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The Concise Guide to Timber Cladding on Garden Buildings: Important Information

Whether it’s a summerhouse, shed, or similar structure, it’s always nice to have a structure in your garden. At least, that’s the case when it looks nice and doesn’t start coming apart relatively quickly. Unfortunately, this affects more than a few garden buildings. There are ways around this, however.

Timber cladding, also known as siding in America, is one of the more notable. It improves the aesthetics and minimises any wear and tear on the building. To ensure that happens, you’ll need to get the best cladding for a garden building and ensure it fits your budget.

The amount of cladding for sheds could be a difficult decision. Please make this easier for yourself by keeping a few things in mind to help you decide.

Knowing how to clad a shed and picking the best option for your needs takes a lot of stress and hassle out of the process. Focusing on the right factors when deciding will ensure you get the best cladding for a garden building. Let’s dive in and look at everything you need about timber cladding for your garden building.

What is Timber Cladding?

Shows image of tongue and groove shiplap wooden cladding

Before diving in, it’s worth looking at what timber cladding is in the first place. Quite a few people might need clarification about it or even have the wrong image.

Cladding is an external facade added to the outside of the internal frame (walls). It is often seen as a ‘second skin’ on a building. Cladding can usually be seen in all manner of garden buildings, but it’s increasingly popular in houses in the USA.

Cladding can be made from more than a few materials, with vinyl being a relatively new choice. However, timber cladding has become increasingly popular thanks to its affordable price and overall aesthetics. It also protects a building from the weather quite a bit.

When timber cladding is fixed to the building’s frame, it’s done with planks, and these planks will overlap each other although most buildings use tongue and groove cladding, these planks slot together, giving a smooth finish on the inside and a slight profile on the outside.

The cladding comes in various profiles such as tongue and groove shiplap, tongue and groove loglap and weatherboard (sometimes called featheredge) cladding. These planks will also come in different thicknesses, so ensure you select the correct thickness for your purpose.

Five Things to Know About Garden Shed Cladding

To help you make the right decision, we highlight what you should look out for, what you should avoid, and – as importantly, WHY. Whilst we all want the cheapest price for our garden shed or workshop, you must ensure you buy a building which will fill all your needs and, very importantly, will stand the test of time.

This is why you need to do a little homework beforehand. Yes, I know we were all not keen on doing ‘homework’, but this homework is vital to ensure you are happy when your new building is delivered.

1/ How Thick is the cladding? The cladding is the covering on your shed, i.e. the planks of wood, and this stops the weather from getting at your valuables and running them. You will find several types of claddings available and in different thicknesses.

The thickness of the timber is one of the most important, and you find on some of the cheap sheds the boards only about a ¼ inch (6mm) thick (or should that be thin). To appreciate how thin this is, take a standard pencil and try to break it. You will find it breaks very easily. It’s not very encouraging, and certainly not if it is combined with thin framing. So the thinnest cladding you should go for should be at least 12mm (finished size) and ideally tongue and grooved.

You can get garden sheds made from feather edge cladding. This is wider at one edge than the other (you can see this by looking at the end of the board). These boards will overlap each other to stop the weather from getting in, but there should be at least a 1-inch overlap (25mm), as this will allow the boards to shrink in the summer.

Shows image of weatherboard wooden cladding

2/ Nominal or Finished Thickness? This is a question you should ALWAYS ask as many shed companies advertise the nominal size, which is usually about 3mm thicker than the finished size. This makes the buildings appear thicker than they are, and the only reason is those shed makers need to understand the need to display the correct and factual information about the thickness, or they are trying to mislead potential customers.

The difference between nominal and finished thickness is that when a plank of wood is taken from the sawmill into the factory, both sides of the timber board need to be planed to give it a smooth finish. The planing of the wood reduces the width. Always ask a direct question: What is the actual thickness of the finished product? This way, you won’t be misled.

3/ Redwood or Whitewood Cladding? Garden sheds and well as garden offices are normally made using softwood timber in either European redwood or whitewood deal timber. However, redwood timber is the optimal option; you will find this in the better range of garden sheds. The advantage redwood deal has over whitewood, which would normally be used on cheap garden sheds, is that the redwood is normally much slower growing.

This means the grain in the wood is tighter together and, therefore, more vital. The whitewood deal grows very quickly, meaning the grain is wider apart. In comparison, wood, which has a slightly waxy feel, is very dry and porous. Also, knots in redwood tend to be more stable than those in whitewood. The knots in whitewood tend to be small and prone to falling out.

4/ Shiplap or Feather edge? Timber cladding comes in different types; the main two are shiplap or feather edge. Feather edge is often used on cheaper sheds, but provided it’s quite thick and cut out of 1in (25mm) boards with a good overlap; it will give a pleasing-looking traditional building. But always check how thick it is and how much it overlaps each board.

Shiplap is a modern, sleek-looking timber made from sawn timbers planed down in the factory. This gives it a smooth finish, making it the most popular option nowadays.

