Sign up to our Newsletter. Subscribe to access your free Build Cost Calculator to help start your project journey. Subscribe now

Everything you need to know about timber cladding

When it comes to timber cladding, our go-to supplier is Russwood. We have used their products on many projects, and both Paul and Alan have used their cladding on their own homes.

Five things to consider when choosing timber cladding

David Ross from Russwood shares his top tips to help you get started.

1. Design

When it comes to choosing cladding, which has an enormous impact on the overall appearance of a home, Pinterest can be your best friend. We often ask clients to do a bit of research first to get a sense of what they do – and don’t like. “It’s important to have an idea of the kind of aesthetic you wish to achieve,” begins David.

“Do you prefer a more refined finish or something with a little more of a rugged character? Doing some research into timber clad projects you like, and perhaps having some precedent projects to refer to can be helpful.”

2. Budget

As with any product, the budget will be a deciding factor as cladding prices vary. If you are on a budget, keeping things simple will inevitably keep costs down. “A home-grown timber, such as Russwood’s Scotlarch that is allowed to weather naturally is a low cost, robust and long-lasting solution.”

It might seem cheaper to go for a basic softwood, but it would need regular maintenance once fitted. When you consider the cost of repeated staining, etc. the costs weigh up. When you compare it against a higher-quality timber such Siberian larch, it would last for 50 years or more with little maintenance.

Scotlarch® off sawn board on board cladding | Talla Na Mara | Rural Design Ltd | John Maher Photography

3. Finishes

It’s really important to consider how your cladding will change over time. Do you want to let it age naturally, in a specific way or not at all?

“A fully weathered timber can be beautiful,” says David. “If this is your chosen aesthetic, it’s important to consider the speed and uniformity of the weathering of your cladding.” Russwood recommends the SiOO:X weathering treatment to give a uniform weathered appearance. Find out more here:

Sawn Siberian Larch Vertical Timber Cladding with light grey stain  | Stamford Road | Dug Wilders Photography

Russwood’s natural SiOO:X protection:

SiOO:X Wood Protection eliminates differential weathering

If you’re not so keen on the weathered look, there are alternatives. “You could opt for a paint coating to retain a new timber look, or give the timber an entirely different colour.”

One of the reasons we recommend timber cladding to our clients is for the environmental benefits. We would always advise against using a timber treated with preservatives. “These are invariably environmentally damaging,” says David. “Provided durable grades of timber are selected, an uncoated timber cladding requires little to no maintenance and could last 50-100 years.”

Brushed Thermopine® Cladding coated black in profile RW014 | Loader Monteith Architects | Nigel Rigden Photography

Check out Russwood’s coated options:

A great alternative to naturally weathered timber

4. Species

Your chosen timber type plays a huge part in the durability and performance of your cladding. Once you’ve considered all of the above points, selecting your species will much more straightforward. Russwood have a very useful guide comparing the different timber species:

5. Installation

Whether you’re working with a contractor or have chosen to go down the self-build route, taking the time to plan the fitting of your cladding is crucial. According to David, two main factors contribute to poor timber cladding. “The use of inadequate fixings that are poorly fitted, as well as sourcing cheaper, low-quality timber which aren’t suitable for external use will result in poor timber cladding.”

We understand time is money, but you’ll be grateful in the long run if you take your time and don’t rush the detailing. “With careful detailing and using timber and fixings appropriate for the project’s location, timber can be an attractive, low-maintenance, sustainable, cladding material.”

It’s also important to invest in high-quality fixings. “Durable timbers are often quite acidic so high-quality stainless steel fixings should be used to avoid corrosion and staining,” says David.

Reasons to use timber cladding

We’re advocates of timber!

There’s no denying we’re advocates for using timber cladding.

For the right project and when used correctly, the performance, design and cost tick all the right boxes. Crucially, timber is the one truly sustainable building material.

If you’re interested in finding out more, read Russwood’s reason’s to use timber cladding blog.

Our Favourite timber cladding

If you look at our Projects page, it’s easy to see how we feel about timber cladding. We love using it for its versatility, performance and sustainability. 

We’re delighted to be joined by David Ross from Russwood this month. In case you missed it, we teamed up with Russwood a few months ago to share their top tips for finding the best timber cladding.

Image: Martin Gardner Photography
The Crow’s Nest, Lyme Regis – AR Design Studio

One of my favourite projects is the Crow’s Nest. I like the sculptural, faceted form of this project and how our SILA A/B Siberian larch timber has been used simply – a simple skimmed board, square edge, open rainscreen, but by introducing random board widths the façade feels more dynamic. It is also a great example of the freedom you have to be creative with Siberian larch. Our SILA A/B grade limits knots, meaning narrow boards are possible, whilst the Siberian larch’s durability and density allow the timber to be used for decking, wall cladding and roof cladding, so a uniformity of material was possible across all the external timbers. [David Ross]

Image: Invisible Studio
Starfall Farm, Gloucestershire – Invisible Studio

I’m turning into a bit of an Invisible Studio fan, it seems. Ever since I first saw this project published, I was taken by the brave cladding approach. From how it meets the ground without the normal “big boots” to how it meets the sky without a lid or flashing, it challenges what we expect to do with timber. The cladding really sings because of this. I developed a version of the ribbed arrangement for my house extension, although I wasn’t as brave with the lack of protection. [Paul]

Image: Liam Seaman
J G Graves Woodland Discovery Centre, Sheffield

I think its a playground type contraption made out of a shipping container? A shipping container then decoratively covered in battens that ride the line between fussy and unfussy. It may not even intentionally be a trellis. It may not have any real purpose at all. But I dig it. [Liam]

Image: Arch Daily

Tower Wharf Cafe, London – Tony Fretton Architects

This caught my eye recently. The simple form and timber cladding work quietly together in the historical setting, surrounded by crowds of tourists and traffic on the road and river nearby. [Jess]

Image: Jack Hobhouse, Dezeen

Alfriston School, Buckinghamshire – Morris + Company

I’m a big fan of Morris + Company’s work and I particularly like this school swimming pool they completed a few years ago. The timber cladding is relatively simple in its detailing but its the form of the roofs that really makes this building sing for me. Cladding both the roofs and walls in timber helps to create a simple, paired back look – one that’s inspired my house extension. And, even though it’s slightly off-topic, the timber roof internally is incredible! [Alan]

Image: Living Architecture
Dune House, Suffolk – Mole Architects + Jarmund/Vigsnæs Architects

The initial concept for this building was for the roof to appear as if it was floating above the dunes of the Suffolk coast. The success of the illusion is down to the contrasting material choice; the dark stained timber cladding provides the focal point for this house while also relating to the existing sheds found in the surrounding area. To juxtapose the heavier upper floor the materiality of the ground floor is predominantly glass, which simultaneously allows for the spectacular sea views to be appreciated from almost everywhere inside. The Dune House can be rented as a holiday home so I’d like to stay there someday! [Mo]

Image: La Colline de Bouties
Lov’Nid, France – La Colline de Boutiès

Isn’t this the dream? A timber nest to camp out in, hidden amongst oak and acacia trees in France. I love the contrast of the rustic timber cladding against the smooth white walls inside. Definitely one for the bucket list. [Fera

Timber cladding is just one aspect of our commitment to sustainability. Learn more about us & our sustainable design practices.

Check out these inspirational projects

Russwood’s case studies are a great source for inspiration: