Using Cedar Shingles in Building Design

Used for hundreds of years, cedar shingles have proven their durability in all kinds of climates. They are becoming a staple building material in an architect’s arsenal due to the properties and the visual aesthetics they offer.

Cedar shingles can be used to cover a whole building, a roof or to create a feature wall/façade. They can also contribute to creating a traditional, rustic or modern look.

The warm, rich colour and texture of cedar shingles means they instantly bring buildings to life and create unrivalled character.

This article aims to explore the use of cedar shingles in building design and offer tips and tricks for using them. For help in buying cedar shingles and other timber cladding, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at NORclad. Our team of experts are on hand to help you get started and make the most out of the best timber cladding available in the UK.

What are Cedar Shingles?

Timber shingles are thin pieces of wood used to cover a roof or wall. Shingles operate in the same way as cladding, being fixed back to timber battens – Shingles just offer a different way of finishing the exterior of a building.

Canadian Western Red Cedar is the most popular choice of species used to manufacture singles due to its properties.  The thin pieces of wood are arranged in a way that creates square or rectangular wooden rows.

Shingle roofs have a rich history and have been used all over the world as a roofing material. Different cultures and regions created very different shingles, such as varying sizes, shapes, designs and installation.

A shake is a basic wooden shingle made from split logs. It is a type of wooden shingle but offers slightly different appearances and properties. Shakes are likely to provide a more rustic appearance but also offer a high standard building material. In comparison to modern shingles that are often sawn cut, shakes are typically split at either one or both ends. They tend to be much thicker too (which often gives them the more rustic appearance).

Here at NORclad, we offer Canadian Western Red Cedar Blue Label shingles so check this page out if you’re looking to use cedar shingles. We can also explain everything you need to know about shingles and shakes so you feel confident when buying them.

Benefits of Using Cedar Shingles

Cedar shingles are naturally a very good insulating building material. This means they are perfect at contributing to low carbon emission buildings due to less heating/cooling requirements. They are also very durable and can be used in any region – buildings in both hot and cold climates have traditionally used this form of building material.

Cedar specifically is a low-density wood which means there is minimal shrinkage over time. This means the shingles can be installed confidently, knowing they will hold and maintain their shape and structure. Cedar also offers a wood that is durable yet easy to work with. This means they will last the test of time, but also means installation isn’t too difficult.

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Tips for Using Cedar Shingles

One of the biggest benefits of cedar shingles is their versatility and ability to add instant character to a building. This means carefully planning the visual composition and layout of the shingles is certainly worthwhile. Understanding how the shingles will be used alongside other building materials or with the surrounding environment will ensure you create a building that creates the “wow” factor.

Depending on the slope of a roof, or the surrounding materials, different thicknesses, sizes or even shapes may offer a better finish. This is why it is always worth consulting with a timber specialist before buying shingles or cladding to ensure you get the most out of using any wood on a project.

Cedar shingles will initially have a rich and warm colour. The natural effects of ageing and weathering give shingles and shakes an attractive silvery grey colour over time. Depending on the desired character of the building, you may wish to treat or stain the shingles to create a certain look and feel.

Cedar shingles can be installed all year round and the properties of the timber mean it is relatively easy to work with. It is lightweight and takes nails and onsite sawing very well. Nevertheless, shingles should be installed correctly and to the highest standard to avoid any ongoing problems.

When installing cedar shingles, a gap (referred to as a “key”) should be left between each shingle. The size can vary depending on desired appearance but is likely to be somewhere in the region of ¼ inch. You also want to ensure the visible area of the shingle remains the same for the whole building, otherwise it may look messy (even for a “rustic” building). Like any tiling or roofing, the shingle laid on top of the previous one should cover up the nails and part of the previous shingle, creating a really professional looking finish.

As with most work with timber, using stainless steel nails will avoid any rusting or staining to the wood.

You’ll also want to think carefully about detailing around windows, doors or other parts of a wall, that may impact how the cedar shingles are installed.

If you’re feeling adventurous, like brickwork, you can put patterns within the cedar shingles to create unique visual appearances for a roof or wall.

Learn More with NORclad

If you’d like to learn more about using cedar shingles or timber cladding on your next building project, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at NORclad.

We are a specialist manufacturer of wood cladding with over 40 years of experience.

We work closely with architects and builders to help source and supply the very best timber cladding and shingle products. We supply a range of leading wood cladding solutions, with superb environmental credentials and insulation properties to protect buildings from varying climatic conditions.

Get in a quote for your project today or simply get in touch to learn more about what we do.

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