How To Choose Which Cladding is Best For You

How To Select The Right Cladding For Your New Shed, Timber Workshop or Summerhouse

When you decide to buy a new garden shed, summer house or garden workshop you will be confronted with a lot of different choices so it’s important to know what the differences are. This will ensure that your new garden building will have the best cladding to suit its needs and more importantly which will be better for you.

1/ How To Decide Which Cladding to Use
The most common material to use on garden sheds, potting sheds, summerhouses and timber workshops is timber and it’s very easy to understand why. Timber, being a naturally grown product, feels ‘right’ in the garden, as if it was meant to be. Timber is also a little less outlandish or bolshy (unless you have a cheap shed cover in garish red treatment).

The random pattern with the timber grain on the wood is rather attractive and feel more at home so besides being a natural and environmentally friendly product looks good. Some people will go for steel or metal buildings and, even though attempts are made to look good, can be a little austere for some tastes. Concrete cladding is available as well and has great strength and if painted can look quite presentable to the eye. There is also a range of plastic-clad garden sheds and timber workshops which, again, can be quite a good option.

2/ Which Timber Cladding to Use in Your Garden
You will find that wooden cladding comes in a number of different finishes. Years ago most garden shed and timber workshops were made using feather edge cladding and these boards just overlapped each other. The shape of the plank of the wood gives is why its’ call feather edge. Looking end on at the end of each plank you will see that it is thicker at the lower edge and thinner at the top edge (triangular). With the proviso that there is at least ¾in (18mm) overlap on each board then this type of cladding will work really well and did so over many years. However, steer well clear of any feather edge boards which are less than ½in (12mm) thick at the ‘thick edge as you will find these board will twist and split over time. You may also find some sheds using overlap boards which are only about ¼” (6mm) thick and with a very small overlap. Avoid these cheap options if you want to avoid bad weather getting into your new garden shed or workshop.

3/ Shiplap Timber Cladding
The most popular option nowadays is shiplap timber boards. These are planks of wood which go from the sawmill and into a factory where there are put through a planing machine. This will give the cladding a smooth edge on both sides. You will find on the outside of the board there will be a small profile which adds to its appeal. There was also be a rebate added to the top and bottom edges of the wood. In years gone by shiplap would normally only have a rebate in the top of the plank for the next plank to slip under but more up to date companies like 1st Choice Leisure Buildings decided to add a tongue and a groove to the boards. This meant that each board would lock into the next board making the finished garden shed, timber workshop or summerhouse very strong indeed. Many other companies now follow 1st Choice Leisure Buildings and also offer this option. They do say ‘Imitation is the best form of flattery’. Whereas traditional rebated shiplap is good it’s not quite as good as modern T&G cladding so where ever possible go for T&G shiplap. Also when choosing be VERY wary about any shiplap cladding which is less than ½in (12mm) thick finished thickness.

4/ Loglap Timber Cladding
Another option is loglap cladding. In essence it’s the same as shiplap but the profile on the outside face of the plank of wood is a rounded to give a log effect which works quite well (within its limitations) Loglap is a very popular option of wooden summerhouses and I actually have a loglap summer house in my garden which I think looks great. You will also find that loglap is thicker than shiplap (and is reflected in its price). Be wary if offered rebated loglap and try to go for T&G (tongue and grooved) finish if you are aiming for the strongest finish.

5/ Cedar Timber Cladding
Cedar cladding is another option but not widely available it’s quite expensive. Its main assets are that it has very straight and fine grain to the wood and this gives it an attractive appearance. The timber also tends to retain its natural oils which help to preserve it. These features make the timber very strong and long-lasting. You would normally not find this option on ‘run of the mill’ garden shed but on top end summer houses and timber workshops.

Many people associate cedar as being a hardwood but it’s not. But its’ quality does make it a great choice for an outdoor timber building. However the high cost of cedar makes it hard to justify and if you add tanalised treatment to the normal shiplap or loglap you can get the benefits of long life, normally associated with cedar, at a more reasonable cost. All of the Platinum summer houses, timber workshops and garden sheds are tanalised as standard.

6/ Thickness of Timber Cladding
Besides choosing the type of cladding you need to be very careful about the thickness of the timber. The minimum thickness you should aim for is ½in (12mm) finished thickness size. This, when combined with T&G boards will make a good strong and reliable shed, summerhouse or workshop. Be exceptionally wary if the cladding is thinner than this as its life is likely to be quite sure. However, if you only want a shed for a couple of years then it may be an option for you. You just need to make a judgment call on it – a slightly more expensive building which will last or save a few pounds and have to buy another one in a few years.

7/ Using Metal Cladding in Your Garden
Steel and metal garden sheds are reasonably popular because they require very little maintenance. But like most things in life you need to be careful about what you are buying. The metal itself is quite thin as the strength comes from the ‘fold’s in the metal and you will be surprised how rigid they become when assembled. Having said that the sides will flex if pushed upon but will serve a job at keeping you valuable dry from the weather. The crucial thing to check on is the type of treatment the steel has been given. The two types of treatments are ‘electroplating’ and ‘hot dipped galvanised’.

Hot dipped galvanizing is what you should aim for, as in its name, the metal is dipped into a galvanising treatment so all metal is protected. With electroplating, an electrical charge is applied to the metal but this treatment only coats the outer skin. This can easily be damaged exposing the bare metal to the elements and subsequently will rust. Any cheap metal sheds would normally be electroplated as it’s cheaper to do. It’s a false economy in my view and I’ve been in the business since 1979.

8/ Concrete Garden Sheds Cladding
The main features of concrete sheds is its strength and this comes from its reinforced concrete walls. Concrete with steel rods inside for strength. Most quality concrete garden sheds come with a 10 year guarantee so always check before buying.

9/ Conclusion and Advice Re Cladding
Choosing the cladding for your garden shed, summer house or timber workshop is a personal thing as you will find that all garden buildings will protect your possessions from the elements. The most flexible are timber buildings and these tend to come in more or less any size to suit. However, metal concrete and plastic are normally only available in set sizes which restricts their potential uses.


Author is Robin Antill - expert in garden buildings Written By Robin - Expert in Garden Buildings For 42 Years.
Hi, I'm Robin Antill, founder of 1st Choice Leisure Buildings, and I use my expertise gained over 40 years in the garden buildings industry to understand that each customer is different. With my manufacturing, retailing and customer service experience my articles help people choose their ideal shed, garden workshop, summerhouse, log cabin or garden office needs to suit their requirement and that is key to satisfaction. And what do I do when I'm not writing? You may find me following Grimsby Town Football Club or riding roller coasters - so plenty of 'ups and downs' in my life.


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