Wood Plastic Composite (WPC)
Yet in recent months, composite cladding has filled the news pages without meaningful understanding of its title. The general term fits many different types of composite cladding forms under its banner. It therefore seems timely to discuss wood composite cladding in detail and address how different it is from the composite cladding currently under scrutiny. We believe that it’s incredibly important for you to be aware of these differences.
As such, we present you with all the facts on wood composite cladding and we’ll highlight its many uses and benefits too.
So, what’s the difference? Ready for the acronyms? Brilliant, let’s explain.
The composite cladding currently under investigation is the Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) panel where two thin aluminium coated sheets are bonded to a PE or PU core. These panels are not only used as cladding or facades over large surface areas on buildings, but are also commonly used for retail and business signage.
Wood composite cladding, or wood plastic composite (WPC) cladding is a very different product. It has a different manufacturing process, has an extremely different aesthetic appeal and is used for a wide variety of smaller architectural, renovation and landscaping projects.
The compound of wood composite cladding differs from product to product, however our very own Ecoscape FORMA cladding is made from 95% ethically sourced recycled materials - 55% reclaimed wood fibres and 45% recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE). We source our wood from joiners’ stores, taking their off-cuts to create the first part of our compound.
The second material, high-density polyethylene has ‘a high strength-to-density ratio, and is used in the production of plastic bottles as an example. HDPE is commonly recycled.’ It is the recycled product that goes into our FORMA cladding panels. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-density_polyethylene
The final layer is a durable polymer outer shell that encapsulates the board. This forms the extremely important impermeable layer that protects the cladding from scratching, staining and fading.
How Is Wood Plastic Composite Decking Made?
We produce the FORMA Cladding by thoroughly mixing the recycled ground wood and HDPE. Other products on the market then finish the process in one single step with an immediate extrusion, however our product takes the two-step approach. ‘The constituents are combined and processed in a pelletizing extruder, which produces pellets of the new material. The pellets are then re-melted and formed into the final shape” Our method creates a beautiful, natural looking wood grain and an overall high quality cladding board. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood-plastic_composite
The Benefits Of Wood Composite Cladding
Now for the really useful bit. There are several benefits of wood composite cladding, especially in comparison to traditional timber. It has so many uses! All you have to do is head to Pinterest and you’ll soon find a mass of gorgeous design projects that have used wood composite cladding for their exterior designs, for both structures and landscapes. That’s because it can be used in plenty of different ways, replacing timber and all the maintenance that comes from using natural wood such as greying, splitting and rotting.
Take, for instance, the ever-so trendy garden room. Call it what you will – the garden room, posh shed, orangery, studio or garden office. Creating a new space within the garden is a massive trend right now. Ever heard of the man shed or the man cave? There is an actual association for it – Men’s Sheds Association. They describe the man shed as “a larger version of the typical man’s shed in the garden – a place where he feels at home and pursues practical interests with a high degree of autonomy.” Source: http://menssheds.org.uk/what-is-a-mens-shed/ And for the ladies, there are She Sheds. Yes, they are a thing too. BuzzFeed recently highlighted the trend with its 19 Dreamy She Sheds saying: ‘"She shed" is a kind of terrible name for a concept that's actually pretty cool: a female alternative to the "man cave," AKA a dedicated space where a gal can go to read, work on her hobbies, or just get five minutes of peace.” Source: https://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelwmiller/gorgeous-she-sheds-that-youll-want-to-retreat-to-asap?utm_term=.ugM3rXdOD5#.icLDLVmXwQ
Finally, there is the more practical, yet contemporary office garden, which is the perfect extra space where independent business owners can retreat for work with a very short commute across the garden (possibly still in their PJs).
Most people investing in a quality and permanent space are opting for a larger structure with a natural looking facade that suits the outdoor environment around it. “It is widely agreed that a quality garden office will add value to your house, research has suggested that a garden office building can add between 5 and 15% to the value of your property.” Source: https://www.gardenofficeguide.co.uk/add-value-to-your-house-with-a-garden-office/ It means that the aesthetics of the outbuilding is a major priority. Wood is a great choice for the natural shed look, but low maintenance is also a big priority for property owners these days. A great exterior cladding alternative is therefore wood plastic composite which has the natural look of wood, but that added protection from staining, scratching and fading.
Our FORMA cladding in Spiced Oak was recently used for a fabulous Garden Office space in London (pictured), creating the natural wood look. It looks fantastic amongst the trees.
