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Composite cladding is like other composite materials that expand when you expose them to fluctuating temperature. That is why when you are installing composite cladding boards, there is a minimum gap you should leave between the panels. 

What Is Expansion and Why Does Composite Cladding Expand?

Expansion is the movement, or to be more precise, the growth of material along its edges. When a  building material expands, it increases its size. Most building material like composite decking, fencing and cladding will expand if the condition for expansion is favourable. Even timber materials do expand.

 Composite cladding will increase in size or expand if there is a fluctuation in temperature. Fluctuation in temperature simply means temperature change. The surrounding temperature changes regularly. It can move from hot to cold in a day.

Also, it can change the other way round, that is from cold to hot. When the temperature that surrounds your cladding increases, the size of your cladding will also increase. 

This implies that hot temperature will make your composite cladding boards increase in size. When the weather moves from hot to cold, your composite cladding will reduce its size.

This expansion and contraction of composite cladding might not be noticeable if you live in a region that has a constant temperature. That is if you live in a humid area, the weather is always hot and your cladding will expand. 

But you might not notice that your cladding is expanding quickly. If you reside in a cold region, you will not see the contraction of your cladding.

But if you reside in an area that has fluctuating temperature where expansion and contraction occur daily, you will notice that your cladding is expanding. So, composite cladding expands because of a temperature change.

Composite Cladding Expansion Gap

The expansion and contraction of composite cladding pose a problem to homeowners and cladding makers. Homeowners have to deal with warping. What this implies is that when composite cladding boards or panels expand, they touch one another. If there is no space between the composite cladding boards, they will press one another till they warp.

 As if the warping is not enough, the composite cladding burst out of the fasteners that you use to hold it down. Makers of composite cladding will not want to lose their customers, so they have developed a way to contain expansion and contraction.

The only way you can take care of expansion and contraction of composite cladding is by leaving a gap between the composite cladding boards. 

This gap is what makers of composite cladding call expansion gap. So, if you want to follow best practice when installing your composite cladding, you should leave a space.

external wall cladding that expand with expansion gap

The minimum space or gap between the cladding boards should be 5 mm. Failure to leave a 5 mm space between your cladding panels will result in warping or shrinking of your composite cladding. 

Remember that you have to leave a gap between your composite cladding and any fixed object close to it. Leaving a gap is not the only thing you must do when you are installing composite cladding.  

Best Practice to Follow When Installing Composite Cladding

Put a Batten between the Wall and Your Cladding

A batten is a flat piece of timber that is like a plank. Homeowners put battens between their composite cladding panels and the exterior wall of their home. The essence of putting a batten is simple. Your composite cladding should not come in contact with the wall of your house.

 This is because the wall can contain moisture, and the cladding will trap the moisture. When your cladding traps moisture, it will absorb it, and moisture will reduce its durability. You can use treated wood or plastic wood boards for your battens.

Also, when fixing your battens, you should put them 400 mm apart. You should pre-drill your battens first so that setting it to the wall will be easy.

Always Use the Right Tools

When installing your composite cladding, you should ensure that you use the appropriate tools for the installation process. You will need a saw, spirit level, measuring tape, a maker, a glove and safety glass. Aside from having the tools, you should know how to use them. If you are not familiar with the tools, you can go through the manufacturer guide.

Conclusion

Does composite cladding expand? Composite cladding will expand when there is fluctuating temperature. To contain expansion, you have to leave a 5 mm expansion gap.

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