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How to Install Timber Cladding: A Step-by-Step Guide

Timber cladding is a popular choice for homeowners who want to give their home's exterior a natural and unique look. If you're considering adding timber cladding to your home, you might be wondering how it's installed. In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps of installing timber cladding.

Step 1: Measure and Order Your Materials

Before you begin the installation process, you'll need to measure the area you plan to install timber cladding on. It's important to measure accurately, as any mistakes could cause problems down the line. Once you have precise measurements, you can begin to order the appropriate amount of timber for the job. If you are using an architect then they will be able to pull off the m2 from the digital drawings for each elevation you require cladding on.

When selecting timber, it's important to choose a species that is appropriate for your climate and environment. Softwoods like pine are a popular choice for their affordability and ease of installation. Alternatively, hardwoods like Ash, Oak or Iroko will provide a longer lifespan and a unique appearance, but will also cost more. With modern technology maintenance on good quality timber cladding is minimal. If you don't want the timber colour to be affected by the UV sunlight then apply a finish to the surface.

Finally, order any additional materials you will need for the installation process, such as drip cill corner trim, reveals around windows and soffit fascia. Cladding battens are generally 25mm x 38mm wide, Use stainless screws and not nails for the cladding. End grain sealer and touch up should all be part of the ordering process.

Always allow up to 10% extra to cover trimming and mistakes onsite as trying to skimp on this and end up short could be costly if it holds up the project and scaffolding cannot be taken down.

Step 2: Prepare the Surface

Once you have your materials, it's time to prepare the surface where you'll be installing the timber cladding. Preparation is critical to ensuring the cladding is installed correctly and that it will last long-term. Start by thoroughly cleaning the surface and ensuring that it is free of debris. If the surface is uneven, you may need to level it out. Its important that the cladding battens are securely screwed to the substrate and sitting level otherwise any protrusions will be seen when the cladding is fitted. Cladding battens are spaced apart at 400mm centres. If counter battening then the first vertical rows of battens can be spaced apart at 600mm, followed by the horizontal battens at 400mm.

If working with new or unpainted softwood timber, it is important to acclimate the wood to the environment it will be installed in. Leave the timber on-site for several days or weeks to allow it to adapt gradually to the temperature and humidity levels of your area. This will reduce the likelihood of warping after it has been installed.

Step 3: Install the Starter Strip

The starter strip is the first piece of timber cladding that is installed at the bottom of the surface. This ensures that the remaining pieces of cladding are level and straight. To install the starter strip, attach it to the battens using stainless screws or adhesives. Make sure that it is level before proceeding to the next stage.

Step 4: Install the Rest of the Cladding

After the starter strip is installed, you can begin adding the rest of the timber cladding. Use a spirit level to ensure that the board is level before attaching it to the surface using screws.

Continue this process with each subsequent board, making sure that they are level and that the tongue and groove joints are properly aligned. Do not ram the boards tight together, but allow a 2mm gap using a spacer so that if the board expands over the wet winter months, it does not try and push itself out of position. For boards that need to be cut to fit around corners or obstacles, you may need to use a saw or other cutting tool to make precise cuts.

If using shiplap cladding, we recommend starting at the bottom of the wall and working your way up to help shed water better. Feather edge cladding should similarly be fixed at the bottom to take any moisture away from the timber.

If you are cladding around windows and doors try and space out the cladding to avoid having to cut a thin strip of board to fill the gap. It can be useful to have two different width boards for your project which not only adds additional interest but gives you the flexibility to get around openings neatly.

Step 5: Finish the Installation

Once all the cladding has been installed, you may need to add trim pieces to create a finished look. Trim pieces can be installed around doors, windows, and corners to cover any gaps between the cladding and the surface.

Hiring a Professional

While installing timber cladding is a DIY project that many homeowners can handle, it's important to note that it can be a complicated process, and there are some situations where it's best to hire a professional. For example, if you have a large or complicated installation, it may be best to hire a professional who has experience with timber cladding installation.

Working with a professional can also be beneficial if you're unsure about the correct materials for your project, or whether your chosen timber species is suitable for your climate or environment. Professionals should be able to provide advice and help you avoid costly mistakes.

In conclusion, installing timber cladding can be a great way to add natural and unique beauty to your home's exterior. By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your timber cladding is installed correctly and looks great for many years to come.

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