5/ Tongue & Grooved or Overlap? Shiplap timber traditionally was an overlap type of board. This meant that on one edge of the board, a groove was cut out, and on the other, a rebate so that they sat onto each other and laid flat when the boards were laid together. Tongue & Grooved shed boards were cut with a tongue on one edge, and on the other edge, there would be a groove.

The tongue sits inside the groove when the garden shed is assembled, giving it a flat surface. As the boards slot into one another, each side of the shed becomes like one solid panel, making it hard for anyone to break into it. This is the best option for most garden sheds.

Why is It Important?

It’s natural to wonder why you should consider adding timber siding to a garden building. There are more than a few reasons why it could be effective. A few of these might make adding to any building important.
It’s worth diving into why adding timber cladding is important to a garden building. The largest of these include:

Shows image of tongue and groove loglap wooden cladding
  • Making Your Garden Building More Durable – A garden building puts up with a lot of wear and tear during the average year. Most of this is because of the weather, but wildlife around your garden can also play a part. This interferes with the structure of the building, making it less and less durable. By adding some timber cladding, however, you protect against almost all of that. You wouldn’t need to worry about many issues with your shed.
  • Adding to Overall Energy Efficiency – By adding timber cladding to your garden building, you could make it more energy efficient than you could’ve thought. It helps avoid warm air leaving the garden, as well as adding a little bit more insulation. Warming your garden building could take much less, making it more energy efficient.
  • Saving You Money Long-Term – Speaking of improving energy efficiency, this could help you save money in the long term. If you spend a lot of time in your garden building, you’ll naturally heat it enough to be comfortable. You’ll need to do this less with some timber clad buildings. You could even avoid needing a lot of maintenance on the building, saving you even more money long-term.
  • Improving a Garden Building Aesthetics – One of the more obvious reasons why timber cladding can be important is it makes sure your garden building looks as nice as possible. There are various looks and styles you can go for, many of which have their unique visual appeal. It’ll tie in better with your garden, making your shed noticeably nicer.

These can all be enough to convince any homeowner to choose a timber clad garden building. Knowing how to clad a shed is a part of this, but it’s also worth focusing on how you can pick the best cladding for a garden building you can.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Timber Cladding for Your Garden Building

Given how appealing timber cladding for sheds is, you should get some relatively quickly. However, take your time and make sure you get the best cladding for your garden building. This may be confusing if you’ve never done this before and don’t know how to clad a shed. Thankfully, it doesn’t need to be as complicated as you think. It could be relatively straightforward.

Focusing on the right factors will help you find the perfect timber cladding. It shouldn’t take much time or effort, and considering how much the suitable cladding adds to your shed, you’ve no reason not to take your time. Focusing on six particular factors could help you more than you think. By focusing on them from the start, you can narrow your options and choose the best ones.
1. Durability
Timber cladding will be exposed to the elements year-round. It helps protect the garden building from wear and tear. However, it needs to be as durable as possible to do that. While timber can withstand the wind relatively well, this depends on the type of wood used to make the cladding.
At the same time, rain and snow will play significant roles. Timber isn’t waterproof by default, and it’ll need specific treatments to help with this. These treatments allow the timber to withstand all kinds of weather.
If you live in a rainy place, you’ll need to ensure the timber cladding you’re considering has received these treatments. They’ll help ensure only a little maintenance is required after you install your timber-clad building. Thankfully, any quality options will come with these treatments as standard.
2. Aesthetics
One of the most apparent factors you’ll want to focus on when getting timber cladding is its aesthetics. After all, you’ll want to ensure it looks excellent in your garden building. Thankfully, this is one of the easier ways to determine the best timber cladding for your garden building.
You should tell instantly whether a particular option is suitable. However, it’s still worth comparing it with more than a few other options. There could be more variations than you thought.
For example, you wouldn’t have to consider bare wood cladding when doing this. As visually appealing as bare wood can be, there are also varnishes, paints, and more than a few other areas you can focus on. Make sure you choose an option you’ll like looking at for years.
3. Sustainability
Nobody wants to harm the environment, and this is an area you’ll need to consider when you’re getting any home improvement projects done. Your garden building should be the same, and you should pay particular attention to it with timber cladding. It’s always worth making sure your timber cladding is sustainably sourced.
There are more than a few ways to do this, and it’s worth looking for specific certifications when you’re doing this. FSC certification is the most notable, ensuring the wood comes from renewable sources.
Quality providers will ensure that the wood they use comes from these sources, but it’s always worth asking about. Go out of your way to ensure that the timber cladding you get is sustainably sourced. With how much of an impact this has on the environment, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.
4. Cost
Cost is one of the more apparent factors when getting timber cladding for your garden building. Thankfully, timber can be one of the more affordable materials. That doesn’t always mean you shouldn’t consider the cost.
Not all timber cladding will cost the same, and multiple factors will play a role. Exactly how much timber cladding you need will be one of the more notable ones. Thankfully, you can find timber cladding to suit all price points.
At worst, you’ll have to make a few sacrifices when making your decision. Some options might be outside of your budget. With the right retailers, however, this could be more affordable. Remember how much you’ll save long-term because you invested in this. It’ll be more than worth the cost in the long term.
5. Climate and Location
As mentioned above, the weather can significantly influence which timber cladding you should get. Your cladding will constantly be exposed to the elements, and you’ll have to make sure the option you pick can withstand this easily. Keep your climate and location in mind when you’re doing this.
Wetter climates will naturally mean you’ll have to pick an option dealing with rain and condensation. Some options can do this naturally much better than others, but they’ll also need the abovementioned treatments.
The same can be said for warmer climates. If your area gets quite hot, this could impact the shape and size of the cladding you install. Either way, you should consider whether warping will be an issue. With suitable timber cladding, this shouldn’t be an issue.
6. Compatibility with Building Design
Timber cladding can be designed in various ways and made from different types of wood. These factors affect the cladding’s aesthetics and also determine whether or not it matches the building’s current aesthetics.
If you still need to cover the building in cladding, the roof and other exposed areas will be important.
Always ensure the timber cladding you’re considering matches and enhances the current building design. Some options will do this much better than others, helping you narrow your choices. This should be considered right after you consider the aesthetics of the cladding itself.

