Your Guide - Exterior Timber Cladding

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Exterior timber cladding can add individuality and bring your home right up to date, with so many different options available to suit different styles of home.

We look at the different options for exterior timber cladding to transform your home, as well as providing some inspiring timber cladding ideas.

If you are thinking about renovating in the near future and need some help finding an architect or designer, we can match you with the most suitable ones for your project.

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What are the different choices of timber cladding?

There are a range of types of timber that are popular choices when cladding the exterior of your home.

Larch

Larch is a softwood which is an extremely popular choice of timber cladding, it has a lovely golden tone that works well against white render. Left untreated it will turn silvery grey over time.

One of the main reasons it's popular is that it has a high density, with Siberian Larch being particularly strong. The density means it's less prone to scratching and denting and so will last for a long time. 

Another big benefit is that it is naturally anti fungal and therefore is resistant to rot and decay. It makes it a popular choice to leave untreated.

Stunning Larch cladding on the home of Insta account @twopigsonehouse

Larch is not quite as stable as some other softwoods such as cedar, however there are many products which are kiln dried which make it more stable.

The most popular variety is Siberian Larch which has small knots and works well for a contemporary look, it's also more durable than European varieties. European Larch is slightly more rustic in appearance with larger knots; for a more environmentally friendly choice, go for locally sourced Scottish Larch cladding.

It's one of the most economical timber cladding choices, so expect to pay from £15-20 per metre squared for European Larch which has been untreated, with Siberian Larch being slightly more expensive. You should expect to pay more for fewer knots and a higher quality of Larch.

Beautiful Larch cladding in the home of Insta account @interiors_fangirl

Western Red Cedar 

Another very popular choice is Western Red Cedar cladding, which is another kind of softwood. In its natural form it has a reddish tone, which looks wonderful on contemporary homes.

Western Red Cedar is durable and naturally rot resistant, so will not rot or decay over time. It's also a thermal timber which means it works well in both hot and cold climates and less susceptible to warping. 

Another reason for its popularity is it's a naturally very stable cladding, so it stays very straight when it's laid. This makes it a popular choice for narrower battens or when they are placed at an angle.

Beautiful cedar cladding in the home of Insta account @willow_grove_home

It is a lower density wood than oak or larch, so is more susceptible to knocks and dents and so you should be careful if placed in areas of high exposure.

The most popular variety is Canadian, which has been popular due to its durability, its rich tones and the fact it has fewer knots in the appearance and an overall smoother finish. 

Also available are the European and British varieties which are growing in popularity. Although slightly less durable than Canadian Cedar, and therefore should be pre-treated before installation, they are cheaper and a more environmentally friendly option given it has fewer miles to travel.  

Expect to pay from around £20 per metre squared with a higher grade Canadian variety costing around £45 - £60 per metre squared.

Siberian Larch Cladding on an extension by Granit Architects

Oak

Unlike the other woods which are softwoods, oak is a hardwood which makes it highly dense, making it less prone to scraping and scratching. 

Oak is also extremely durable which means it has excellent anti-fungal properties and as such, doesn't need to be pre-treated.

In its natural state is a golden / brownish tone, although the tone will vary depending on the origin of a particular oak.

As oak is a premium product, it will cost far more than the soft woods, which makes it less popular exterior cladding choice. Expect to pay from £20-£25 per metre squared for an untreated oak, and around £45 per square metre for an air dried oak cladding.

Oak cladding also requires pre-drilling before being attached to the exterior, which will add to the labour costs.

Modified Timbers

Modified timbers are a popular choice for cladding, where softwoods have been thermally or chemically treated to make them extremely resistant to warping. The result is a product which is extremely durable and comparable to a hardwood product.

Accoya™ is a great choice if you have a larger budget as it's guaranteed against rot for 50 years, due to the nature of the manufacturing process. Expect to pay from £40 per metre squared for untreated Accoya and around £65 for a pre-treated variety.

Blackened Timbers

Another popular choice by design lead Architects is a blackened timber such as Shou Sugi ban cladding timber, a Japanese technique where the timber is charred to create a deep and dramatic black look. 

