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Weatherboarding (also referred to as cladding) can provide a beautiful finish to your timber frame. There are numerous options of material, profile and finish to choose from and therefore a wide variety of different combinations, each with its own style. The aesthetic considerations are probably the first thing to think about, however there are also differences in cost, durability and fitting.
Weatherboarding on an extension can provide an interesting contrast to the finish of the main house which in some cases can break up large visual expanses. Planners often like to see this. It can be finished in a classic traditional appearance or rustic for outbuildings or crisp and contemporary for more architectural situations. As with any external timber, untreated weatherboarding will gradually silver down under the action of sunlight. Despite starting off with very different colours, the oxidation process ultimately renders most timbers to a very similar appearance making them hard to tell apart.
We tend to favour the use of rough sawn boarding which can be used in its fresh sawn (unseasoned) state. Oak, Larch and Western Red Cedar are the main 3 timbers used, although Elm and Chestnut are also available. Each are naturally durable and offer good lifespans. The most durable (and most expensive) are Oak and Cedar, however the thickness of the board has a big influence on how long it will last. The thicker the board, the more stable it will be, meaning the detailing will hold its integrity, and the less it will be affected by the degrading effect of the weather over time.
Fresh sawn boards are cheaper than machined and processed timber and provide a simple, classic finish. None of these timbers need further treatment and are generally used with a rough sawn finish. Simple lapped boarding has a real charm to it: the slight variations in section and width mean it is easy on the eye and gives a relaxed, informal, timeless look. A new house finished with rough sawn boarding can mellow and blend into the landscape with ease and within a year can look as if its always been there.
Of course painted weatherboarding also has a rich history in many countries and can be the perfect style for some environments. You may be better off using a machined board, as they are usually already dry and take a finish more easily. They are available in a variety of profiles. Fresh sawn boards will need a few months to dry before painting or colour-washing.
Machined boarding is usually more expensive but is dry from the word go and therefore more stable. It offers consistent sections which give it a crisper appearance and make the fitting and detailing easier.
There are newer products on the market such as 'Thermowood' which claim to offer increased levels of stability, insulation and resistance to insect attack and rot. This is achieved by heating the timber to high temperature – a process which denatures the timber, changing its cellular and chemical characteristics and making it impossible for insects and fungi to use it as nourishment. This makes it extremely durable.
The research into heat treatment has been going on since the 1930's and the techniques were perfected in Finland in the 1990's. The characteristically dark heat treated wood is perfect for architecturally designed houses and contemporary finishes. It is available (among others) in ash, poplar, and a range of high quality Scandinavian redwoods.
We would advise the use of stainless fixings wherever possible. These are more expensive than some other options but offer the best durability in an external situation. Screws are best but nails are also commonly used. Fixings can be driven through the face and left visible and screws can be countersunk to be flush.
Lapped boards can be 'secret nailed' to hide the fixings. There are a range of 'systems' available which allow you to 'clip' boards in and give a very tidy appearance. These are expensive but offer big reductions on the fitting time and mean that boards can be easily removed and replaced if necessary. This makes adaptations and extensions to the building easier and can also offer easy access to the zone behind the boarding for running services
Weatherboarding is the final finish, not the only barrier against weather. There is usually a full build up underneath the boards which can easily provide the normal domestic standards of insulation, airtightness and protection from water ingress expected by Building Regulations.
Weatherboarding is usually something which is best carried out by your builder as it happens at a much later stage than the raising of the frame. We are very happy to pass on details of sawmills and suppliers that we use and know about. Contact us for more information.
We can offer to include weatherboarding into our package, this is most suitable when the project is local to one of our yards or when we are undertaking a complete build. This can be considered on smaller projects and is appropriate for uninsulated outbuildings and garages where the weatherboarding can be done at the same time as the frame raising. Contact us for more details.