A Further Step-by-Step Process to Determine the Best Cladding Option for Your Project

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.

Conclusion

If you have a garden building, you’ll want to ensure it looks as lovely as possible. At the same time, you wouldn’t want it to come down because of wear and tear from the elements. This can always be a risk unless you’ve put time and effort into looking after it.

Thankfully, you won’t need to settle for it. It’s just a matter of knowing what to do with it. Picking up some timber cladding and learning how to clad a shed could help. Don’t just go with any cladding you come across, though. Make sure you get the best cladding for your garden building that you can.

It should be simple, even if you haven’t considered timber cladding before. Knowing which factors to focus on when deciding is just a matter of understanding. Some of these matter more than others; they could even depend on personal preferences and your situation. With a little bit of effort, everything should be fine.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) How To Choose Wooden Cladding for Garden Buildings

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  • How thick should the cladding be on my timber garden building?

    The thickness of the cladding (planks of wood) is a significant factor to consider. On some cheap sheds, the walls are only 6mm (1/4 inch) thick. That is less than the thickness of a pencil. To give an idea of how strong (or should I say weak) that is, take a pencil and try to break it. You will find it breaks very easily. Combined with the very thin framing, this cannot be good in anything except the short term. Aim for at least 15mm finished size.
  • Should I use redwood or the cheaper whitewood on timber sheds?

    Redwood is more expensive than whitewood but tends to have tighter grain that the fast-growing white wood and tends to have a waxy feel to the bare wood whereas whitewood is very dry and porous. Any knots present in redwood are normally more stable than white wood. Whitewood has lots of tiny finger size knots which can drop out easily.
  • What Are The Criteria For Selecting A Suitable Cladding?

    When selecting suitable cladding, consider factors such as durability, maintenance requirements, aesthetics, and cost. Assess the material's ability to withstand weather conditions and impacts. Evaluate its long-term performance and resistance to rot, mould, and pests. Additionally, choose a cladding that complements the overall design of the building while staying within budget constraints. Conduct thorough research and consult with industry professionals, such as 1st Choice, to make an informed decision.
  • What Is The British Standard For Timber Cladding?

    The British standard for timber cladding is BS 8605. This standard sets out the requirements for softwood and hardwood cladding boards used in external wall construction. It covers board dimensions, moisture content, preservative treatment, and grading rules. Compliance with BS 8605 ensures that timber cladding products meet the necessary quality and performance criteria for use in the UK construction industry.

About Author:

Robin Antill is an established authority in the field of quality garden building manufacturing, boasting over four decades of experience. Having founded Titan Garden Buildings in 1979, he demonstrated a commitment to excellence from the outset by moving away from subpar materials and embarking on crafting buildings of superior quality.


His lineage of craftsmanship, traced back to his father and grandfather's business in Cleethorpes, underscores his dedication to quality and customer satisfaction. Robin's son, Craig, who joined the business in 1990, brings additional expertise, having honed his skills at Guildford College in joinery.


Together, they elevated Titan Garden Buildings, which eventually evolved into 1st Choice Leisure Buildings. Their enduring focus on premium materials, top-notch manufacturing, and unparalleled customer service, along with Craig's digital acumen in creating the company's online presence, showcase their expertise and reliability in the industry.


Robin’s expertise was featured in Realtor.com, Homes&Gardens, The London Economic, and dozens other publications.


Woking Show Site
1st Choice Leisure Buildings
Woking Garden Buildings Show Site
Sutton Green Garden Centre,
Whitmoor Ln, Sutton Green,
Guildford,
GU4 7QA
Phone 01483 237550