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what are the different types of timber cladding

Your choice of cladding for your outbuildings speaks volumes about it. The exterior of your house, office building, or garden bar is the first thing visitors see, and the cladding you choose has a significant impact on their initial impression. Hence why we’re here to demystify the types of timber cladding on the market, including which is best and, of course, their practical applications.

Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or just getting acquainted with the world of home and garden improvement, understanding these distinctions will empower you to make informed decisions for your cladding endeavours.

Let’s get down to business.

Before we start, we should clarify – what is timber cladding?

Timber cladding is a common exterior finish for buildings. ‘Cladding’ refers to components that are attached to a primary structure to form the external structure, whereas ‘timber’ refers to the material that these components are made of.

Why does cladding matter?

We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: timber is the building material of the past and the present, and it’s not going anywhere. With the UK industry set to reach a steady compound annual growth of 4% and the demand for the product increasing across both residential and commercial settings, it’s hugely popular. But why?

Well for one, cladding serves a crucial role in both the functionality and aesthetics of a building. From protecting the underlying structure against weathering and moisture infiltration to enhancing its visual appeal, cladding is useful in architectural design.

Weather elements such as rain, wind, and sunlight can cause significant damage to a building over time if left unprotected. Cladding acts as the first line of defence, shielding the structure from these elements and preventing moisture penetration, which can lead to mould, rot, and decay.

Interestingly, cladding also contributes to the thermal insulation of a building, helping to regulate internal temperatures and improve energy efficiency. Beyond this, it’s a great way to make a visual statement about your project that is bound to turn heads.

a worker staining a type of timber cladding

What are the different types of timber cladding? 5 high-performance options

As there are many timber products, there are many types of cladding available, and it’s important to note that this is not just limited to timber. Composite cladding options are now also widely used as a maintenance-free solution, but more on that later.

1.      Shiplap cladding

With a tongue and groove fit but a longer lip than some other grooved boards, these types of timber cladding provide superior water protection, owing to their extremely tight seal.

One of the many reasons shiplap timber cladding is ideal for sheds, cabins and summerhouses is due to the high levels of durability provided by the wooden boards. Thanks to the profile of the wood, the boards are able to contract and expand according to the climate without warping.

Log Lap Cladding 143mm x 33mm

2.      Log lap cladding

Log lap cladding is still tongue and groove, but rather than a flat finish to each cladding board, each board has a curved finish. Unlike traditional tongue and groove cladding, log lap cladding boards are planed to a thickness of 15mm at their thickest point.

This style of cladding is a popular choice for both residential and non-residential applications, as it offers a rustic yet modern look that complements a variety of architectural styles. The curved finish of each board creates a shadow effect that adds depth and texture to any building facade, making it an eye-catching design choice.

Rebated Feathered Edge 150mm x 25mm Cladding

3.      Rebated feather edge cladding

Rebated feathered edge cladding is one of the types of wood cladding designed and manufactured to fix flush against the mounting surface. The sawn boards are cut on a diagonal to create a tapered finish which gives enhanced weather protection. The boards are then tanalised to protect the timber and prolong life expectancy.

This form of cladding is popular for garden sheds, agricultural barns, animal shelters, stables, log stores and cabins. The tanalised timber will eventually weather to a grey look and blend in with natural woodland surroundings. Cladding boards can also be treated with fence paints or other coloured timber preservatives to give a different finish.

Tanalised Feathered Edge Board 125mm

4.      Feather edge cladding

Feather edge cladding is typically made from North European Whitewood (mainly from Tulip). Ours is kiln-dried to 18% moisture content before being painted black for a sleek, professional look. The timber tapers from 22mm to 7mm and is double-coated to ensure a uniform black finish on all sides.

Matchboard Cladding

5.      Matchboard cladding

Tanalised matchboard cladding is a great way to add a touch of natural beauty to any interior or exterior surface. The carefully crafted tongue and groove design of these matchboard cladding panels ensures easy installation, while the tantalised pressure-treated cladding allows for long-lasting use, even when exposed to harsh outdoor elements.

These panels are perfect for wooden panelling on walls, ceilings, or sheds, as they create a warm and inviting atmosphere with a rustic yet stylish appearance. With the added benefit of pressure-treatment, this cladding is protected against rot, mould, and other signs of decay that can affect untreated timber over time.

a worker staining a type of timber cladding

What is the best timber for cladding?

When it comes to timber cladding, the material options are as diverse as the cladding styles themselves. Like each of the types of timber cladding we have discussed, the species of wood brings its own unique characteristics to the table.

To that end, we would like to reveal a few prime options that simply command one’s attention.


Cedar is a highly durable softwood with a stunning, warm reddish-brown hue, with Western Red Cedar specifically having become a wildly popular cladding timber in recent years.

Many consider it to be the best species for cladding as it’s a durable softwood with a high resistance to warping and twisting, plus it’s easy to handle. Lightweight, stable, affordable, weather resistant and with impeccable workability and nailing properties, this resinous species naturally repels all the outdoor evils it will encounter.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re cladding a DIY outdoor garden bar or the side of a large real estate property, Western Red Cedar won’t let you down.


Larch is a very popular timber for cladding, and it does not require regular treatment. With the best quality Larch grown at higher altitudes and cooler temperatures, species like Siberian Larch are very highly rated.

It’s slow growing, which results in minimal knots and imperfections. Another thing to note: generally speaking, Larch cladding is cheaper than Cedar but is by no means the poorer alternative, with many attractive qualities. Siberian Larch is durable and stable, so acts as great exterior cladding.

European Oak

With a lovely deep golden-brown colour and a straight grain, this is a very popular choice for hardwood cladding. This variety is extremely tough and durable like any hardwood and its appearance is only enhanced by selective staining. For long-life durability and a beautiful look, it’s a great choice for exterior cladding.

Douglas Fir

This is a Redwood timber grown in the UK among other countries. Known for its durability despite its status as a softwood, it also has high qualities of strength and versatility. Thanks to the wood being home-grown, it’s a better option for the climate-conscious consumer as there’s no need for the product to be shipped around the globe.

What about composite cladding?

Composite cladding, as briefly mentioned earlier, presents a modern alternative to traditional timber options. Comprised of a blend of wood fibres, plastics, and sometimes other materials, composite cladding offers several advantages.

It’s often lauded for its durability, resistance to rot, and low maintenance requirements, making it an attractive option for those seeking longevity and ease of upkeep. What’s more, composite cladding typically comes in a variety of colours and finishes, allowing for greater design flexibility.

While it may not possess the same natural charm as timber nor the same environmental credentials, composite cladding excels in its ability to withstand the elements and maintain its appearance over time.

Which is the best type of timber cladding for you?

The world of timber cladding is vast and varied, offering an array of options to suit every project’s needs and preferences. From the classic charm of shiplap to the rustic appeal of log lap, each style has a unique offering for character and functionality.

Composite materials provide modern alternatives for those seeking low-maintenance solutions, but less environmentally friendly components. When it comes to selecting the right timber species, factors such as durability, appearance, and sustainability come into play.

Whether you opt for the timeless elegance of Western Red Cedar, the natural resilience of Larch, the sophistication of European Oak, or the versatility of Douglas Fir, each wood type offers its own set of advantages.

By understanding the nuances of timber cladding and considering your specific requirements, you can make an informed decision to enhance the aesthetics, durability, and value of your project. So, which type(s) of timber cladding will you choose to bring your vision to life?

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