Timber cladding can be a fantastic way to finish any commercial or residential build. Attractive, practical and contemporary, wood can help a design to settle into its surroundings and age gracefully.
The key to achieving a high-quality finish on your wood-clad building is specifying the right timber for the job. Different woods and profiles behave in different ways, so you’ll need to determine what suits your building better. To help you get the best possible results from your build, we’re taking a look at the most important things to consider when choosing wood cladding for your building.
For many architects and clients, the most important consideration when it comes to choosing timber cladding is aesthetic. The orientation, size and profile of your cladding will have a big impact on how the finished property looks, so it’s essential to get these aspects right if the build is going to be a success.
Orientation - timber cladding can be installed with the boards running vertically, horizontally or diagonally. The orientation you choose will help to determine the look and feel of the finished building.
Size - cladding boards come in a range of widths and thicknesses. Think about how the thickness of the boards will impact on the look of your building: do you want a chunky texture to your walls or a flat smooth consistent look? There’s also the possibility of going for multiple widths, adding a scattered feel to your facade. Lastly, if you want your boards to run vertically up the side of your building, think about whether or not you want joints to be visible. If not, talk to your supplier about species that are long enough to run up your facade in a single length.
Profile - this is where attention to detail pays as there is a wide selection of standard profiles available: shiplap, tongue and groove, board-on-board, rhombus and many others. Try to imagine what the boards in each profile would look like when installed side by side. Do you prefer a bigger or smaller gap between them? One of the most popular profiles is TGV: tongue-and-groove fitting, with a groove in a V shape running along the length between the boards, such as the image below:
You’ll find a full range of profiles and styles of wood cladding from most manufacturers, although the trade can usually cater to custom made profiles depending on the size of your project.
You’ll also need to consider how the cladding will alter over time. All wood changes as it ages, with some types of timber fading to a silvery grey within months and others holding their natural colour for much longer.
Still, while timber cladding is a relatively low-maintenance solution for the exterior of your building, it will need some upkeep if it’s going to stay in good condition, especially if you decide to add a coating for colour or extra protection. As @granddesignsmag explains, “Different species vary in the amount of maintenance required. Wood that is naturally knot-free (clear grade) brings a clean, contemporary look while knottier varieties have a more rustic appeal.” Speak to your timber cladding supplier about the types of timber available and the maintenance properties of each cladding option.
Well designed, good quality timber should provide reliable performance for years to come. Often, one of the most important factors in the longevity of timber cladding is moisture content. Getting the moisture content right will ensure the cladding doesn’t expand or contract too much in extreme conditions and natural ventilation is the best way to get there - so make sure you leave a small gap between boards for the air to circulate and allow the boards to naturally adapt to their environment.
Minimising the movement of wood helps to prevent twisting and cracking and keeps cladding looking like new and working longer. This is where good fixings (we always recommend stainless steel screws) become vital to the success of your cladding project. Most types of cladding can be made more durable by the application of specialist treatments. The design of your cladding can also help to mask the effects of moisture on the cladding and help to minimise the impact of weather on your building’s façade.
Learn more about the different types of wood cladding available, and get advice on the products most suitable for your building, by exploring our site today.