Innovative James Hardie pre-cladding product to solve issues with Australian façade design

by | Feb 20, 2020

With a boom in construction and an increase in urban densification in Australian cities over the last decade, taller and more complex facades have become a defining feature of the building landscape.

In this environment, protecting a building from the elements and finding a balance between water and condensation management, air-tightness and non-combustibility has proven to be an ongoing challenge for architects, developers and builders.

Which is why leading building product manufacturer, James Hardie, has released its new RAB Board for the Australian market, that is designed to meet the building industry’s changing requirements for high-performance weather barriers.

Installed as a rigid barrier beneath external cladding or ventilated facades, RAB Board is made from James Hardie’s premium fibre cement and sealed with the company’s innovative CoreShield penetrating sealer technology, keeping water, air and wind out, while allowing moisture vapour to easily escape – enabling a building’s framing cavity to drain and dry.

As a result, this unique green panel delivers superior water resistance, long-term durability and strength, and is also suitable for use in non-combustible construction.

The launch of RAB Board is timely, considering a recent study[i] of over 200 Australian building defect reports and more than 3,000 individual defects, which showed that one-third of building fabric and cladding defects could be attributed to water penetration or moisture.

In turn, this water penetration leads to mould which not only has serious health implications for building occupants, but also has significant financial impacts, with the cost of remedial works expected to reach $6.2 million.

With this in mind, RAB Board provides a fully-certified solution that offers superior defence against wind and moisture, according to James Hardie Product Manager, Timothy Elliot.

“Smart façade design is key to compliance and performance, ensuring a building is fit for purpose and is protected from the elements – and this is where RAB Board comes in,” Mr Elliot said.

“Each building’s performance over its lifetime is contingent on four key elements – condensation management, weatherproofing, fire safety and energy efficiency – and the best way to do this is with a fit-for-purpose pre-cladding product such as RAB Board. A façade solution that includes RAB Board offers protection and peace of mind by overcoming poor building performance and improving comfort levels for occupants,” he said.

Importantly, RAB Board integrates with James Hardie’s fully-certified ExoTec façade system, as well as other commercial cladding systems – making it an ideal ‘all-in-one’ weather barrier in the construction of apartments, institutional buildings, commercial applications and energy-efficient homes.

“Typically, builders have attempted to construct compliant, weatherproof buildings through the use of sarking, plywood sheathing or metal sheets. However, each of these applications has its own problems – sarking can tear in high wind, plywood is combustible, and metal sheets can trap water, causing condensation and mould.”

“By comparison, RAB Board, which is simply taped at the joints, provides a continuous weatherproof seal across the building, creating an air barrier that prevents water driving into the building via joints and junctions, and a water barrier that stops moisture being absorbed through the sheet itself,” he said.

This continuous seal means that the RAB Board can be exposed for up to 180 days before installing the cladding, adds Mr Elliot, allowing builders to start working on the interior finishes, ultimately saving time and money. 

RAB Board is the result of James Hardie’s extensive innovation and research into durable and resilient façade design and is the latest in the company’s long line of innovative building products.

The product is also tried and tested in New Zealand, where it has been used since 2004 and has been installed across more than 3.3 million square metres of facades – equivalent to 393 rugby fields. 

RAB Board has grown to become a leader in rigid air barriers in the New Zealand market, covering a range of applications across both the residential and commercial sector.

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