Aluminium Cladding vs Composite Cladding – What is the Difference?


When it comes to cladding products there are many options available in the Australian building market today. Whether it is for a home renovation or a larger commercial project, it is important to make sure you are aware of the differences between these products and what is going to offer the best and safest solution for your project or home.

Aluminium Cladding

Exterior aluminium cladding is a great alternative to traditional cladding options such as timber or weatherboard. Aluminium’s strength and durability means it is the perfect material for external building projects, yet it’s light weight makes installation a breeze.

True solid aluminium cladding is made of solid extruded aluminium and does not feature any composite or mineral core that can put other composite cladding products at a higher risk of combustibility. Aluminium itself has a melting temperature of 660 degrees Celsius and will not ignite, and its powder coated finish will only char when exposed to a heat source. This makes solid aluminium a safe option for external cladding, especially in high-risk fire areas.

When selecting aluminium cladding, it is critical to ensure it complies with Australia’s national building safety codes. Beware of any non-compliant foreign and imported products and opt for an Australian-owned and made product, such as Deco’s range of DecoClad cladding products which meet Australian Standards AS1530.3 – a building safety combustibility and fire examination.

Choosing aluminium cladding does not mean compromising on look and style.  Products such as DecoClad offer decorative and durable woodgrain finishes that add natural style to any building project. Aluminium is also easily recyclable material, which means you can be confident you are using a sustainable material on your project.

Find out more about How to Choose a Non-Combustible Cladding Product.

Composite Cladding

When looking at composite cladding options – also known as aluminium composite panels or cladding – it is imperative to ensure they are Australian standards compliant. You’ll find a range of composite cladding products available, the two main options being aluminium-polyethylene composite panels and wood-plastic composite materials.

Aluminium composite cladding panels feature a composite core (often made of polyethylene, a highly combustible and flammable construction material) between two thin layers of aluminium. This composite cladding option offers a cheap alternative, however recent disasters such as the Grenfell Tower fire in London in 2017 means this type of product is no longer deemed safe for large building products due to its high level of combustibility. In fact, a recent Senate Inquiry into combustible building materials recommended banning the products from the Australian market.

Composite wood or wood-plastic composite cladding are generally made of wood fibre or wood flour and thermoplastics such as polyethylene, polypropylene or polyvinyl chloride. They may also contain other adhesives or other ligno-cellulosic and/or inorganic filler materials. Many wood composite cladding products offer a fire retardant thermoplastic core, which can be up to 70% non-combustible material, however many do still contain a small amount of the highly-flammable polyethylene.

Choosing the Right Cladding Product for your Project

When choosing cladding for your project, it is important to ensure you review a range of factors - durability, strength, safety, combustibility, sustainability, design and maintenance. Call the DecoClad team to discuss your cladding product and find out more about our range of wood-look aluminium cladding range.

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