The Differences Between Rainscreen Walls and Cavity Walls

Various names have been coined to describe the outer covering of buildings. One particular term that stuck so well is rainscreen cladding. Basically, the term is derived from the outer façade of buildings that functions as a protective barrier and protects buildings from elements of weather and other factors.

In essence, these “outer walls” are the shells that provide a barrier to wind, rain, temperature, humidity, and sunlight. They’re also designed with well-ventilated systems to add more functionality to their structure.

At the same time, there are other cladding techniques aside from the use of rainscreen walls. An example and today’s focus is the concept of cavity walls. At first glance, cavity walls seem nothing more than a synonym for rainscreen cladding, but a deeper look outlines the major differences and erases any confusion.

Therefore, to make things clearer, it’s important to understand what each rainscreen and cavity walls offer alongside their differentiating properties.

What Is Rainscreen Cladding?

To define rainscreen cladding requires a thorough look at its features and functions. It’s a protective barrier set up to block out elements that could tarnish the structure and beauty of buildings. In essence, anything ranging from sun rays to rain are blocked and their effects negated.

The components of rainscreen cladding are engineered and designed into several components that make up the rainscreen wall unit. These components include the specific material e.g., aluminium or terracotta, the arrangement used to fasten the rainscreen veneer, the dimension of the air gap, the air barrier, and the drainage mesh.

When looking at the material or materials, rainscreen walls are made of terracotta, steel, aluminium, brick, or other composite panels. For a blend of aesthetics and durability, some may even opt for innovative choices such as thin stone veneer, introducing a timeless and natural appeal to the protective rainscreen system. The materials are often lightweight, making it easier to fasten them to the framework that supports the façade.

What Is Cavity Wall Cladding?

As for cavity walls, they differ from rainscreen cladding in the sense that they are composed of simple veneer that is separated by airspace and contains a vapour barrier. Cavity walls also contain flashings that round the base and extend from the face of the veneer.

In addition to the veneer material, cavity walls get rid of moisture through various routes. To be exact, there are two manners in which the moisture is eliminated. Firstly, moisture is moved by the influence of gravity to the flashing level, where it exits the cavity.

The other option is its (moisture) conversion to vapour, after which it evaporates through the veneer face through vents.

Rainscreen Walls Vs. Cavity Walls

To keep it simple, rainscreen and cavity walls differ in their structures. For cavity walls, the main cavity is significantly larger than the air gap found in rainscreen walls. This cavity is what deflects when faced with atmospheric pressure and thermal exposure.

On the other hand, rainscreen claddings are known for their pressure-equalised walls and material-to-material joints. The combination of these structures helps prevent moisture from seeping into the walls and provides a barrier against negative atmospheric pressures.


Getting rid of any confusion concerning the use of rainscreen walls and cavity walls is important. You mustn’t buy materials that are incompatible, so be sure to check out the basic features and functions next time you’re in the market for cladding panels.

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