How to Install External Timber Cladding - Armstrong Cheshire
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How To Install External Timber Cladding

How To Install External Timber Cladding

Gerard Dickinson |

There are a few options available to improve the look of your home’s exterior. One of the popular ones is called external timber cladding, also known as weatherboard cladding. This involves adding a strong and protective layer to the outside of the house that also looks stylish and smart. But how do you install external timber cladding? Let’s take a look.

Why choose timber cladding?

Exterior wood cladding is popular because it makes the house look smart, creates a uniform appearance that can be tied in with other wood around the property and also helps insulate the house.

Cladding is a great option because when you choose something like treated Shiplap timber or other correctly treated wood, it can last for decades. This makes for a great value option on top of other benefits.

Cladding is also an eco-friendly option because timber is a renewable material. Many brands also now focus on making their products more sustainable by replacing trees that are cut and easing the impact their products have on the environment.

Finally, the cladding looks very smart and is eye-catching while remaining easy to fit. For keen DIY fans, you can often do the job yourself and if not, it is cost-effective to install because it is a relatively simple job for a professional to handle.

Do you need planning permission for timber cladding?

In most cases, there’s no need to have planning permission for timber cladding. It falls under Permitted Development in the same way that making minor changes, adding a conservatory or re-roofing your property does.

However, there are exceptions and you should always check none of these applies to you. Examples of exceptions where planning permission will be required include listing buildings, those in a conservation area, National Park, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or properties with any kind of restrictions on it of this nature.

You’ll probably already know if that’s your house, but it is always worth checking first.

Choosing the right cladding

The first stage in adding a type of external timber cladding to your home is to choose the right material. Different timbers will work in different places and locations so it is important to work with a specialist in cladding supply to get the right product.

Look at the appearance, durability, colour, grain and longevity of the cladding to get a feel for what is the best option. Examples include cedar cladding, larch cladding, types of pine and even painted timber.

Another consideration is the cladding profile. This impacts the way the cladding looks and behaves but also how it is installed. Again there are lots of options and an expert will talk you through the basics to help you choose.

The final big consideration is how the timber will respond to the environment. It is natural for timber to swell and shrink due to the presence of moisture in and around the wood. Timber acclimatizes and reaches an equilibrium with the moisture inside it over time and where you live can play a part in how the process happens.

Installing the cladding

Once you have the right product selected and delivered, you are ready for the installation process. There’s a lot of slightly different options depending on the type of cladding you choose but we will give a general overview to help you see how the process works - the individual product you have bought will have its own exact recommendations to add into this.


Timber cladding is generally used for horizontal use but there are some that work for vertical installation. Always make sure you check you use the right process for the type of cladding.

Also, you will need backing structure battens that are used to fix each panel of cladding to the walls.

Before fixing

If the timber is going to be stained or painted, it is best to apply one or ideally two coats to all sides and ends before you start to fix the boards. You can always add another coat once it is in place.

Then you need to take the following measures:
  • Make sure cut ends of the boards or drill holes are protected with a suitable wood preserver.
  • If the cladding isn’t coated, protect the end grain to stop moisture uptake and avoid swelling or discolouration.
  • Make sure the battens you are using are at least twice the thickness of the cladding boards.
  • Nails should be something like an annular ring shank in stainless steel to stop them from becoming stained while being strong enough to hold the cladding in place.
  • Nails need to be at least three times the thickness of the cladding board

Wall structures

How the cladding is added to the wall structure depends on the cladding and the wall. But there are a few basic examples to follow:

  • External walls - to clad to this, you will need to attach battens to the wall then add the cladding to the battens
  • Timber frame wall - to clad to this, you will need to attach battens to studs in the walls then add the cladding to the battens. Also, make sure you have breather membranes to ensure the right airflow
  • Cavity wall - to clad to this, add the battens with plug and screw then add the cladding to the battens

Wall features

The next step is to handle any wall features which include doors and windows, corners and flashing. This is important for the overall appearance of the cladding also as part of the weatherproofing.

High-quality caulking will be usually used to seal gaps around windows and doors as well as sealants for other features depending on their material. The aim is to ensure that no water can get through these and impact the battens below the cladding or to leak into the house itself.

Tips for installing external timber cladding

While the step by step process of installing the cladding is dependant on various elements, a few tips will apply to almost any configuration using battens and cladding:
  • Battens should be maximum of 600mm centres for vertical and horizontal cladding with 400mm centres used if boards are being fitted diagonally
  • Insect mesh can be added at cavity openings.
  • A ventilation gap of at least 21mm should be added to make sure that air can circulate and rainwater can drain if it does get through.
  • Horizontal cladding boards butted together need a second batten that extends at least the width of one board above and below the board being fixed.
  • Butt joints need a 5mm airflow gap.
  • Fix nails at least 20mm from the end of boards and 15mm from the edges - pre-drilling the holes is the best option to make it easier to handle.
  • Cladding board should be double nailed at each batten through the thickest part of the board where possible.
  • Nails need to be flush with the surface of the board

A stylish external finishing

External timber cladding is a stylish way to finish your house and there are plenty of options to get just the look you want while using a type of timber that will suit where you live. Grab some expert advice to get that perfect pairing of cladding and system for your home and protect it for decades to come.

Take a look at our range of external cladding for your project.

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