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How to Install Composite Cladding: Tips & Advice

19 June 2024
House with external cladding House with external cladding

 

Upgrading your home with composite cladding is a smart choice. Not only will you benefit from the protection cladding offers, but you can completely transform the look of your home without too much effort. 


Eurocell’s range of coastline composite cladding is straightforward to install because of its clip-together fitting system. However, it needs to be fitted correctly so you get optimal benefits and don’t invalidate the warranty, which is up to 25 years. 


Different manufacturers will have specific guidance for installation, so always refer to the instruction manual provided by your manufacturer range when installing. 


The composite cladding installation guide and advice below is based on our Coastline range.  


You can download the installation manuals for horizontal and vertical coastline cladding here: 

Before fitting composite cladding  

Before you start installing composite cladding, there are a few key things you need to consider.  


Firstly, your home has to have a maximum height of 11m and the cladding must be installed at least 1m away from boundaries to meet building regulations. You can also fix it to stand alone garden rooms or outbuildings. 


You typically won’t need planning permission to install cladding as it's covered by Permitted Development Rights. However, planning permission for cladding may be needed if you’re home falls into one of the following categories: 

  • Listed building
  • Conservation area
  • National park
  • Area of outstanding natural beauty 
  • Norfolk or Suffolk Broads

If you are unsure if any of the above apply, it’s always best to check with your local council so you’re not wasting your time, effort and money. Check out our cladding planning permission guide for more information. 


Before installing composite cladding, decide on the style and design – do you want horizontal or vertical, and would you like it to cover all or part of your home? Have a look online for some ideas and inspiration, or simply browse our Complete Guide to House Cladding.


Composite cladding is designed to be easy to install, so you can do it yourself. But you need to make sure that you follow the instructions carefully so that it looks its best and offers total weather protection. Unless you feel completely confident, it’s worth getting a professional tradesperson who has the experience and know-how to fit it correctly. 

Handling and storage  

Because composite cladding is incredibly lightweight, it’s easy to handle and install – especially compared to fibre cement or brick cladding. The colour is consistent through the boards because acrylic colourants are mixed in during manufacture, so even if it does chip or scratch, you won’t typically notice it. However, it’s still essential to handle the product with care. 


When storing the composite cladding boards, you should keep them indoors, away from direct sunlight and covered with a sheet. Make sure the area where they are kept is free from any debris or construction, so they don’t get scratched or damaged. Try to store them flat and don’t stack the boards higher than three metres. 


When lifting the boards, don’t drag or slide them over each other which can damage and bend the boards. Instead hold the edges vertically when carrying the boards and get some help if you need it. 

Tools for the job 

One of the many benefits of composite cladding is that you don’t need lots of tools or machinery to complete the job. Here’s what you will need: 

 

  • Hand drill with countersink drill bits
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk line
  • Jig saw
  • Circular saw
  • Spirit level
  • Carpentry saw

It’s also best to use personal protective equipment (PPE) like a mask, safety goggles, protective shoes, and to wear long sleeves and trousers for extra protection. 


Along with tools, you will also need the right accessories for your cladding boards, like trims and closers, to hide any edges and ensure the boards are aligned to get the best finish. Here are the components needed for horizontal cladding: 

  • Starter bar
  • Head trim
  • End closers
  • Window reveal corner
  • Window head trim and window head trim end closer
  • Window reveal trim
  • External and internal 90 degree corner
  • External and internal 90 corner end closer
  • Butt joint trim
  • Dormer roof end closer
  • 25mm stainless steel screws
  • Silicone sealants 

How to Install Composite Cladding  


Before installing your composite cladding, make sure that you account for any doors and windows because you might have to shape around or cut the boards to fit them. Your tape measure should also be your best friend – make sure everything lines up accurately so you get the best results. 


You can follow our horizontal coastline cladding guide or vertical for more detailed installation instructions. 

 

Step 1: The subframe

 
Timber battens are installed as a subframe into your exterior wall, so that the cladding can easily be fixed to it. The timber should be a depth of 35mm to ensure there is distance between the cladding and wall for ventilation. 


Start by screwing the timber battens to your wall using your stainless steel screws. They should be positioned vertically, 175mm distance from the bottom of the brickwork and spaced a maximum of 500mm apart. If you have a window, screw a small piece of timber batten to allow the head trim to be fixed into it. 


Note: Double check the measurements because accurate installation of the subframe is essential. 


Step 2: Window trims


Next, fix your window reveal and head trims to the timber batten. This is done before installing the cladding boards for greater accuracy. 


Take a cladding board and cut it down to the window size. Screw the window reveal trim with the board in position and then put the corner into place and fix into the timber batten.


Step 3: Starter bar  


Take your starter bar and fix it to the bottom of the timber batten using the 25mm stainless steel screws. You will also need to fix the internal and external corner trims, head trim and end closer using the screws. 


Follow the installation guide for more information. 

Step 4: Fitting your composite cladding boards


You can now position the first cladding board onto the starter bar and fix it at the top using the 25mm stainless steel nails. 


After the first board is in position, you can take the second board and hook it over the top lid fixing it to the timber battens. This will hide the fixings, and you can continue this method until all the boards have been installed.  

Step 5: Dormer roof side  


Fix timber battens to the dormer side which should be at least 25mm up from the pitched roof. Next, fix the dormer starter bar to the bottom of the battens. If needed, you can now fit the ventilated head trim, starter bar, end closer or corner trim. 


You can also secure all of the panels.  

Step 6: Final checks


After installing your composite cladding, you should check over it to make sure that it has been installed correctly. 


Double check that there is 4/5 mm at each end of the board to allow for expansion and contraction, and there is adequate space behind the cladding for ventilation. There should be nothing placed in this gap. 


Take a step back and look at the boards – are they all in line and neat? Are the windows watertight and the trimming installed correctly? 


Composite cladding aftercare 

Once your cladding has been installed correctly, you can sit back and relax because there’s not a lot else to do. Composite cladding is very low maintenance, especially compared to timber cladding which needs painting, sealing and staining to maintain its appearance. 


Every three to six months, you can wash your composite cladding with a household washing up liquid and water to get rid of any rain marks or stains from debris. Harsh chemicals like bleach should not be used when cleaning your composite cladding, neither should a power washer. Because it’s easy to clean, any stains typically come off with a little bit of elbow grease. 


If you’re thinking of installing external cladding, check out Eurocell’s range which is guaranteed for up to 25 years. 

 

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