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What is Timber Cladding?

T. L. Childree
T. L. Childree

Timber cladding is an exterior wood veneer used to protect a structure from the elements and enhance its appearance. Several types of hard and soft wood are used for timber cladding. These wood types may be treated or untreated, depending upon their durability rating. Timber such as white-wood, redwood, and pine is typically treated, while fir, cedar, and oak are usually left untreated. Cladding styles generally include notched lap, tapered lap, ship lap, and chamferboard.

Timber cladding typically forms the exterior portion of structures utilizing double walls. The inner wall is usually composed of drywall, plaster, or paneling. Exterior cladding is often used in conjunction with a vapor or moisture barrier. The cavity between the two walls is frequently filled with electrical wiring, plumbing, and insulation. Timber cladding may be utilized as the sole exterior facade or attached to sheathing panels.


Both softwood and hardwood are utilized for timber cladding. Cladding boards may be treated with a wood preservative or allowed to weather over time. The particular wood type usually determines the need for a preservative treatment. Softwoods such as pine, white-wood, and redwood typically require the use of a wood preservative. Other softwoods such as cedar, fir, and larch generally do not require a preservative treatment.

Wood used for timber cladding is typically classified according to its overall durability. Durability ratings for cladding wood usually extend from moderate to high durability. Moderately durable cladding wood is generally maintenance free for a period of 10 to 15 years. Timber cladding that is classified as highly durable should require no maintenance for 15 to 25 years. Oak and cedar are usually considered to be the most durable cladding materials, while pine and fir typically offer the least durability.

Timber cladding is typically installed in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal manner. Thin wooden boards called battens are usually attached to the inner wall prior to the installation of the exterior cladding material. These batten boards are normally installed perpendicular to the direction of the cladding. There are several different styles of cladding used in building construction. The most common styles are notched lap, tapered lap, ship lap, and chamferboard.

Notched lap cladding typically has a notch at the bottom and top of each piece. These notches allow the pieces to overlap each other and fit together correctly. The cladding is usually nailed to the battens just beneath the overlapping area. Tapered cladding is somewhat thinner at the top to allow the lower piece to slide underneath the upper one. This type of cladding is installed in the same manner as notched cladding, but it has a slightly larger overlap.

Ship lap cladding features a slightly angled notch for added design. This cladding has approximately the same amount of overlap as tapered cladding, but it has exposed nails. Chamferboard cladding is also referred to as Dutch lap siding. This type of cladding has a longer angle than ship lap and about the same amount of overlap as notch cladding. Chamferboard cladding also has exposed nails.

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