Thinking of building a feature wall in your outdoor space? Here are the top things you need to consider before you get started.
Things to consider for exterior feature walls
When deciding on an exterior feature wall, selecting the best location is essential to its overall success. This will greatly depend on the orientation of the architecture, the outdoor facilities and your requirements for a feature wall.
Exterior feature walls can be connected to the architecture to create a sense of flow and continuity or be a standalone element with the garden. Some of the popular locations for a feature wall outside include:
- Adjoining the building’s façade
- Surrounding a pool
- As a backdrop for a water feature
- Inside an outdoor room
- An extension of an outdoor fireplace
- An exterior wall of an outdoor kitchen
- Along the property’s perimeter
- Within an external entrance
2. Appropriate substrate
Each material or feature wall finish will have individual guidelines for the substrate required. Natural stone, for example, requires a structural substrate to adhere the cladding onto. Even paints may require a certain finish or material for long-term durability and adherence when used outdoors.
Checking the specifications of your chosen feature wall material is imperative. It may not be feasible to construct a structural wall in the location you have chosen or you may be limited by an existing surface.
3. Material suitability
Exterior feature walls are often fully exposed to weather conditions such as rain, wind, dirt, mold, pool chemicals and pollutants.
When selecting a material for your feature wall, you’ll want to ensure it is suitable for your individual application. Sealed, natural stone, for example, is much suitable poolside than a manufactured stone veneer.
Understand the pros and cons of natural stone vs manufactured stone here.
While the material may be approved for external use, it’s important to have an understanding of how it will weather and respond to the environment. A timber feature wall, for example, will fade if left unstained. But, you’ll also want to know if it will warp, rot or be subjected to mold over time.
There is no doubt, opting for the best quality suitable material you can afford will prove beneficial long term.
4. Ongoing maintenance
If your chosen material requires a high level of maintenance chances are your feature is going to less of a feature and more of an unsightly addition to your outdoor space.
When selecting a material or finish for your feature wall, enquire about the ongoing maintenance required. Some questions to ask include:
- Will it need resealing?
- Do you need to stain it?
- Can you pressure wash the material?
- What cleaning products can you use?
- Can you repair sections if required?
- Is it easy to remove dirt, cobwebs from the surface?
5. Visual cohesion
When planning your exterior feature wall, consider how it is going to relate with the rest of your landscape and architecture. Linking it to other parts of your home will achieve visual cohesion.
This can be achieved by using the same material elsewhere in the home or picking up tones that are existing in the interior or garden. You can strengthen the relationship with the interior and outdoor space by creating a feature wall that extends from the inside of your home out.
6. Create depth
One of the benefits of installing a feature wall outside is the depth it adds to your space. The grooves or texture in a material creates a play of light and shadow adding visual appeal to your outdoor area. It can also look effective when viewing from inside your interior.
You can add depth through materials such as dry stone walling or timber tongue and groove cladding. Depth may be created through the layering of paint to build up a texture.
Playing with depth is highly effective when you are looking to enhance the aesthetics of the architecture or where the surrounding surfaces are relatively flat.
7. Highlight through lighting
Make the most of your feature wall by lighting it correctly so it can be enjoyed during the day and at night. This is where a highly textural material comes into its own.
When considering lighting for your feature wall take into account how you wish it to be highlighted. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Do you want it up lit or a wash of light coming down?
- Is there a feature tree in front of the wall that should be the main focal?
- Do you need to incorporate functional light to create a safe walkway?
- Do you want the fixtures to be seen or out of sight?
- Will a cool or warm light suit your material best?
For more inspiration and advice about feature walls, visit our Learning Library.