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House Rendering: Which Render is Right For You?

House Rendering - rendering a house and extension
(Image credit: Getty Images)

House rendering is a brilliant way to cover up unattractive brickwork and leave your house looking stylish and clean. It is the perfect way to transform a dated-looking house into something special with lots of kerb appeal.

Render is essentially a plastered finish you add to external walls and comes in a huge range of finishes, colours and doesn't have to break the budget. 

The best thing about rendering a house, like cladding, is that you don't have to cover the whole house. You can render a new extension or mix it with another form of cladding such as stone or timber for a modern finish.

Our guide covers everything from costs, to render types and colours.

(MORE: Cladding a House)

What is House Rendering?

House render is a type of cladding for the exterior of the house and is just one of many cladding options.

It is applied to the exterior of a home, much like plaster is applied to the interior walls. 

There are two main reasons for house rendering:

  • To protect the underlying walling material from the effects of weathering and rainwater penetration
  • To provide an attractive appearance to the house

These days there is an ever-growing range of house rendering products, from the more traditional lime renders, popular with renovators and those extending period houses, to those that also provide insulation and through-coloured renders.

(MORERender Repair)

House Rendering - rendering a house and extension

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How Much Does it Cost to Render a House?

House render costs vary depending on the area your house renovation is in, the size and experience of your tradesperson and the house itself, in some cases.

External house rendering, using a sand and cement method, with a finer topcoat costs around £35-60/m², including two coats of external masonry paint.

Monocouche rendering tends to cost upwards of £40/m².

Lime render is tends to be more time-consuming to apply as therefore costs start at a little more. From £45-50+/m² can be expected.

If you plan on fitting external insulation, with a render finish, you can expect costs of approx. £70-90+/m².

Do I Need Planning Permission to Render my House? 

If you live in a terraced or semi-detached house chances are you won't need planning permission to render your house but you will need to think about how the new look render will affect your neighbours.

Most exterior updates such as render, cladding, stone, pebble dash, timber fall under Permitted Development

However it is not permitted under Permitted Development on any dwelling house located on Article 1(5) land which includes designated areas like an AONB, National Park, World Heritage site or Conservation Area.

It's always best to check with your local planning department before starting work.

House Rendering - render

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Can I Render my House on a DIY Basis?

Rendering a house is a job best left to the professionals as you will want to get a wonderful, smooth finish for the render to look its best. 

Doing it at speed and with enough precision to make it look good is very skilled work, and much like plastering walls, it takes time and expertise.

(MORE: DIY to Leave to the Professionals)

Types of House Render 

Cement render is the standard or traditional render used on external walls and it is usually mixed on site before being applied in two or three coats. 

The base coats (or scratch coats) are scored when they are still wet to give a key for the next layer. The top coat is applied more thinly and given a shiny finish, ready for painting.

Below are the types of house render to choose from:

Cement render:

This tends to be cheap in terms of materials, but a little more expensive on labour due to the numerous coats. It also has a tendency to crack if the underlying structure should move.

Cement renders require regular repainting if they are to continue to look good.

Polymer render:

These are usually sold pre-mixed in bags with either white cement or lime as a base.

They have polymers and other plastic-based products added to them to make the render less prone to cracking. They are available in a variety of colours and are often through-coloured, which does away with the need for painting.

Acrylic render:

Acrylic renders are most often applied as a thin finish coat to seal and enhance the appearance or the underlying coat. They also bring colour and texture. Fibres are added to prevent cracking and give a durable, lasting finish.

House Rendering - rendering a house and extension

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Silicone render:

This is also used as it promises even longer life and the capacity to be self-cleaning — some claim that when it rains, the silicone will allow rainwater to wash away any dirt!

What is Monocouche Render?

Monocouche (French for ‘single layer’ or ‘bed’ renders) are relative newcomers to the world of house rendering. These products originated in Europe, so many of the big names – Sto, Knauf, Marmorit and Weber – are European.

Monocouche render is supplied in bags, ready for mixing with water. It can be applied by hand trowel or sprayed on.

