How to Repair Composite Cladding?
Composite cladding is a fantastic product that has taken the industry by storm, especially in the last couple of decades. A highly innovative creation, it is durable, economical, and comes in a wide range of eye-catching styles, meaning there is a line of cladding for just about anyone.
However, like any other material, composite cladding doesn’t last forever. While composite cladding is resilient with a lengthy lifespan, you may notice, well before the expected expiration date of the material, that its surface is starting to look scuffed and scratched.
So, what can be done about it? In this guide, we’ll be looking at some of the most common composite cladding problems and the repairs that can fix them. We will also answer some of the most commonly asked questions, including whether or not you’ll require professional assistance to help solve your issue.
- What is Composite Cladding?
- What Happens if I Don’t Repair Composite Cladding?
- Do I Need an Expert to Repair My Composite Cladding?
- What Types of Cladding Damage Could I Encounter?
- How Do I Repair My Composite Cladding?
- How Do I Avoid Damage to My Composite Cladding in the Future?
Composite cladding is an excellent material found on and around various structures. It has been primarily designed to replace traditional timber cladding that was once common on the exteriors of extensions, upper floors, garden office walls and more. Whilst this was heavy, expensive, and more challenging to maintain composite cladding is light in weight, highly affordable, and requires far less looking after.
However, that is not to say that it requires no maintenance whatsoever, as lack of care is what leads to the cladding requiring repair in the first place. Cladding is also extremely customisable, coming in a range of colours and designs.
Composite cladding is primarily utilised for visual impact. Even so, if it isn’t repaired, is the only thing you’re missing out on that eye-catching appearance? In truth, damaged cladding can often lead to additional problems, which can lead to damage to the rest of your building.
If cladding is scratched, those exposed lower surfaces may prove far more vulnerable to rot and mould growth, especially in wet and cold weather. Meanwhile, cracks can allow leaks and dampness to seep through the cladding and damage whatever is behind it.
Finally, because one of the main draws of cladding is the look, it’s a shame to let that element become lost to unsightly build-up of dirt and the worsening of the physical condition of your cladding. This is why it’s best to get your cladding repaired as quickly as possible.
It's unlikely you’ll require expert help repairing your composite cladding. With traditional timber, some opt to hire professionals to restore or repair their wood cladding. However, one of the main draws of composite cladding is that its lower cost, lighter weight, and more intuitive installation make for a product that can be much more easily replaced.
However, replacing may well be the more expensive option, though there are, of course, situations where such a move is unnecessary. Only when you need to replace rather than repair your cladding may the prospect of professional assistance come into play, and even then, only more complicated structures should require expert help.
However, if you’re new to DIY any task can be intimidating, so don’t hesitate to at least approach an expert – or even the manufacturer of your product – for advice if you’re unsure of what to do.
When it comes to the types of cladding damage you may encounter, it’s best to first get to know the two main types of cladding you will come across:
Uncapped materials usually refer to older examples of composite cladding. They are not quite as durable as the newer capped alternatives, and examples of the product are harder to find on today's market. However, due to the long lifespan of cladding, there are still hundreds of thousands of examples of uncapped cladding and decking up and down the country. Uncapped cladding is also more susceptible to mildew, mould, dampness, and staining.
Capped materials are newer products and boast far superior resilience and longevity. It is this generation of products that made composite decking and cladding so popular, and they continue to see widespread use. While nowhere near as vulnerable to various examples of wear and tear as their predecessor, they can nevertheless become increasingly susceptible to increased wear after sustaining some damage, meaning it is still important to repair them as soon as problems are spotted.
There are several different types of potential cladding damage that both uncapped and capped surfaces may encounter, but the most common are light scuffs, deeper scratches, and more major abrasions. Many of these problems can be solved fairly quickly and easily with just a few simple steps and tools, but some major damage will most likely mean the cladding requires replacement.
BEFORE YOU START: Remember that these techniques do have the potential to damage your boards further if not carried out properly. To be safe, we recommend testing out these procedures on a separate, spare length of cladding.
Small Marks, Scuffs, and Scratches
Thanks to the resilience of most composite cladding boards, repairing smaller marks is relatively straightforward, but the process differs depending on whether you have capped or uncapped boards:
- Uncapped Boards – use a tool such as a steel scourer to scrub over the marked area ensuring to brush in the direction of the wood grain down the length of the board. Alternatively, you can use scouring pads but be prepared to scrub harder and more consistently.
- Capped Boards – With the exterior plastic coating found on capped composite materials (hence their name and their protection from fading), you will need to avoid scouring to protect this layer. Instead, use sandpaper (around 60-80 grit) to lightly brush over the damage – be sure to do so in the direction of the grain, down the length of the board.
Deeper Marks and Scratches
- Uncapped Boards – for slightly deeper marks and scratches on your uncapped boards, you can utilise a similar strategy to tackling smaller marks on capped examples – use 60-80 grit sandpaper to brush over the mark, moving in the direction of the grain down the length of the board. Towards the end, you may also find it useful to apply a scourer to finish.
- Capped Boards – as long as the deeper scratch does not fully penetrate the outer board capping, you can use a heat gun with a heat setting of around 450°C. Make sure that you pass over the area lightly, with the gun nozzle around 10-15cm away from the board surface. Be careful not to get closer so you don’t overheat the board.
- Uncapped Boards – A heat gun can be used here in much the same way as with a capped board in the above example. Set the gun to 450°C and lightly pass over the area with the nozzle 10-15cm away from the surface. Sand the damaged area afterwards with 60-80 grit sandpaper if required.
- Capped Boards – If you have severe scratching on your capped board, it is highly likely your board has been permanently damaged and will need to be replaced with a new length.
Even though some cladding repairs are fairly simple, it's better not to have to carry out any repairs at all. So, what can be done to prevent repairs in the future? One thing you can start doing is regular inspection of your cladding to ensure there are no warning signs of problems such as dirt ingress or mould growth.
You can also start regular maintenance with suitable cleaners, from specially made formulations to soapy water and/or a hosepipe and cloth. Ensuring no dirt and debris are allowed to settle is a great way to prevent mould growth. Also, make sure there are no surrounding potential causes of impacts against your cladding. Footballs against the walls, adventurous pets, and growing plants are all potential causes that should be watched out for.
Have More Questions About Composite Cladding?
It’s never easy dealing with most repairs on your property – hopefully, this guide has given you some helpful hints and tips to aid you in returning your cladding to its former glory. Thankfully, even if it comes down to replacing your cladding, the process couldn't be simpler.
Whatever the case, if you have any more questions about cladding, do not hesitate to get in touch with our award-winning customer service team on 01295 565565 or via out chatbox below. They’ll do their best to help you work out any DIY-related problems you may be encountering or provide you with any advice about our many products, ranges, and offers.