How to Install Timber Cladding
We often get asked how timber cladding is installed. Although each project is unique and the details will vary from build to build, we’ve outlined some general guidelines to help showcase the process for getting timber cladding installed.
Timber cladding is much easier to work with than other building materials, and as a result, you can progress much quicker with a build. Timber cladding allows you to dream up intricate designs and shapes as it can be cut and shaped to your preference.
Whether you’re looking to install horizonal cladding or vertical cladding, the installation process is easier than other materials. This helps keep costs down and allow builders to complete projects faster.
Understanding the process of installing timber cladding will help with managing the project and ensuring everything runs smoothly. Here at NORclad, we’ve had over 35 years of experience creating and installing amazing timber cladding projects. We want to share as much as possible with you to help ensure you can get the most out of timber cladding.
If you want to know how to fit exterior cladding, you’re in the right place. In this timber cladding installation guide, we highlight some tips and recommendations to help you get the most out of the material. From cladding positioning, to fixings, we outline each step to help you gain an understanding of what it takes to clad a home or building.
Getting Started & Preparing Cladding
Picking a Timber Species
The first step in our timber cladding installation guide is to pick a timber species that is suited to the project. Different species of timber will look and behave differently. Depending on the project, this will mean certain timbers are more suited than others.
This is a very important part of the process so if you are unsure which species to pick, make sure you contact us for help.
Timber species will impact the appearance, durability, colour, grain, and longevity so it will heavily impact the overall project.
Another decision to be made before you actually start installing the cladding is deciding what profile to use. This will not only influence the way the cladding looks and behaves, but will also impact the installation process.
Some cladding profiles are easier to install than others. Cladding profiles all have their advantages and one will be more suited to your project than others.
For a full breakdown in each cladding profile, talk to one of our experts who can guide you in the right direction or visit our cladding profile guide.
Timber Treatment and Acclimatising
Timber is a natural material and as such will respond to the environment. All timber will swell and shrink as moisture is absorbed and lost from the timber. This is a natural process as the timber seeks to acclimatise and reach equilibrium moisture content with the surrounding environment. This depends on the location of the build. For example, timber used on the south-west coast will respond to the environment differently to timber used in the Scottish Highlands.
It is vital that the timber has fully acclimatised before it is installed. This prevents the timber from changing size when it is installed and thus causing issues. We have further information available.
Our range of timber cladding, including pressure treated and untreated products are not dried prior to delivery. This means they require time to acclimatise when they reach site. Store the timber in a dry, cool place with good ventilation through the package (remove wrappers), to allow the timber to acclimatise.
It’s always worth checking the timber measurements and overall products before installation. You don’t want to be almost finished and find you’re short of a few pieces of timber. As the old expression goes, “measure twice, cut once.”
You’ll need to think about site storage for the timber cladding. Keep the cladding out of direct sunlight, water saturation, snow, ice, and other elements. The timber should be kept off the ground with good polythene wrapping over the top of a package and ideally lots of natural air flow.
As well as site storage, you’ll need want to have a building management plan, including timescales and individual roles. This is a good time to talk with architects or builders about bringing the initial designs and ideas to life. This is also the last moment to make any changes. You don’t want to be half way through the installation and decide you want to make a design change.
Timber Cladding Installation Process
Once you’ve selected your timber species, profile and got the site prepared for installation, it’s time to fit and fix the cladding boards to the building. The chosen profile will largely influence how the individual cladding boards fit together, and consequently impact the installation of the cladding.
The installation process for timber cladding should be carried out by a professional. Although we can offer suggestions and guidelines here, for optimal results, it would be recommended that an expert should install the cladding to ensure it fits together perfectly.
Timber cladding is usually designed for horizontal use. Only certain profiles are recommended for vertical use so ensure you have checked this before you start.
Cladding panels should be installed by attaching to backing structure battens as detailed by the architect. Each panel should also be individually fixed.
All NORclad products must be fixed using Stainless Steel grade 304 fixings. This ensures for a quality finish. We recommended annular ring shank nails with a flat head. Lost/ small head fixings are not recommended for timber cladding projects.
The fixing should sit flush to the board surface. Fixing the nails to the timber by hand is recommended. This ensures there is no overdriven nails that could cause splitting or visible damage to the panels.
There are two types of fixing you can use to install timber cladding; face fix or secret fix.
Face Fix – We recommend nails are fixed through the thickest part of the cladding, with each board fixed independently. This applies to any profile width over 100 mm.
Secret Fix – For our secret fix profiles, a single fixing can be used through the bevel line. This applies to any profile width up to 100 mm.
When installing the first board on each elevation, this will require face fixing.
Timber cladding installation will vary slightly depending on the primary wall structure. Each project will need an expert to examine the bespoke nature of the project but below is a general guide for each type of wall.
External Wall – To clad an external wall, you need to attach battens to the wall and subsequently fix the cladding to these battens.
Timber Frame Wall – To clad a timber frame wall, you need to attach the battens to studs in the wall. You can then subsequently fix the cladding to these battens. You’ll also want to ensure there is a breather membrane to allow for airflow.
Cavity Wall – To clad a cavity wall, you need to attach the battens with plug and screw. You can then fix the cladding to the battens.
Understanding the wall structure and the nature of the building can ensure that moisture and water vapour are dealt with effectively and don’t impact the timber cladding.
The finish around different wall features, such as windows, doors, corners, and flashing will be vital for creating a professional finish. You’ll want to pick features that go well with the cladding and this is something to discuss with your architect.
Not only are these features important for the appearance of the final build, but it’s also important in ensuring water runoff is effective and there aren’t any gaps for water/dirt to get behind the cladding.
You’ll want to use high performance caulking to seal any gaps around windows or doors.
Timber Cladding Maintenance
If cladding is to be coated onsite, it is recommended to do this before installation.
If timber cladding is treated, protected and installed properly, it can last the test of time. It is certainly worth ensuring you know how to treat and look after the timber so it is well maintained. The choice of timber species will also impact this.
Some species also change colour as they age so bare this in mind when thinking about what you want the building to look like in years to come.
NORclad Timber Cladding
Hopefully this guide has helped demonstrate the general process for installing timber cladding. For more information, use our resource section to find more detailed plans and resources.
For help bringing your ideas and visions to life, make sure you get in contact and let us show you all that’s possible with timber cladding.