Oct 17, 2019 Last Updated 10:52 AM, Aug 14, 2019

Fast-track school facades get top marks

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Meeting the broad building needs of schools is a challenge. Whether it's a new build or retrofit project, versatile, quality products are key to fulfilling the client's requirements explains John Mayes, Managing Director of cladding specialist Eurobrick.


Bringing building projects to completion within schedule and on budget can be a real trial for head teachers and local authorities. The shortage of places for pupils means that schools need to provide additional accommodation quickly. And they need building products that are robust and low maintenance.

Eurobrick brick slip cladding has been available in the UK for nearly 25 years. Brick cladding is a well-established and growing sector as its numerous benefits are widely recognised. We were the first company to introduce an insulated brick cladding system to Europe in 1991, and since then have become a leading supplier to the commercial, house building and public sector markets.

We’ve seen huge expansion in education projects in recent years, particularly with X-Clad, our tried and tested external wall insulation cladding system. It has third party product certification from the British Board of Agrément (BBA). The system comprises an insulated backer panel with a horizontal rib profile that ensures brick courses are correctly aligned. The panel is mechanically fixed to the substrate of the building and the brick slips are glued between the horizontal ribs. The installation is then completed using pointing mortar, which is piped into the joints before being struck to achieve a finish indistinguishable from traditional brickwork.

Enhanced waterproof finish

The green credentials of X-Clad are well established. It is a highly versatile cladding system with up to 100mm of insulation available. The insulation foam is closed cell extruded polystyrene, which offers a better weather and waterproof finish than other insulation solutions. The polystyrene used in Eurobrick’s backer panels has a certified BRE Green Guide Rating of A. In addition to being a low maintenance cladding system that will still look as good in 20 or 30 years as it does now, X-Clad offers the added benefit of a long-term reduction in energy bills. In domestic applications, heating bills have been shown to fall by as much as 30 per cent.

Insulated cladding systems are ideal for retrofit projects. One such project that Eurobrick was involved with between 2007 and 2009 was Arun Vale Infant School in West Sussex. The school wanted to extensively refurbish its 1970s Hauser-style buildings, replacing the original exterior panels that had deteriorated over time. The brief stated that the school needed a durable, low maintenance cladding, with an installation that would cause minimal disruption. Keen for the all works to be completed in the summer holidays, Arun Vale decided to use our X-Clad system. The first phase of this was 60 square metres. Our slimmest backer panel of 17mm was fixed to the plywood substrate and faced with brick slips in London Multi Buff to create a warm finish that complemented the existing buildings. It was then finished with a sandstone colour mortar for the pointing.

High impact for new builds

The school and education authority were both so pleased with the results that X-Clad was also used in the second phase of the refurbishment, bringing the total installation area to 165 square metres. This particular project even drew the attention of another neighbouring school in Barnham who have used the system in their building works too.

Cladding also works effectively in new-build projects. The Martin High School, in Anstey, Leicestershire, recently completed the second phase of an extensive expansion programme using X-Clad. Additional facilities were built to accommodate a large increase in the number of pupils, brought about when the school changed from a middle school to a comprehensive. The works were carried out in two stages between 2013 and 2014, in order to accommodate the scale of the works needed. The new two-storey buildings used the X-Clad system, finished with both brick and cedar cladding to create a distinctive, modern look.

By utilising fast track building methods, Martin High School’s work was completed within the required time scales. The benefits of X-Clad will be long lasting; it is extremely low maintenance, with a life span of at least 25 years.

In addition to Arun Vale, Hannah More School in Bristol is another excellent example of how modern cladding can be combined with older, existing buildings. This Victorian built school needed to expand and part of its growth plans included a new kitchen. We supplied 130 square metres of the X-Clad system for a brand new modular extension to the existing building. It was important to ensure that the colours and finishes were in keeping with the older parts of the school and to create a distinctive look a mix of brick bonds were used.

We have worked with schools for nearly 25 years, and have seen the number of projects increase annually. Our systems are robust enough to also be installed off-site, minimising disruption, and offering a fast-track solution to meet the varying needs of different schools.

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