What’s the best garden room cladding?5.04.2021
Timber has been used for millennia to keep the weather out. It is an abundant natural resource, relatively low cost and is available in a wide range of species and finishes. And has eco-credentials second to none.
But what’s the best timber cladding for your garden room?
The major factors which will certainly influence your decision are the resistance to weather (durability); the visual look; as well as the cost.
Cladding timbers require a low moisture content, be dimensionally stable and have a natural durability to decay, so not all timbers are suitable.
So let’s run through the more popular timber cladding choices.
European redwood, often known as Scots Pine is a popular and widely available softwood, pale yellow in colour. Often sources from Scandinavia and Russia, the quality of the timber is greatly affected by the conditions of growth, climate, soil, elevation etc.
Lighter in weight and without the durability of Siberian larch or Canadian western red cedar, European redwood is however quite a bit cheaper and would usually be treated with preservative to improve the longevity of the timber.
Durability: Classed as Slightly durable when untreated, density of 520 kg/m3
Douglas fir, also known as Columbian pine, is grown in the UK and Canada. Although a softwood, Douglas fir is known for its relative durability and versatility. Typically an attractive red-brown, though colours may vary from pink to cream. Weathers to a striking silver grey over time.
With attractive knotty characteristics, the Canadian-sourced Douglas contains fewer knots, though is more expensive.
One of the strongest homegrown softwoods, Douglas fir is known for being strong and is 60% more stiff and 40% harder than European redwood and with a high resin content, can be used untreated and remain durable.
Durability: Home-grown Douglas fir is classed as Slightly durable; Canadian-sourced is Moderately durable, with a density of 530 kg/m3.
Cost: £ (UK-home grown); or £££ (Canadian-sourced)
UK-grown British larch, sometimes called English larch, is markedly different to the slow-grown Siberian variety, with a light brown colour and frequent dark knots, though is less expensive.
British larch is perhaps best suited to rustic cladding profiles such as sawn feather edge or waney edge, and weathers to a silver-grey if left untreated.
Durability: British larch is classed as Slightly durable, with a density of 410kg/m3
Favoured by architects for its attractive patina, with creamy to warm colours, a tight grain and relatively few knots, Siberian larch is sourced from colder climates of Russia where it enjoys relatively slower growth through short summers and long winters.
With its slow growth and high density, Siberian larch makes it one of the hardest commercial softwoods available, making it a popular choice for external cladding.
Available with a wide range of finishes. Weathers to a striking silver grey if left untreated.
Durability: Siberian larch is classed as Moderately durable, with a density of 590kg/m3.
British western red cedar
Home-grown British western red cedar is very different to its Canadian counterpart, growing faster with a more rustic finish and more knots, plus is paler in colour and not as durable.
Weathers to a silver grey if left untreated.
Durability: British western red cedar is classed as Moderately durable, with a density of 360kg/m3.
Canadian western red cedar
With straight grains and an attractive mix of deep red/brown colours, Canadian western red cedar is regarded highly for its durability, colour and appearance.
A popular cladding choice, western red cedar grows slowly in the cold climate of Canada and as a result, creates stunning fine straight grains, generally with few knots. Although a very lightweight timber, western red cedar is durable and naturally resistant to decay, making it an excellent choice for timber cladding.
Durability: Canadian western red cedar is classed as Durable, with a density of 390kg/m3
European Oak has been used for many years as a traditional and rustic finish, yet with relatively few knots, also lends itself well to a contemporary look. Left untreated Oak will weather to a subtle silver/grey.
Durability: European oak is classed as Highly durable, with a density of 700kg/m3 when kiln dried.
A popular alternative to pressure treated softwood, Thermowood is a heat-treated softwood, produced through chemical-free heating to ~200°C. Subjecting the timber to heat treatment alters the chemical structural within the timber, darkening the timber to a darker brown, while drying it out and removing resin.
The result is a dimensionally stable and more durable softwood, suited to external cladding applications.
Durability: Thermowood is classed as Durable, with a density of 350 – 480 kg/m3.
There has been an explosion of composite exterior cladding options, providing a wide choice for your garden room. These may take the form of a plastic composite or be made from recycled materials – providing greater eco credentials.
Providing a consistent engineered solution and available in a wide range of colours and styles, composite cladding can provide a sleek and highly durable option that will not weather over time.
For many, the choice of timber or composite is a personal preference. But there may be other factors to assist in your decision making, as the material cost is greater than timber, plus you will require the necessary cladding trims from the manufacturer (corners, window reveals etc). You may also require aluminium battens from which to affix or hang your cladding from – manufacturer dependent.
Durability: Highly durable.
Cost: ££ to £££
So whatever your budget or preference, each timber species has its own unique characteristics and charm, helping form a natural attachment to the surroundings which will change over the hours, days and seasons – and always a welcome addition to any garden room.
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