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Composite Cladding Vs Timber Cladding

QTD understands that finding the right timber material for your project can be daunting. With a vast number of options out there from natural to composite, with varying pros and cons, it can be hard to know where to start. With 23 years of experience working with both timber and composite, we want to give you all the information to empower you to make an informed decision. So read on to discover why we suggest you should opt for natural timber materials over composite.

*The above project uses are ThermoWood Ash Hardwood Cladding

1. Timber products are 100% natural and the production process consists of just steam, pressure, and heat. It’s a completely ecological, natural process from start to finish.

2. Starting at the procurement stage of the raw materials through to the installation of the end product, ThermoWood timbers do not use any chemicals.

3. The bonding waters in the timbers’ cell structure are removed. Thus, the thermally-modified timber becomes dimensionally stable and durable for outdoor applications. Therefore becoming suitable for all weather conditions.

4. In principle, thermally modifying the timber enhances the durability and stability of less durable timber species. Making them suitable for use internally and externally no matter what the environment is. In turn, reducing the need to source timber from tropical forests around the world such as the Amazon region.

5. It is recyclable, harmless to all living species, and can be maintained and renewed with little to no additional cost.

6. Natural timbers are the perfect species for absorbing and locking in CO2 and are essential to the planet as a whole. Only managed plantation woodlands and forests are used for construction projects meaning no unlawful deforestation takes place.

7. It is an excellent product for accepting any kind of surface treatment due to its low moisture content, stability, and no resin/knot bleed.

8. The lighter weight of the material and structural advantages makes it easier to transport and install. In the case of cladding applications, the ThermoWood process provides up to 20% better sound and heat insulation.

9. An added bonus during the hot summer months is that you can still walk on thermally-modified timber with bare feet since the product absorbs heat and provides a lower surface temperature.

Wood Plastic Composites (WPC)

1. WPC products have increased and improved their market position in the last few years.

2. As a new product in the market, the results have not been clarified yet in terms of performance and the impact on nature. The product also occupies landfill sites when disposed of.

3. Although WPCs use the word ‘WOOD’ in its definition, the ratio of plastic in the product accounts for 60-90% of petroleum waste during the manufacturing process that this product goes through.

4. It is a common misconception that these products are stable. WPCs in fact expand and shrink along their length by 1-2mm to every meter.

5. Since WPCs aren’t a natural product, when the board gets damaged, scratched, or fades, it is not possible to restore the materials’ original colour, as you could with wood. Replacing this product would also result in a mismatching of the original and new colour. In this case, you are advised to order sufficient material for a project at the initial stage.

6. Due to the amount of plastic present in the product the surface temperature can be high during warm weather. Consequently, making it uncomfortable to walk on bare feet. The heat is reflected off the surface, creating a similar experience to walking on hot tarmac.

7. Many attempts are made at trying to replicate the grain and aesthetic look of timber, which of course is not entirely possible. Resulting in decking and cladding boards looking the same, with an unnatural appearance.

8. Any cladding or decking materials that have plastic/UPVC content will generally expand and contract with changing temperatures. This expansion changes the length of the board as well as the width. Pressure-treated softwood deck boards expand and contract just in width, hence always leaving a 5mm gap between the boards. This gap will also need to be applied at the ends of composite boards.

9. Capped composites are effectively a sleeve over a wood fibre/dust core. When you cut and install these boards you will be exposing this core which if not properly sealed, moisture will make its way into the board and eventually lead to the breakdown of the board.

10. Many WPCs contain non-recyclable materials, which means that the majority of WPC boards will end up in landfill sites at the end of their lives.

11. Manufacturing these products produces CO2 even if they are using recycled material. Whereas our natural timber materials absorb and store CO2 from the atmosphere.

12. Depending on how good the product is, some will crack and twist/warp if not properly secured.

What do our ThermoWoods provide that WPCs don't?

· Our ThermoWood is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified. Which verifies that our timber originates from well-managed, sustainable forests. This standard eliminates illegal logging and deforestation in tropical regions.

· All external timbers are either preservative-treated with an environmentally safe solution, are naturally durable, or are thermally treated. In the case of thermal modification (ThermoWood) this is carried out using steam and heat generated by using waste wood in a furnace alongside gas.

We hope you have been able to gather some useful information from this blog. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your project with us please feel free to get in contact with us.

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