Monocouche renders use white cement and are pre-coloured (in any colour you want). They can be applied in one coat (typically around 15mm thick), so are quicker and therefore less labour intensive than traditional house rendering products.

The main disadvantage of Monocouche is the material cost:

  • A 25kg bag of Monocouche render costs between £8-£10 and only covers a m² of wall area
  • A 25kg bag of traditional cement render costs around around £1/m².

It is important to note though that monocouche render systems will save you on labour costs and maintenance — there is no need for re-painting.

Monocouche renders have additives which make them more flexible and help to eliminate cracking. They can even be ‘self cleaning’.

(MORE: External Makeover Ideas)

Why Use Lime Render?

Lime plastering was the traditional method for house rendering in this country and there has fairly recently been a re-emergence of interest.

Lime render is really the best option for old houses, like this one built in the 17th century, where a breathable finish is essential for the house to work as it was originally intended

Although lime-based plaster tends to be a little harder to apply than regular Portland cement – meaning it is more commonly used in renovation projects and for conservation work – both Baumit and K Rend now supply polymer-enhanced lime renders which aim to overcome any related difficulties.

(MORE: Renovating Traps to Avoid)

House Rendering - render

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lime plaster is a great option for those looking for a breathable house rendering system.

The advantages of lime render in include:

  • It is more flexible than cement
  • It is breathable so prevents problems with moisture getting trapped within the wall — a common problem where cement renders are applied to old walls.
  • It looks very attractive and enhances the exterior of period homes in particular — though it does require regular coating with lime wash.

Lime house rendering products come in many different formats, including:

  • Traditional lime putties (bought wet, by the tub)
  • Bagged hydraulic limes, which behave rather like a weak cement. They need to be mixed on site with sand, and are hand trowelled in the traditional way.
  • Monocouche lime renders — try K-Rend and Baumit

Lime render is a little more expensive than standard cement renders, but doesn't usually take any longer to apply and are a must for many period properties if problems with damp are to be avoided.

(MOREHow to Treat Damp)

What Colours Does House Render Come in?

House Rendering - rendering a house and extension

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Render can either be painted or supplied as a through-coloured mix. Although through-coloured render tends to be a little more expensive, it is lower maintenance, requiring no subsequent re-painting.

House rendering can be painted or supplied in any colour you wish, but aim for a tone that either fits in with the materials used on the rest of your home or of that used in the local area.

Bear in mind that certain colours, such as a crisp white, will need cleaning or repainting more often in order to stay looking crisp! That said, there are now self-cleaning renders out there, such as PermaRock’s Nano-Quartz technology renders. 

These have a surface designed to make it hard for dirt to stick, meaning rain and wind will natural wash them off.

Mixing Render with Other Finishes

If you plan on using a combination of cladding materials on your house – great for visual appeal and to avoid a look that is too clinical on contemporary homes – there are a few factors to consider:

  • The junction between two different cladding types give rise to potential waterproofing and airtightness problems
  • It increases costs due to the requirement for separate suppliers and trades — it is also important to schedule each trade so they don’t overlap
  • You need to consider the difference between those cladding which are self-supporting (brick and stone, for example) and those which need to be attached to something, such as render

Can I Use Render with External Wall Insulation?

In the UK, much of the insulation upgrading has been done via the cavity wall, but cavity construction is uncommon in other countries. There the preference has been to add insulation to the outside of the existing walls and then render over the insulation.

In cases where there is no cavity wall insulation (and no way of adding it in this way, in houses with solid walls, for example) it is useful to consider external wall insulation (EWI) systems.

These are made up of insulation layers, meshes and top coat renders.

External wall insulation promises a modern, clean-looking finish and is a great idea for those worried about adding insulation internally to solid walls due reducing internal spaces.

While these new systems are more expensive than traditional cement renders, they can often be applied in one coat — greatly reducing labour costs. They can also be applied directly to blockwork or some other substrate and this has proved popular with those seeking a clean, contemporary finish.