhere that the paint finish might wear or crack. Do not attempt to repair with sealant but contact an approved applicator. It may be that only certain areas require recoating. Many EIFS systems in New Zealand are specialised systems. If you are able to identify which system your home has, follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions for maintenance and repair. If you cannot establish the specific cladding system at your home, the literature on the product which it most closely resembles will give you some generic guidance on maintenance.
Look for signs that moisture might be soaking up into the cladding, often indicated by darker colouration along the bottom edges of the cladding.
If you have concerns that you may have a leaky home you should seek professional advice.
Organisations that can provide further information on the leaky building issue include:
The government's Weathertight Homes Resolution Service – call them on 0800 116 926 between 8.30am and 7.00pm (Monday to Friday).
BRANZ Helpline on 0900 5 90 90 (calls cost $1.99/min +GST).
The New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors on 0800 113 400.
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