Why Timber Cladding?
Timber may be the ultimate sustainable building material, but there need to be more reasons to explain its popularity as an external skin for buildings throughout history. Today the main reasons are:
- It looks fantastic
- It has good thermal insulation
- It is one of the cheapest external wall options
- It requires minimal skill to install
- It needs no maintenance
Cladding to Suit Your Building
Whether cladding runs horizontally or vertically, and the width of the boards, make a huge difference to the look of a building. Vertical cladding will emphasise the height of a building, wider boards reduce the apparent size of a big blank wall. If there are lots of windows and doors, leaving small patches of cladding, it might be better to reduce the board width to make it look less "bitty". Try sketching some lines on elevation drawings of your building and see how it looks.
Oak will last a lifetime, in fact lifetimes. It has a lovely mellow colour and a real sense of solidity. However green oak has relatively high shrinkage on drying, and the grain is not that straight. Although to a great extent it is held true by the fixings as it dries, there will be a slight waviness to the edges after drying that makes it less suitable for crisp, modern styles and is usually used as sawn boards. However this gives it great character. It is possible to use seasoned oak for cladding, but it is a very expensive option.
Western red cedar is very stable and durable, suitable for all sorts of profiles. Our home grown Western red cedar is very consistent warm honey colour. Knots are small (<20mm diameter) and never fall out. Green (unseasoned) cedar will shrink slightly in its length. Where it is used horizontally on wide walls with joins between boards, unsightly gaps can form at the board ends (up 10 mm at worst). For this type of application seasoned cedar is recommended. We season cedar suitable to machine 20mm x 145mm boards. Limited stock.
We can supply any size in green cedar. It is most suitable for any application where it will be used in single lengths, where shrinkage in the length does not matter. This is most often the case with vertical cladding, but can also apply to horizontal cladding arranged in panels.
Larch is more orangey in colour. The grain is a bit coarser than cedar, and it will have some dead knots (<35mm diameter).
We can cut any profile in any species, but a low movement timber like cedar is best for precise crisp profiles. High movement wood like green oak is best with simple overlapped boards.
Treatment & Maintenance
None required! All these timbers will weather to silvery grey with time. The time taken is dependent mainly on the amount of UV light that the boards receive, and to a lesser extent the amount of exposure to rain. A south facing wall may weather in one year, a north facing one three years.
I have been asked so often that I have to say this: there is no way to keep that fresh timber look. There are clear products which will slow down the fading effect, but you are unlikely to avoid fading on a south facing wall for more than a few years. Pigmented stains and finishes shield the wood from UV light much better, but you have got to like the colour!
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