James Hardie has today launched the latest in a series of planned product innovations; the HardieWindbreaker™ sheathing board.

Adam Botterill, country manager for James Hardie UK, comments: “As a world leading materials manufacturer, we believe in developing products that will give specifiers and contractors maximum design flexibility.”

“Reducing site time is a key innovation driver in the industry at present, and consequently, we have seen a sharp increase in the application of lightweight steel framing systems, together with a steady decrease in the use of blockwork. For us, offering an engineered sheathing board is a key part of our product offering to accommodate emerging market trends.”

“Both commercial and residential design styles are changing; architects want flexibility to design using mixed materials and oblique angles, and developers want a quicker, easier installation that will achieve the end result on time, to budget, and with minimal disruption to surrounding communities.”

“The use of lightweight construction with complementary sheathing boards allows for the development of lighter, more sustainable buildings that can be delivered at speed, without the need for wet trades or specialised labour that is in short supply.”

HardieWindbreaker™ sheathing boards can be used to quickly weather-proof a building during the construction phase, allowing interior trades to commence work faster and boost productivity on site. With an engineered fibre cement core encapsulated in a robust, water repellent sealer, the boards will not warp or shrink when exposed to adverse climates, and offer a guaranteed 12 months exposure during construction. The boards are lightweight, easy to cut flexible to handle and can be fixed using either screws, staples or nails.

HardieWindbreaker boards are A2 non-combustible, offering 60 minutes fire protection in compliance with current Building Regulations Approved Document B (fire safety).

Designed and tested across both the US and European research and development facilities at James Hardie, materials scientists have ensured the final product delivers superior weather tightness and enhanced performance in extra high wind zones, offering wind resistance up to 5800 UFL (approx. 350 miles per hour)*. The product comes with a 15 year manufacturers’ warranty.

*Mechanical fixing to SFS frames

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From housebuilders to homeowners, James Hardie, the UK’s leading fibre cement cladding manufacturer, has seen a significant shift in colour trends, which is why the company is launching a brand-new colour palette. The new palette features four new colours, Anthracite Grey, Grey Slate, Pearl Grey and Rich Espresso; two of which are European exclusives, and all of which take inspiration from a change in taste to monochrome.

In recent months James Hardie worked alongside many industry experts, including the late Professor Will Alsop OBE, world-renowned architect and director of aLL Design, to extensively research colour trends in the UK residential sector. This resulted in some fascinating insight into the shift in trends around UK home design. The research showed that in the last five years, there has been an emerging trend in monochrome and muted design styles, with homeowners choosing black, grey, white and off-white shades. In the last year, these colours have accounted for more than 70% of cladding sales, whereas five years ago the same palette would have accounted for just under 50% of sales.

Rob Windle, managing director for James Hardie UK comments: “Across the full spectrum of our customers – architects, housebuilders, specifiers and homeowners – we know that a property’s exterior is an important way to make a design statement. Will Alsop was renowned for his imaginative use of colour and, through his lens, we have created a colour palette that is both bold and elegant.

James Hardie

Colour choice in facades is a vital part of our design process. As trends change we wanted to make sure we created a new generation of classics, not simply to respond to fashion, and I really believe this new palette will last for many years to come.

A monochrome palette is surprisingly far-reaching, offering the chance to be understated and restrained, or imaginative and striking. It is exciting to release the palette into the market and see the varied outcomes realised in inspirational design.”

Tracey Kisbee of Taylor Roberts architects added, “As a practice working on many housing schemes, we have been specifying James Hardie cladding products for several years now. We are very excited about this new colour palette, as it will greatly enhance our offering to clients who are looking to capitalize on the latest colour trends. The new colours are a big step forward and the new palette gives a fresh, contemporary offering to the rainscreen facades market.”

Grey slate is a deep, warm grey reminiscent of polished antique silver, while anthracite grey is a bold, modern grey that is intensified by blue undertones, perfect for creating strongly defined lines. Pearl grey is an elegant white-toned neutral inspired by the softest colours in nature, while the opposing rich espresso is a classic dark shade of subtle brown.

The new colours are manufactured using the James Hardie ColourPlus Technology; a formula which took more than four years to develop and ensures that the company’s weatherboards are UV, fade, rot and weather resistant. The firm’s fibre cement exterior range (including well-known brands HardiePlank and HardiePanel cladding) offers a non-combustible, fire resistant product with the highest possible fire rating for any colour facade board.

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Extensive James Hardie colour research has noted an emerging trend towards monochrome and muted design styles over the last five years, with architects opting to create elegant design statements in black, grey, white and off-white hues, in line with changing tastes of homeowners.

Monochrome might be leading the way in terms of volume, but it’s not an entirely black and white picture when it comes to UK house design:

  • In the last year, monochrome shades have accounted for over 70% of all cladding sales. Five years ago, the same palette would have accounted for just under 50%.
  • From the Hardie colour palette, Arctic White – a pure white – Soft Green and Light Mist (off-whites with hints of pastel blue and green) make up more than a third of all the company’s UK sales today.
  • Blue is becoming increasingly popular with sales of lighter and darker shades doubling over the past three years.
  • Sales of reds and greens are down by 20% while browns, previously integral to achieving an authentic wood effect, now account for less than 10% of all Hardie sales.
  • The James Hardie colour research is showing distinctiveness in palette choices across the UK, with remarkable differences in preference separated only by a few miles.
  • After white, one of the biggest sellers in Essex is Midnight Black, accounting for nearly a quarter of all James Hardie sales there. Yet in neighbouring Kent, it is one of the least used Hardie shades.
  • Elegant light blue weatherboard Light Mist has doubled its sales in Essex, but in Devon it is rarely used. These differences can to some extent be explained by environment, not just fashion trends.
  • No matter which county, in coastal areas, the consistent desire for pastels. Creams, pale blues and greens still dominate coastal sales, reinforcing how classic British seaside chic doesn’t look set to go out of style any time soon.

Rob Windle, James Hardie’s European commercial director explained: “As a leading materials manufacturer, we believe in developing products that will give architects the maximum design flexibility, not just in following the current design trends but in paving the way for future innovation.

“For us, colour choice in facade design is a key part of this. Colour palettes are changing and we aim to provide the right tools to design homes that will last for generations to come.

“Over the past decade, we have seen a real design shift taking place in the UK residential sector. The muted brick and block-style housing of the 1990s has been replaced with mixed-use building products and accents in next-generation smart materials such as fibre cement. The use of colour is also an increasingly important design consideration.”

The new Hardie research is showing homeowners are increasingly seeing the exterior of their home as an opportunity to make a personal design statement, much like the interior of their house. This is resulting in more flexible briefs for architects, lending the freedom to design with more colour creativity in mind.

And this shift is producing some stunningly bold results, with mixing colours, materials and installation techniques including horizontal, vertical and even diagonal cladding.

Popular material blends comprise red and yellow brick with render, cladding or hanging tiles; render and cladding; wood and fibre cement or metallic cladding together – mixing of natural materials and advanced technology is now another emerging trend James Hardie is observing.

Housebuilders are being braver too – top developers are paving the way with design statements. Berkeley Homes’ 750 house village development at Green Park in Reading boasts seven different coloured facades currently under construction, with more colours to come.

According to James Miller, buyer at Bellway Homes Kent office, “There are local differences in the colours we choose for facade cladding. This is mostly connected to environmental characteristics. For instance, in the South East, where we have many leafy suburbs, we would tend to avoid green shades as this would cause housing to ‘blend in’ too much to the surroundings, rather than providing a contrast. Ultimately we aim for the best colours to complement the natural environment”.

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