Of the 28 million properties in the UK, a large proportion are rendered, or at least coated, with some form of protection like pebbledash. However, while pebbledash was vastly popular pre-1930, this aesthetic is now largely considered outdated, making render the go-to for creating a clean, modern look. In this blog, we investigate why render is so popular and the best products to create an incredible finish on your property or home.
Originally, UK properties were built with either brick or block. Over time, however, the mortar fusing the bricks together would break down due to natural weathering. Replacing the damaged mortar – known as re-pointing – is incredibly time consuming and, as such, very expensive. Therefore, a feasible alternative to re-pointing a property is to apply render. Render acts as a protective layer for a property; not only does it disguise the existing damaged mortar, but it provides a new facade for the brickwork, offering a clean, modern finish.
Traditionally, sand and cement render – typically six parts sand, one part cement and one part lime – was applied to the surface of a property. This render would be applied at a thickness of about 20mm and be coated with paint to complete the aesthetic. As with mortar however, the issue with these traditional renders was that, over time, they would crack due to the natural movements of the buildings by season, expanding in the summer months and shrinking in the winter months. While the addition of lime was intended to provide flexibility to adapt to such movements, the render was still not flexible enough to withstand these movements, causing hairline cracks. Such cracks cause further issues as they would provide an entry point for water to travel behind the render system and, as such, cause it to come away from the wall.
EWI-265 One Coat Render (OCR) – 25kg£9.00 (incl VAT)
In the 90s, several manufacturers introduced a render known as “monocouche”, French meaning “one coat”. Monocouche render is easier to use than sand and cement render as it is premixed, typically four parts sand and one part cement with various other additives; all you need to do is add water. It is applied at a similar thickness to sand and cement render however, once applied, it is scraped to provide a chalkier finish. Monocouche render always uses white Portland cement as the binder; the white base allows for the manufacturer to add a coloured pigment to the render, meaning it does not require paint on top. As such, monocouche became increasingly popular in the 2000s, becoming the go-to product for those looking to render their properties.
Again, monocouche render ultimately comes with its downfalls. Firstly, as with sand and cement render, the thickness of monocouche render means that it cannot withstand the seasonal structural movements of the building, therefore causing cracks which again create an entry point for water. Secondly, while monocouche looks fantastic on application, it becomes a hot bed for algae growth as it encounters water. The biological growth on the monocouche can quickly lead to discolouring so, while it initially looks great, it quickly starts to look messy and requires a lick of paint to keep it looking fresh.
Then, in early 2000 came silicone renders – sometimes referred to as thin-coat renders – from Eastern Europe. Silicone render fundamentally differed from sand and cement render and ultimately replaced monocouche render. As opposed to a 20mm-thick render, the silicone render maxed out at 7mm and consisted of two main layers: a 4-6mm cementitious basecoat with embedded fibreglass mesh, and a silicone render topcoat typically at 1.5mm thick, although 0.5mm, 1mm, 2mm and 3mm grain sizes are also available. The fibreglass mesh in the basecoat is vital; it provides the render system the ability to flex with and absorb a building’s natural movements, making it crack-resistant – the defining factor and main benefit of silicone render.
Much like paint, silicone renders can also be tinted to any colour, providing infinite design options to apply to your property or home. Monocouche renders do come in various colours however, since pigments need to be added in the factory, they are very limited. So, if you need to match a specific colour – for instance, RAL-7016 anthracite grey – then silicone render is the obvious choice as it can quickly be tinted to match the required colour.
What’s more, silicone renders are hydrophobic, meaning that they possess self-cleaning properties which repel water. This means that, whenever it rains, the rain carries away any dirt particles from the render system, so the facade stays cleaner for longer. The EWI Pro Premium Bio Silicone render also has added slow-release biocides within the render, helping to prevent biological growth, which is especially useful if the render is being applied in areas of high vegetation.
Finally, unlike sand and cement and monocouche renders, silicone renders are lightweight, meaning that they are ideal to use in conjunction with external wall insulation systems. The weight of sand and cement and monocouche renders can pull the face of the insulation away and are therefore not recommended to be applied on top of insulation materials.
As this blog has established, render technology has changed significantly over the last 30 years. Whether you have a property that has existing damaged render that needs an upgrade, or even a new build like an ICF or a timeframe building on which you desire an advanced render system, then look no further than silicone render. With a silicone render system, you can rest assured that the facade will not crack over time and will likely stay much cleaner than either sand and cement or monocouche render, therefore providing a render system that will last for years to come.