Well these painted panels above the top of the window in this photo are an example.
This example is not very attractive in my opinion
Finishing up with painted infills like this is often a consequence of not having eaves and/or increasing ceiling height without considering window size (an easy thing to miss if you are building for the first time)
if you don’t like them make sure you check the builders elevation drawings carefully.
Why are they used?
Basically these are much cheaper for the builder than a brick infill as they save both the cost of a lintel and the brickwork.
They also make the construction of the required brick articulation joints for the builder simpler (see Brick Articulation Joints )
They can look better if you make them a feature. I once designed a house with painted infills at each gable end of the house. My solution was to use overlapping planks (painted cement sheets) rather than a single panel, and was quite pleased with the look.This approach could be used if you only realises you have infills late in the building process as you could nail them directly over the existing board.
Another approach particularly for North facing windows is have a small pergola set under the gutter this provides shade and makes the infill less obvious. (see Shading for dimensions of a pergola)
Appearance is very much a matter of taste with different people liking different styles, there no right solution.
If I put up a picture of something as the way to go than more people would think I was wrong, than would think I was right.
But here are a couple of thoughts:
Avoid being a fashion victim, by going for the latest builders style, which was designed with the aim of grabbing your attention…………… The ‘WOW’ factor……………. In a year or two the ‘WOW’ gimmick and fashion will have moved on. For example about 30 years ago in Australia there was a trend for white bricks, which looks really dated now.
Going for the Victorian look, which seems popular, but can be risky. . . One mistake I have seen is this big two storey Victorian mansion on a small block surrounded by single story modern houses. It looks more like a pub than a home.
I try and go for what you could call a timeless appearance but what’s that look like?
The best suggestion I can make is to walk round an estate near where you live that is around 20-30 years old.
Some of the houses you see will look very dated.
Other will look as though they could have been built a couple of years ago.
They won’t all look the same……………….. just timeless.
Take some photos of the ones you like to help you compare with other designs you come across.
Here are some things you should consider avoiding:
Too many different materials. Brick, render, stone, painted wood, stained wood, all on the same façade can look very messy.
Different sized windows. The human brain likes to see order and a range of different window heights and widths on the same wall looks confusing.
Anything with a structural appearance that looks obviously stuck on.
Roof out of proportion with house. Could be either too large or too small.
A front façade that doesn’t link in with rest of the house. Some really look as though they have been stuck on the front face, particularly when they stop at the corner rather that continuing to a natural break point.
What trend do you think will mark a house as a Fashion Victim?
This addendum was added to an original Post from 2014 as there has been a lot of publicity recently (late February 2019) about foam panels and certification has been removed from certain types of panels.
A particular issue for apartment blocks has been related to high speed spread across the surface of the panels to other flats.
On a standard house the render should protect the insulation from external flames. (If flames penetrate the plasterboard, from the inside, it is likely that the occupants will either have already evacuated, or be dead before the insulation ignites) n
Nevertheless you should review whether the potential risks from foam panels are acceptable to you.
Rendered Foam walls are becoming much more common, particularly in the upper floor of 2 storey homes. They offer a real advantage in situations where it would be difficult to provide adequate suppport for a heavy brick wall (For example when the upper floor needs to be set back from the ground floor)
The Foam boards, which are manufactured with an external mesh face, are fixed to the frame with special galvanised screws that incorporate spreader washers.
Joints are sealed with a polyurethane foam and have mesh jointing tape.
External corners are reinforced with metal strips.
A minimum of 5mm of acrylic render is applied, normally in a three layer system.
There are 2 different types of foam used in this construction method:
Expanded polystyrene( EPS) – Good thermal performance but limited impact resistance/structural strength.
Extruded polystyrene (XPS) – Similar thermal performance and looks similar but the production method is different which results in increased impact resistance and structural strength. Higher cost
Insulation values for the various board thicknesses are:
50mm – R 1.2
75mm – R 1.8
100mm – R 2.4
Although there are some advantages in this system it does require careful detailing and construction otherwise leakage can occur damaging your house.
The advantage of masonry on the lower part of the house is that it is less likely to be damaged by the bumps and bangs of daily life. Once the wall is above head height damage becomes less of an issue and the rendered foam board should be fine.
I’d prefer XPS to EPS.
Although the insulation values are good the builder will most likely want to save the cost of the insulation batts in the frame. If you ask for the wall to include insulation batts you will have an exceptionally well insulated wall at very little extra cost.
I am spending some of my time, while I am travelling in the USA, looking at Architecture.One of my favourite architects is Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW) and this is me in front of the Martin House in Buffalo.
I often talk about timeless design rather than following the latest fashion and this house is a great example.
It looks as though it could have been built last year although it is over 100 years old!
This is the Robie House in Chicago, which FLW considered the best example of his ‘Praire House’ style.
Below is just one of many FLW houses in Oak Park a Chicago suburb where Frank Lloyd Wright also lived.
If you happen to live in Western Australia, you get to experience more sunshine hours than almost anywhere in the world,
With the outdoor lifestyle firmly embedded into the culture, you really should spend some time thinking about your outside area.
With a little creativity and a suitable budget, you could transform the most important area of the home, and make it a special area for you, your family, and your friends to enjoy.
A Comprehensive Solution
There are online companies that are dedicated to transforming outdoor areas, and for those who live in Western Australia, Perth Better Homes provide patios in Perth, and their in-house design team will help you to explore the possibilities, and whatever the outcome, they have the resources and the know how to make it happen.
They are experts at designing and creating unique outdoor areas that blend in perfectly with the home, and they can work to the client’s budget, which is ideal.
This type of company would be able to arrange landscaping, awnings, lighting and garden furniture, and if you wanted to start from scratch, they would have the resources to complete the project.
Maximise your Summer Enjoyment
Having a nice terraced area with adequate shading and nice furniture is by far the best way to experience the long summer days and evenings, and with an outdoor kitchen, the patio is complete.
Entertaining will take on a whole new dimension, and your party dates will soon be etched on everyone’s calendar, and with some professional help at the design stage, you really can’t go wrong.
Add Living Space
If you have a very comfortable terraced area, you have effectively increased your living space, and with the right screening, the area can be turned into a room and can be used all year round.
If the patio is adjoined to the rear or the side of the property, you can install some sliding or bi-folding aluminium doors, which gives you easy access to the outdoor area.
Al Fresco Dining
There is definitely something special about enjoying a nice meal in a quiet, shaded area of the garden, and if al fresco is up your street, the perfect ambience can be achieved with the right awning and some suitable garden furniture.
This Mediterranean style is very popular in Australia, as the climate is ideal, and with the right lighting, the evenings will give you and your family a warm, inviting glow.
Complement the Property
You probably have your home just as you want it, but imagine what you could do if you added a stylish patio?
It would certainly add value to the property and with the right design,and would complement the residence, and you and your family will always have a special reason for looking forward to the arrival of summer.
With the right help, there is no limit to what you can achieve in the garden, and the unlimited design options means your garden will have a truly unique look that will be the envy of all.
I think it can look well if its used with restraint and understanding.
Unfortunately I don’t think this example that I recently saw qualifies.
Those triple block features at the window are supposed to represent Quoins (stone blocks to reinforce corners) . . . .that and the over complex single pattern on the building corners are the opposite of what you would see on a genuine old patterned brick house.
A much better option would be to have the ‘Quoins’ on the corners and a plain brick window edge.
Do you agree? . . or do you think I’m just being picky?