Why efficiency is important when choosing materials for residential building facades

The materials you choose for exterior cladding have a big impact on the longevity and maintenance of your building. The use of efficient facade materials plays a vital role in optimizing operational energy needs and serving various functional qualities desired in modern buildings. Exterior cladding not only protects the building from the weather elements, but also provides noise control and thermal insulation, and adds visual appeal, making it a key element of any facade.

Siding choices are plentiful – over the years there has been an increase in the types of materials used for siding applications with options ranging from aluminium, glass, wood and brick to fiber cement, autoclaved aerated concrete (ACC) and steel. Architects and designers should give sufficient importance to the process of evaluating suitable cladding materials for the intended use.

“The choice of material depends on the purpose of the coating, the environmental conditions of the site, the architectural properties of the material and the limitations of the project,” explains John Lorente, executive general manager – construction, Big River Group.

Two of the most common materials used in residential construction are brick and CCA due to their exceptional architectural properties, longevity, and ease of fabrication. Although both are designed to function as exterior siding products and have many common characteristics, each material offers unique advantages for residential construction.

Big River Group has released a new informative guide for specifiers, identifying brick and CCA differentiators for cladding applications.

Autoclaved aerated concrete

Invented in the 1920s, ACC is a lightweight concrete product that was made to contain closed air pockets.

“Due to the closed ventilated structure of the material, ACC panels are very effective insulators, helping to reduce a building’s air conditioning load compared to conventional construction. AAC has up to four times the thermal resistance of standard house bricks. When integrated with an energy-efficient design, this superior thermal performance reduces the amount of energy needed to heat or cool the building, resulting in significant savings for owners,” says Lorente.

Benefits of building with ACC:

  • Sound insulation: Closed air pockets result in superior sound deadening and sound insulation properties.
  • Fire resistance: A porous structure gives superior fire resistance. It is also inorganic, non-combustible and non-explosive, so it is well suited for fire rated applications.
  • Good Strength and Durability: One-fifth the density of normal concrete, AAC offers half the load-bearing strength and can be safely used to erect structures up to three stories tall.
  • Speed ​​of construction and reduced costs: Lightweight and easier to handle on site with standard construction tools; ACC panels are also produced to the exact dimensions needed.
  • Environmental benefits: Composed of 80% air, AAC contains far fewer raw materials than standard concrete.
  • Modern Aesthetics: AAC panels are suitable for a wide range of modern architectural styles, with rendered finishes that can create distinctive visual effects and contemporary aesthetics.

All the benefits of building with ACC are found in Big River Group’s MaxiWall, a strong yet lightweight AAC wall panel reinforced with corrosion-protected steel mesh. Designed for buildings constructed with standard wood or steel framing, MaxiWall’s combination of excellent thermal performance, sound insulation and fire resistance provides an ideal option for all types of residential projects, from single-family homes to multi-residential housing. Its contemporary coated finish offers a sleeker, more durable alternative to traditional brick and concrete and its lightweight handling contributes to faster, more efficient installation, saving on cost, time and energy.


“Installing one panel of MaxiWall is equivalent to installing approximately 75 bricks, which creates a huge saving for builders and homeowners on-site compared to cost,” says Lorente. “Labor costs are reduced, as is material wastage on the job site. »


Bricks are among the most commonly used materials for residential construction due to their high strength, excellent fire resistance, durability, and aesthetic versatility.

Advantages of building with bricks

  • Constructability and Availability: Clay and concrete bricks are manufactured across Australia and readily available at competitive prices.
  • Durability: Bricks offer high levels of durability and resistance to the elements as they are also non-combustible, even after several decades they remain strong, reliable and relatively maintenance free.
  • Moisture Resistance: Terracotta masonry is not completely waterproof, but it effectively resists rainwater penetration with the proper details.
  • Low maintenance: Due to its strength and durability, some types of brick require little or no maintenance.
  • Thermal mass: Brick has exceptional properties of “thermal mass,” which refers to a material’s ability to absorb, store, and release heat.
  • Classic Appearance: The classic style of brick construction is warm and inviting with a selection of earthy hues and textures.

While CCA and brick are undoubtedly solid options to consider for a construction project and designed to function as exterior cladding products, each material offers unique advantages for home construction. AAC offers the added benefits of time and cost savings and durability. Ultimately, the decision to use AAC or brick will depend on the specific requirements of the project, including the desired aesthetic.

Download the whitepaper here.

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