<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://px.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=167161&amp;fmt=gif">
  • There are no suggestions because the search field is empty.
  • There are no suggestions because the search field is empty.
offcanvas close
  • There are no suggestions because the search field is empty.
beige and brick veneer apartment building

Choosing an Exterior Finish: 6 Options for New Architects to Consider

As a new architect in the workforce, it is important to understand the practical aspects of an exterior finish in addition to simply the aesthetics. Some building owners may require sustainable design principles, others may have budget as their primary concern. It is your role as the designer to prioritize the end user and the qualities most valuable to them.
tall brick apartment building with black balconiesConsidering all the factors that contribute to the design of a commercial façade can improve the long-term results and satisfaction of the owner and occupants. Beyond the look of the building, we’ll review the energy-efficiency, cost, durability and other similar building material features to help you make the best exterior cladding recommendations for your client.

Brick Veneer

Brick veneers have become a popular choice for those seeking the aesthetic of brick, while offering more advantages than traditional brick methods. Insulated brick veneers, like Dryvit’s NewBrick, offer a lightweight, quick and easy installation. NewBrick also increases energy efficiency of the structure with built-in insulation to reduce ongoing operational costs.


Vinyl siding is made of PVC plastic that can expand or contract with the environment. While being a low maintenance and affordable option, vinyl siding is not very sustainable and requires the use of fossil fuels for production and transportation. However, it is more durable than other organic finish options. There are also many different colors and designs available with vinyl siding, giving you more creative freedom.

Fiber Cement

Fiber cement siding is made as a combination of wood pulp and Portland cement to offer a look-a-like alternative to natural materials like wood. Fiber cement is also sustainably made from wood waste and does not use fossil fuel. One potential drawback of using fiber cement siding is that it can readily absorb moisture during its installation. However, it offers additional benefits like wind resistance and an added layer of safety due to its exceptional fire resistance.

Exterior of a building with gray metallic ReflectIt finish and red window framesMetal Panels

Metal panels used for exteriors are both durable and low maintenance, often requiring minimal to no repair work. They can be highly sustainable when manufactured from recycled materials, thus reducing landfill waste. These panels come in a broad array of styles and colors to suit different preferences. However, they can be quite heavy and costly, and may require extended lead times. Alternatively, acrylic coatings like Dryvit’s Reflectit can give the desired metallic look without the weight. Reflectit finishes are available in an array of colors and can be combined with other cladding options to create unique and exciting exteriors.


Stucco is a familiar finish that with modern developments has achieved an increased performance and aesthetic. With options like Dryvit’s DPR (Dirt Pickup Resistance) and E™ Finishes, you get the traditional stucco finish aesthetic over current framing technologies, creating a durable and water-resistant façade. This newly evolved stucco also is a cost-effective finish option with enough color and texture variety to help your building stand out from the rest.

Building exterior with brick and red exterior panelsPanelization

Panelization is a unique exterior option because it combines insulation and the architectural exterior finish into one step. With panelization systems like Dryvit’s Outsulite or Fedderlite, you can reduce labor costs and improve overall quality with prefabrication. There is also increased design flexibility with all of Dryvit’s textures and specialty finishes for various brick, stone, granite, and metal looks.

As an architect, when you're selecting a façade for a project, it's crucial to weigh multiple factors for each available option. These can include cost, environmental impact, design flexibility, among others. For your upcoming projects, ensure that you consider all these aspects to benefit both your work and your client. Remember, it's perfectly alright to reach out to manufacturers. Their representatives are always willing to guide you through any questions or concerns you may have.

join conversation icon

Join the conversation!

Tell us what you want to learn more about by sending us a topic you'd like to see in future articles.