Composite construction is a term used for ship or boat hulls made from several materials. There were therefore different construction methods that were summarized under this term:
The composite construction method was conceptually and consistently applied to ships made of iron and wood from about 1820 by R. Seppings in the United Kingdom . Previously, only individual elements of the supporting structure made of iron were used. The French shipbuilding industry in the second half of the 18th century was particularly encouraged to experiment here due to the lack of suitable woods. For example, the top knees of the French Invincible, built in 1744 , are iron constructions covered with wood in archaeological investigations of the wreck.
Hulls made of iron or later steel , which were planked with an outer skin made of wood, which represented a weight-saving construction method, for example when building clippers .
The keel, deck beams and frames were made of wood and clad with iron. This had advantages in terms of tightness and when used in areas with drillworms and the like.
Especially in the construction of vehicles for small coastal voyages, ship floors made of wood were still used for a long time in ships otherwise made of iron or steel. For these ships, which naturally often sat aground in tidal harbors, for example, this design was considered robust and comparatively easy to maintain.