If you are new to composite materials, you may not know the difference between decking and cladding. There are clear differences to spot between composite decking and cladding to avoid utilising the wrong product for your project, which will be costly and inconvenient. Throughout this article, we will answer the question: ‘What is the Difference Between Composite Decking and Cladding?’ to help give you a better understanding of the matter.

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Composite Cladding

Composite cladding is designed as an alternative to rendering and as a protective layer over your exterior walls or outdoor property. It usually comes in boards of all different lengths and has a shiplap connection, which connects the boards together seamlessly to provide a flush finish to your project.

Cladding is designed to be fitted vertically on walls and therefore is not created to be walked along, which is why it is not as strong as composite decking. Not only does composite cladding add functionality to your property through increased insulation and protection from the elements, but it will also add aesthetic value to your outdoor space. 


Composite cladding will, of course, be installed differently depending on which supplier you buy from; however, most are quite similar in installation and usually do not require a professional fitter for smaller projects. At Composite Warehouse, our composite cladding is designed to be installed from the bottom upwards.

Utilise starter clips for the first board by drilling your starter clip into a wooden or composite batten behind, then simply hook your first board into the clip. The rest of the boards can simply be drilled into the groove at the top of the board into the batten behind, as the board above will cover this groove, hiding the screw and providing a flush finish. 

Unlike composite decking, which cannot be drilled directly into due to this damaging its structural integrity, which is dangerous, composite cladding can be drilled into as it will not be used to withstand the same amount of weight.  

This is why it is important to find out the coverage dimensions of your cladding board, as well as the actual dimensions of your cladding board, as this will be the correct measurement you need to determine the accurate number of cladding boards you require to complete your project. The coverage dimension will not include the part of the board that will be hidden behind the board above. 

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Where Can I Install Composite Cladding?

Homeowners usually install composite cladding on the side of their homes onto exterior walls, but it can also be added to sheds, summer houses or even roofs. Our latest composite cladding product is our panelled cladding, which can technically even be installed inside if you wish to do so. 

The purpose of composite cladding is to protect the wall behind it. Composite material is created with added resistance against moisture and the elements, to extend its longevity for years to come. With an additional protected layer of cladding, your property will not be affected by the elements, meaning it will stand the test of time. Composite cladding comes in several different colours and surface finishes that can be chosen to provide the particular aesthetic you desire and match your existing surroundings. 

Composite Decking

Composite decking is, of course, used for patios and garden flooring, to elevate your garden’s appearance and ensure you can utilise your outdoor area all year round. Composite decking is created using the same materials as cladding: recycled wood and plastic fibres but is much stronger as it is, of course, created to withstand weight and pressure from footfall. 


The installation of composite decking is quite different from composite cladding and is quite a bit more complicated due to its need for a subframe. Composite decking requires being built on top of a subframe of joists, which is where the decking gains its strength.

When installing composite decking, you do not directly screw through the surface of the boards, as this can weaken the boards, which is dangerous. Utilising clips called hidden fasteners, which fit into the grooved channel running along the sides of the boards, you screw the clips into the joists below and slide the boards into place. The subframe is fitted into a grid-like formation. 

This is usually how you can tell the difference between composite cladding and decking physically, as cladding has a shiplap connection with grooves on the back of the board, whereas composite decking has grooves along the side of the board and is usually hollow with circular or square hollows in the structure of the boards. 

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