Dura Composites Ltd

by Jennifer Hamlin

Stuart Burns, Director at Dura Composites, looks at a real life case study where composite timber cladding has been used to renovate the look of an older office and factory building.

Eco-friendly Dura Cladding is the main feature at Lanswoodpark in Colchester. (Type 150 Flush Cedar)
Dura Cladding will retain a large chunk of its original colour throughout its long life expectancy at the new Severn Trent offices in Shrewsbury. (Type 150 Flush Charcoal)

Deciding on a look for a new build or renovation can be a seriously stressful experience for the end client, whether they be a self builder or a multi-national organisation. Many wrestle with the dilemma of using modern materials for a sleek and fresh look or the use traditional materials such as wood. Whilst natural wood cladding represents a sizeable chunk of the wall cladding and façade market place, it is an area that must be fully understood if you are to achieve the look you want for a long period of time. That is because most timber cladding will fade significantly and begin to rot over time unless it is treated with the appropriate paint or stain at regular intervals.

An alternative to using natural timber comes in the form of a fast growing new product made using timber composites. That is where natural timber is used within a composite mix to create a material that is more suited to battling the elements over an extended life cycle in all weather conditions. Dura Cladding is one such product on the market where selected recycled wood and recycled high density polyethylene is used to create a cladding range that offer the natural appearance of wooden cladding but without the hassle or expense of periodic maintenance to preserve the wood.

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

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 Dura Cladding meets the highest sustainability specifications. It is made of 87% recycled materials, and was 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.

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.

To illustrate how Dura Cladding can be used both traditionally and also in a more contemporary format, the Dura premises were recently fitted with the recently launched 150/21 Weatherboard product in Barn Black for the main factory and 200/21 Flush in Pale Grey for the more contemporary office building at the front of the premises. The series of photos taken during the installation help illustrate not only how relatively simple the material is to install for professionals, but also how much of a transformation can be accomplished across a large area with a relatively small outlay. Most visitors to the premises do not believe that natural wood has not be used to create a such a traditional barn look, and are excited about the prospect of having little maintenance to do and are attracted by the fact that according to accelerated UV test results, the material will retain the vast proportion of its colour throughout its 25 year design life.

Aesthetics are always subjective and can be a highly emotive subject for the façade of a building. What is not subjective though is life cycle costs. Due to the lack of maintenance required, and the long design life, although composite cladding purchase costs may be higher than some natural wood cladding, it can actually work out significantly cheaper when life cycle costs are considered. Being 87% recycled and available as FSC © 100% the green aspect is thoroughly covered as well.

Figure 1: 1960's brick facade awaits transformation
Figure 2: Battening and first cladding panels
Figure 3: Cladding goes up starting from centre
Figure 4: Trims and finishing touches
Figure 5: Vertical cladding starts on office building
Figure 6: External and window trims in position
Figure 7: Weatherboard cladding on side wall begins
Figure 8: Vertical trims and guttering in place
Figure 9: The transformation is complete

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