Timber Cladding - The Ultimate Guide

Timber Cladding - The Ultimate Guide

Published on Friday, July 28, 2017

 

Here at Duffield Timber, we have over 60 years’ experience when it comes to timber. As well as understanding our customers’ needs, we know each species inside out. Whether an experienced woodworker or homeowner redesigning their outdoor space, our expert knowledge will help you choose the right product for any project. 

When it comes to cladding, we have a range of timber to help transform a building. However, there are plenty of questions to ask yourself along the way to ensure you choose the right species for your project. Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about cladding in our easy-to-digest Ultimate Guide.

What is cladding?

An introductory section explaining what exterior cladding is and how it could enhance the home. 

Exterior  wood  cladding  is  a  widely  used  finish  for  buildings. Though there are other alternatives available, the traditional wooden aesthetics  has  made wooden cladding one  of  the  most  popular  options. Iconic buildings such as Knarvik Church use timber cladding to make an incredible aesthetic impact. Homeowners are ever-increasingly choosing to add a flourish of luxury to their own home with timber cladding. 

 

The Knarvik Community Church. Knarvik, Norway. Credit: B Ystebo.

Aside from the obvious aesthetic benefit, wood cladding is also an eco-friendly material when sources responsibly. If it is properly maintained, wood cladding can last in excess of 30 years, meaning it’s a cost-effective and sustainable option for both homeowners and those working on a large-scale project. 

Why choose timber cladding?

The broad range of benefits bestowed by timber cladding certainly put it at the top of the tree, in our opinion. Not only does it look aesthetically brilliant, but its wooden aesthetic allows buildings to blend seamlessly into natural surroundings.

When responsibly sourced, timber cladding is also the most eco-friendly option out there. At Duffield, we work with FSC ® and PEFC suppliers and vendors to ensure our high standards are met when it comes to environmental consideration and minimising environmental impact. Timber is a renewable and sustainable material, so for every tree used to make cladding there is always the opportunity to plant new ones (and many, many organisations are committed to doing so). Plus, any leftovers can be reused or disposed of in an eco-friendly way - seldom so easily the case for other building materials. 

As timber is generally quicker, lighter and easier to install, it doesn’t take as much energy as other materials to process or transport - another eco-friendly aspect of timber. Don’t consider timber a feeble, weak choice, however - when properly maintained, wood cladding lasts for well over 30 years! 

Timber is also a great natural insulator, both in terms of thermal and sound insulation. 

Timber cladding is far easier to replace than other exterior finishing materials, so if you’re wanting a change in the future or need a cladding spruce - timber is guaranteed to be the least hassle. 

For those with a keen eye for design, it’s worth noting that wood cladding is highly customisable. It looks fantastic painted and, with various stains available, there are endless design opportunities for creative homeowners. Wood is easily repainted, too, so you can even change the colour of your build to your heart’s content. Moreover, unlike other materials, wood is one of the cheapest materials to customise since it doesn’t require any special equipment. 

So… 

  • Looks great
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Cost-effective
  • Totally customisable 

What’s the catch? There isn’t one! 

Cladding options

Cladding doesn’t come in a one-size-fits-all option. There are a range of profiles available to choose from, each with specific benefits and attributes that make them perfect for specific projects. However, understanding these profiles and how they can apply to different applications can be somewhat challenging.

We’ve identified three of the main options.

  • V-Groove Cladding

 

This is more commonly known as Tongue and Groove cladding. Considered the most popular type of cladding, V-Groove is very aesthetically neat. Much like shiplap (mentioned below), it has the ability to shield buildings from water, protecting against water damage. In harsher weather conditions, the interlocking joints act as an effective barrier and a good insulator too. 

The interlocking panels are also useful for creating strong, sturdy structures, so this is important to consider. 

  • Shiplap Profile

 

The main difference between Shiplap and V-Groove cladding is there’s a longer lip on Shiplap cladding, providing further protection against moisture and rainfall. The lip acts as a barrier to resist rainfall, but the groove also allows rainwater to run off the building. If an installation needs optimum rain resistance, Shiplap cladding is the profile that provides the best defence against water infiltration, minimising the risk of rot, swelling, damp and mould. 