Not only does it have a distinct aesthetic look, but the process makes it highly durable which makes it resistant to rotting and UV effects.

Shou Sugi Ban cladding is at the more expensive end of the scale starting at around £120 per metre squared, however it will require less maintenance over the years.

Charred timber cladding on an extension by George & James Architects

Fibre cement

Although not a natural timber, fibre cement cladding is a good option if you would like the look of wood but don't want the maintenance.

Fibre cement cladding comes in a large range of colours and finishes. If you want a crisp New England look, then the cladding is beautiful in white, grey or cream. 

The benefits of fibre cement cladding is that it won't warp, rot or fade but has the look of timber cladding.

Expect to pay from £25 per metre squared for cladding from brands such as Cedral Cladding. If you would like to find out more about fibre cement cladding, then read our Expert Advice - Cedral Cladding.

Maintenance free Cedral Cladding


How does my cladding achieve a weathered look?

All timber cladding will weather naturally and turn a greyish / silver tone over time if left untreated. This is the preferred choice if you want a natural and more rustic look.

The speed at which your timber cladding will weather depends on the elements that it is exposed to, the style of building and the cladding itself. 

Timber cladding in locations which are exposed to high rainfall as well as sunshine may start to weather after several months, whereas other locations may take several years.

You can also choose to have your timber cladding factory coated which will mean your cladding will weather rapidly at an even rate. If left untreated, it will ultimately end up with the same weathered appearance but some areas will be quicker to weather than others.

Weathered cladding in an extension by Model Projects


How do I keep the original colour of my timber cladding?

If you like the look of wood and you want it to remain in its original shade, then you will have to treat it regularly to provide UV protection. To keep it looking like new, ideally the timber will be treated every 2 years, potentially sooner depending on your location.

Many renovators choose initially to get a factory coating, either in a clear or coloured finish. After this, in order to maintain the original colour you will need to regularly treat the cladding to provide effective UV protection. Products such as Osmo Clear Oil is a popular choices. 

You can also get a factory coated cladding from some timber specialists, either in a colour or clear finish. This will require maintenance but the initial application may last longer.

 

How regularly do I need to treat the timber cladding?

Treatment provides protection against rot and fungal decay. 

Some types of timber cladding, such as Oak, Siberian Larch and Canadian Western Red Cedar are naturally highly durable and therefore don't necessarily require pre-treatment. Other types of cladding will require an initial treatment, even if you want to achieve the weathered look. 

How often you need to treat cladding is dependent on the type and quality of timber. The type of treatment will then dictate the colour; a treatment with UV protection and pigmentation will help maintain the original colour of the wood. Whereas other treatments will stop only the rot and decay, rather than prevent natural weathering.


What style options are available for timber cladding?

We are so used to seeing horizontal timber cladding, which has long been popular and always looks smart.

More and more homeowners are choosing a vertical lay with narrower battens, which creates a contemporary look. A combination of vertical and horizontal lay also looks really modern and adds interest.

Completely unique is a diagonal lay, which will give your home an original look. We have seen this on some 1970s properties which works so well with that era, retaining some of the charm of the original building.

For a rustic finish, go for a wide plank with a feather edge which looks great for a traditional look. If you would rather something more contemporary, narrow battens with a tongue and groove style will look really smart.

Diagonal lay timber cladding on extension by nimtim Architects


Sustainability

Timber cladding has long been a popular choice due to its sustainability, non-toxic properties (if left in its natural state) and that it provides effective carbon storage.

For all types of timber that you are purchasing, you should check that it is FSC certified, which guarantees the responsible management of the forest from where the timber is sourced.


Anything else I should consider?

Like so many other purchases, the cheapest option might not be the best. A pre-treated timber which is high quality will require less maintenance and will last longer, costing you far less in the long run.


If you are thinking about renovating in the near future and need some help finding an architect or designer, we can match you with the most suitable ones for your project.

Find an architect or designer

Published: June 29, 2021


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