Timber cladding: Materials and applications

Cladding is a key architectural design choice and timber cladding products are sustainable and attractive as well as contributing to thermal performance.


Also called ‘external finishes’, cladding provides a skin or final layer to the exterior of a building and protects each Facit Home from the elements.


As our Facit Chassis™ is digitally manufactured from FSC spruce plywood and then wrapped in a breather membrane (which is bright yellow!), the choice of cladding material is a key part of the design.


A picture of the external cladding at Stour House.
Stour House has a combination of vertical Western Red Cedar cladding and aluminium panels.

Why use timber for external finishes?


We'll hand this question over to our Lead Architect, Fanis.


"We carefully consider the cladding we use based on the design, form and function of the home, as well as the surrounding environment. Sustainably sourced timber is a great material that compliments many designs and has a low carbon footprint.


A natural and warm material, timber creates welcoming outside spaces, such as balcony terraces and garden patios. It blends in with natural colours and ages gracefully if it is good quality to start with.


It is a good cladding material for conservation areas, green belt or AONB areas, and most planning officers recognise it as a sensitive design solution. It creates a distinction from older buildings without being flashy or overwhelming, especially in areas where brick and render are dominant."


Timber products


We’ve used many different types of timber cladding over the years. We love choosing sustainable timber because, as well as providing a beautiful finish, it reduces the embodied energy of the construction.


Embodied energy is the total energy required to build a home (defined by UK Green Building Council as "the total greenhouse gas emissions generated to produce a built asset"). Timber stores carbon so it is a very sustainable choice.


For more benefits of using timber in construction, visit this Wood For Good article.


There are a wide range of timber materials to choose from, some totally natural, some more processed, and many ways that they can be incorporated into a design. Check out a few of our favourites below.


1. Western Red Cedar


Western Red Cedar is precision made by nature, combining the unrivalled beauty of coastal grown Canadian timber with high durability, stability and resistance to decay for the ultimate natural cladding product. Cedar is a softwood that is light in weight and low in density. Not prone to weathering, it is more durable and more stable than many other timber products. Left untreated, the natural oils of the wood are more than enough to protect it from rain and shine for many years.


Western Red Cedar - Stour House.

2. Thermowood


Thermowood, also known as heat treated timber, is a beautiful, sustainable timber material produced using chemical-free heat treatment. Originally a Scandinavian softwood, the wood colour darkens during the heat treating process and it becomes more stable than normal wood in conditions of changing humidity. Its thermal insulation properties are also improved and the treatment process makes the wood resistant to decay.


Charred Thermowood - Flower House.

3. Siberian Larch


One of the most naturally hardy timbers, Siberian Larch has a lustrous golden-brown colour and striking grain pattern. The hardness of Siberian Larch, which is highly correlated with its density, makes it difficult for water and fungi to penetrate the wood. This has a positive effect on performance, helping to maintain a better appearance and reducing maintenance.


A two tone house facade.
Siberian Larch x Standing Seam Metal - Maltings.

Applications


Timber is versatile. And it’s not just about choosing what colour and finish, it’s also about choosing how to apply the material to the design.


“We can use the timber cladding in different arrangements, like with flooring. Vertical, horizontal, at an angle or in a chevron pattern. The versatility and relatively low cost when compared to other cladding materials, such as zinc or composite stone panels, make timber cladding a very good choice for tighter budgets.”


The application and combination of timber materials can have a unique effect. Here are some examples of how timber products can be adapted.


1. Directional cladding


Print House showcases the design effect of two types of directional timber cladding. The stained Thermowood is set in a chevron pattern while unstained Western Red Cedar cladding is vertical by contrast.


The home is divided into two elements (or wings) - one with a flat roof and another with a pitched roof. Vertical and chevron timber boarding defines those two forms.


A vertical timber cladding arrangement can also work on curved walls without any aesthetic compromise. Comparatively, large stone panels would have to be limited in width to follow a curve.


2. Board-on-board timber


Board-on-board timber cladding is a textured effect that can work well combined with other cladding materials. A vertical design created using wide trim boards spaced apart with narrower trim boards or battens covering the joins - various combinations are used to create different looks suitable for large or small-scale applications. There are no set board or batten widths.


Board-on-board Western Red Cedar x COR-TEN steel.

3. Shiplap cladding


Another way to apply timber is in an overlap. Shiplap is like tongue and groove in that the boards click together to create a reliable connection that won’t move, but it has a slight slant to the profile that allows rainwater to run off easily.


4. Charred timber


The surface of timber can be burned to create a hard black surface that will protect the timber from insects and mold. This will preserve its appearance for even longer. Charred timber creates a roughness that compliments in its contrast the untreated timber when used together, or other natural materials such as stone and concrete.


Charring timber enhances the durability of the material and protects it from the weather. The colour is an additional benefit of this approach. Larch is a tough and durable material and after charring the maintenance is low. It needs oiling every 10-15 years. Most timber products can be charred in this way.


A black timber home.
Charred Thermowood - Flower House.

5. Stained timber


Stained timber is a more cost-effective alternative to charring. Timber stain protects and enhances the natural wood grain, as well as enhancing the colours of the timber.


Situated under two lime trees, the exterior of Print House is clad in a timber rain screen coated in a dark stain to reduce the visual impact of the building from the park and reduce the need for ongoing cleaning caused by the dark coloured sap released from the trees. The contrasting sections have Western Red Cedar vertical boarding.


Stained Thermowood - Print House.

Other types of (non-timber) cladding


While we love using FSC timber for our homes, we also enjoy working with other materials, such as COR-TEN steel or Glass Reinforced Concrete, which has the appearance of stone panelling. As seen above, we’ve combined all types of timber products with other materials, like standing seam metal or aluminium panels.


If you’re thinking of designing and building your dream home (possibly clad in one of these beautiful timber options), contact us today.


Call Rhys in the studio on 020 3034 7021 or email info@facit-homes.com with the details of your project.


Subscribe to our newsletter

For monthly thoughts, insights, stories and news from the studio.

You've subscribed!

Explore completed projects