Cladding encompasses a wide range of building envelopes such as curtain walling and structural glazing systems.
There are many different types of products available to contractors. This causes the supply base to be highly fragmented. Clay, concrete and facing bricks form the largest product group in the sector. The other main types of cladding used on private housebuilding developments are rendered blockwork and artificial stone.
Steel and aluminium-profiled and composite wall panels comprise the second largest product group. They are used in warehousing, out-of-town retail, waste management/utilities facilities and industrial units. The decrease of activity in the industrial and retail sectors has negatively affected demand for metal cladding.
The sector experienced a volatile period during the recession. In 2008/09, sales took a dramatic dip. It is estimated that between 2007 and 2010, the total wall cladding area installed in the UK declined from over 50,000,000 sq m in 2007 to 37,000,000 sq m. However, 2010/11 saw a a small increase in demand. This was helped by improvements in investor confidence and increasing activity in notable sectors such as the housebuilding and commercial office sectors. While short term prospects in 2012/13 remained volatile, the sector is expected to show some growth in the medium term. However, there will be significant variations between cladding materials.*
Refurbishment is forecast to be a large area of opportunity for the cladding industry. Overcladding and re-cladding are common, especially in the social housing, industrial and education sectors. These opportunities will be further boosted by building insulation requirements and the continuing refinement of the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) policies.