Architects and home renovators are also using wood composite cladding for the more traditional exteriors from dormers and cladding on houses, to facades, apartments and porches. It is especially ideal for difficult to access areas as Ecoscape® Forma® composite cladding is a long lasting, low maintenance alternative to timber with a 25 year warranty. Just like one of our housing projects on Pinterest. The architect designed the building to include the Silver Birch FORMA Cladding and matching colour trims https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/314126142751974036/ that truly enhances the property. It delivers a superb contrast to the red brick to make a big design impact.
As the FORMA comes in seven cladding and trim colours, it is easy for designers to create that bold statement look normally reserved for a London style loft, especially when paired with a high impact rendered wall. Our FORMA cladding also compliments the decking range when used for fencing and screening, which helps to create a modern and minimalistic garden environment. The invisible tongue and groove capped cladding profiles utilise a hidden fixing system that really benefits the horizontal slat fence and screening designs. The biggest advantage is that once installed its effectively maintenance free - you will never have to stain, paint or oil it.
A Good Alternative To Timber Cladding
Timber cladding dates back as far as the stone ages, especially within forests were wood, of course, was easy to access. And it is still widely used today, more so as an extremely popular design feature. Real Homes Magazine describe it as, ‘Timber cladding can introduce a completely new character, sometimes used in blocks, breaking up a bland masonry façade and creating more depth, modelling and composition to an elevation. Such cladding is often used to great effect in upgrading old council houses.” Source: https://www.realhomesmagazine.co.uk/design/timber-clad-extensions-style-guide/
The Ecoscape UK FORMA range of wood composite cladding is designed to have a natural wood finish, or offers a bold painted statement with our colour options of Midnight, Industry or Argent. The flat surface finish allows you to add character to your home as Real Homes Magazine mentions above, but without the maintenance set backs of timber.
A Durable Alternative To Timber
The Independent stated 10 years ago that only ‘8% of the world’s remaining forest is currently protected from further destruction’. If you want to truly find sustainable sources of any wood, you must looks for the FSC certification symbol, avoid timber imported from Malaysia, Burma and the Brazilian Amazon due to their illegal practices and do not assume that bamboo is a sustainable option. Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/the-good-wood-guide-eco-friendly-options-for-furnishing-your-home-5333472.html
Western Red Cedar is the soft wood usually used to clad buildings. According to Designing Buildings, ‘This type of wood is relatively knot-free and has a natural resistance to decay and moisture. It can be readily stained or painted and altered to create a range of profiles.” Source: https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Timber_cladding However the same article from The Independent fears that the demand for western red cedar, especially from North America’s coastal rainforests is damaging the unique ecosystem and ‘threatening the habitats of grizzly, black and white spirit bears, some bird species and thousands of wild salmon runs.’
Wood composite cladding was specifically designed to offer an environmentally friendly alternative to the western red cedar softwood, due to its ethically sourced composite materials. The fact that is uses recycled materials, mainly wood off cuts and recycled plastics, makes it 95% ethically sourced. There is no ambiguity here.
Wood plastic composite was first used in the mid 90’s, and as time and technology has progressed, so has the quality of the product. Products such as the Ecoscape FORMA Cladding have evolved to provide several colour options, as well as a natural looking finish without the need to paint or maintain as is required of natural wood – even Western Red Cedar which is probably on the most durable woods. They have evolved to such a degree that FORMA’s unique polymer coating provides UV protection and is stain resistant, making it suitable to withstand all the elements.
Easy To Install Tongue And Groove
There are several different layering styles for timber cladding, from weather boarding, to ship lap installation, but one of the most popular is tongue and groove. The finished look provides a flat surface and is synonymous with contemporary house designs. FORMA Cladding creates this look with its easy installation system, invisible fixings and five different styles of composite cladding trims.
At Ecoscape UK, we supply to landscapers, builders and renovators, but can also advise designers and architects during the design phase of your cladding project to ensure that the final installation runs as smoothly as possible. The easy installation system will also help your build or renovation progress swiftly and efficiently.
So we think we’ve delivered a pretty strong argument for the many uses of Wood Composite Cladding!
FORMA cladding is a sure fire way to make a design statement on any property with the added assurance that you have installed a quality product. It is a product with low maintenance, no need to paint, stain or seal and a product that does not rot, warp, or splinter. And please don’t forget the added bonus of an extensive 25 year warranty. The complete range is natural looking without any of the drawbacks of timber, UV and stain resistant and is proudly sourced from 95% recycled materials. So yes, there are many benefits to wood composite, especially if you want to deliver a chic new look to your home, garden build or landscape – perfect to spruce up your property and set the neighbours curtains twitching!