Stuart Burns, Director at Dura Composites, looks at the benefits of composite over timber when it comes to cladding.

Timber composite cladding still represents a tiny segment of the overall cladding market, and UK suppliers are few and far between, but it seems key decision makers are finally realising its’ true value.

One of the main points to note for the eco-minded is that a quality timber composite product like Dura Cladding can be just as green as wood, if not more.

A report from CERAM UK confirmed that the product meets the highest sustainability specifications. It is made of 87% recycled materials, and recently Dura became the first timber composite supplier to become FSC ® 100% certified.

Whereas traditional wood planks require regular painting or staining to preserve their natural beauty and protect them, UV inhibitors can be added to a quality timber composite at the point of manufacture to protect against the elements. Therefore,the only maintenance required would be cleaning, just like any other outdoor product.

It was the colour stability that attracted Darin Shaikly, Managing Director of Lanswood Ltd, when he was deciding on materials for the Lanswoodpark development near Colchester.

“We were originally planning to use natural wood cladding, but once we became aware that Dura Cladding suffers only minor initial weathering fade and then retains its colour in the long term does, it was the obvious choice. With various stages of the business park being built over several years, it was important that the façades did look different to one another due to different fade rates.

Long term colour stability was also a big factor in the decision to specify the same product at Edgbaston Priory Club – one of the country’s most prestigious private leisure clubs.

Specifying a light grey flush, the club can be confident that long term fade will not be a problem and that its specific colour choice will stay consistent for many years to come after the initial weathering period.

Another thing to remember when choosing a supplier is that the best ones offer warranties of up to 25 years – at least a decade longer than the life-cycle of the average hardwood alternative.

Quality timber composite cladding is further characterised by the fact that it won’t crack, shrink, warp or rot – a significant problem for some natural wood products.

The two main challenges aimed at timber composite cladding are that it doesn’t look as good as timber and that it can be more expensive.

The first point is very hard to challenge when based entirely on personal preference. However, the advancement in composite technology recently means that polyethylene-based products feature a high percentage of wood providing a very natural look. Beauty is in the eye of the be-holder!

As for the cost argument – this may be true to an extent when looking at initial cost outlay only, but over the life of the product it is often cheaper to use composite material because it lasts much longer and requires much less maintenance – just cleaning. In fact Dura Composites commissioned an independent to better understand this and the report determined its composite materials were significantly cheaper than either softwood or hardwood over a 25 years period.

http://www.duracomposites.com/cladding