One of the main differences between the two types of cladding is that V-Groove cladding has a higher chance of shrinking during warm weather. Luckily, V-Groove allows for some level of shrinkage to avoid gaps in the finished cladding.

  • Feather Edged Cladding 

 

Consider Feather Edged cladding if you want a secure and sturdy surface. Cut at an angle, it’s perfect for horizontal cladding for sheds or buildings. As the way it’s cut can allow for an overlap, it means there’s more control over how the finished result looks. 

Feather Edged cladding could, for some, be considered the low maintenance option. It requires less wood than other types of cladding to cover an area. In addition, it allows for water run-off, so it’s not particularly susceptible to water damage. Feather Edged is also considered easier than other types of cladding to repair; only one panel ever needs to be replaced (generally speaking!).

Feather Edged Cladding is also flexible in an aesthetic sense, too - the size of each panel and the angle at which it’s cut can create a range of different ‘looks’. This can make it quite a unique, bespoke choice!

Timber options 

At Duffield Timber, we sell an incredible range of timber species that make perfect wood cladding.

So, which option is best for your installation? 

Western Red Cedar 

Quick Qualities Summary:

  • Average Dried Weight – 370 kg/mᵌ. 
  • Grain – Straight grain, medium to coarse texture. 
  • Colour – Reddish to pinkish brown with darker red/brown streak. Varies in colour. 
  • Rot Resistance – Very durable regarding decay resistance. 
  • Workability – Excellent machining properties, takes both screws and nails well. 
  • Sourced from: Western Canada, delivered direct on a container. 

Cedar is a Softwood, so it is relatively soft and light in weight, with a density of around 370kg/mᵌ. Though it is a soft and lightweight species, Cedar is one of the most suitable timbers to use for exterior cladding as it is stable and not as prone to weathering. Due to this, it lasts a long time and is easy to maintain. 

It’s aesthetically a lovely timber species and has a variation of colours, from brown through to yellow or even pink (not forgetting, of course, that timber can also be painted according to preference!). It is naturally resistant to decay, however, so it’s unlikely to need treatment before being installed. Despite this, UV protection is always a good idea.  

As the stock is delivered to us in a ripped strip form, the boards have already been sawn to a specific thickness and width. We sort and “stick” the Cedar to length specification and the air-drying process begins on Duffield’s site. Once air dried, the Cedar is then machined to profile in our state-of-the-art machining mill. Due to its soft properties, Western Red Cedar takes to machining very well, and it both screws and nails with good results - but can also be glued. 

Siberian Larch 

Quick Qualities Summary:

  • Average Dried Weight – 575 kg/mᵌ. 
  • Grain – Generally straight or spiralled. Texture is medium to fine. 
  • Colour – Yellow to a medium brownish colour. 
  • Rot Resistance – Moderately durable against rot. 
  • Workability – Good machining properties, takes both screws and nails well. 
  • Sourced from: Siberia, delivered to us on a curtain side vehicle. 

Siberian Larch is, like Cedar, a softwood. However, with a density of 575kg/mᵌ it’s a much heavier material than a lot of hardwoods. It’s even used as decking and flooring so it’s fair to say Siberian Larch is extremely versatile when it comes to purpose. It has good overall results with nailing and screwing, so it makes a great cladding material. 

Larch’s heartwood can range from a yellow to a medium reddish-brown in colour so, for a natural finish, this is a great timber to choose. 

Finger-Jointed European Oak 

Quick Qualities Summary:

  • Average Dried Weight – 720 kg/mᵌ. 
  • Grain – Straight, with a coarse, uneven texture. 
  • Colour – Yellowish/brown colour. 
  • Rot Resistance – Very durable regarding decay resistance. 
  • Workability – Good machining properties, takes both screws and nails well. 
  • Sourced from: France, delivered to us on a curtain sided wagon. 

European Oak is classed as a a hardwood, with a density of 720kg/mᵌ. A yellowish-brown colour, the grain of European Oak is generally straight though it does vary depending on its growth conditions. To add to its stunning look, try staining the Oak with one of a huge variety of options. 

When we receive the stock it has already been through the drying, machining and finger-jointing process all prior to delivery. Though it machines relatively well, nailing and screwing can be a bit more difficult - pre-drilling is advised. It’s also worth noting that Oak reacts with iron, so stainless steel nails or screws are your best bet (that, or oak glues). 

Thermowood 

Quick Qualities Summary:

  • Average Dried Weight – 450 kg/mᵌ. 
  • Grain – Generally straight or spiralled. Texture is medium to fine. 
  • Colour – A dark brown tone throughout. 
  • Rot Resistance – Moderately durable against rot. 
  • Workability – Good machining properties, takes both screws and nails well. 
  • Sourced from: the Baltic region, delivered to us on a curtain sided wagon.

Thermowood is a heat-treated pine, with a density of around 450kg/mᵌ, making it a softwood. It’s denser than Cedar but not as dense as Siberian Larch. However, as it’s thermally modified, the wood provides stability, less shrinkage, movement (swelling), cupping and distortion. It also takes well to both screws and nails. 

Once treated, Thermowood has a gorgeous dark brown tone throughout. 

Quick note: Though you can install new cladding all year round, the best period of time is between October and April to ensure the timber does not shrink or curl in warm weather. Therefore, consider planning for your new cladding during the summer months and begin to put plans in place in plenty of time to ensure you have choose the timber species that’s right for you. 

Treating your timber

So, you’ve chosen your profile and you know what timber species is the right match for your installation. Next up - how to treat your timber. 

Exterior cladding is nearly always at some point in the day exposed to direct sunlight. This will eventually discolour the cladding, turning it into a silvery or grey colour. To prevent this, a UV protective finish can be applied. 

  1. UV protectant: UV protectant can be applied via brush, cloth or spray. This type of protective treatment is beneficial as it will protect the timber cladding from sunlight damage, resulting in the timber preserving its colour for a much longer period of time. If the cladding is in an area of direct sunlight, we recommend recoating once every two years, but if it is in a shaded area - give it a slap of treatment every three years. Think of it like a sun-cream you need to apply every couple of years.
  2. Paint: Paint can also be applied to coat the timber. However, this process will hide the natural grain of the wood and replace it with a solid colour.
  3. Heat treatment: An alternative option is heat treatment. It helps the wood to become more weather durable and stable and doesn’t react differently to separate climates / temperature. It also prevents the wood from shrinking or expanding. 

The history of heat treatment is particularly interesting. When building defense fencing, Vikings discovered that wooden poles didn’t last as long as poles made from wood with a burnt surface. Though studies exploring thermal modification had been going on for many years, the Thermowood process wasn’t patented until the end of the 1990s.

This patented production of wood involves the controlled process of heating wood until its properties are changed permanently. See our section on Thermowood above for more information about this type of timber. 

What we offer

If you are ready to select your cladding and begin the installation process, why not visit our showroom in Melmerby (right next to the motorway, near Ripon)? We have large, high-quality stocks available across a range of timber species.

We machine timber on site here in the UK, and we ethically source our timber to ensure we have considered and acted upon our environmental responsibility. 

Our timber experts are always on hand to offer their knowledgeable insights - they might be timber genius’s but they’re incredibly friendly and always love to chat with other wood enthusiasts. 

Our showroom, which includes plenty of samples for viewing, is open to the public from Monday - Saturday (check our opening hours at the bottom of this page). 

Don’t forget we also have a brand new Cladding and Decking Centre - a must-visit for anyone considering installing new cladding. 

We don’t just stock timber cladding, we stock everything you need to complete the process: Cedar angle beads, nails, screws, shingles, ridges, solid colour stains and UV protective finishes. 

We look forward to seeing you at Duffield Timber soon! 


In the meantime, if you have any cladding questions, don’t hesitate to contact us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram - our team will be delighted to help.