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A Guide To The Wood In Your Shed: Weatherboard, Sarking, Studs & Bearers.

OK, OK, we get it. You’re just not that into wood and timber buildings. Not as much as we are, anyway. All this chat about weatherboard, sarking, framing and bearers is bouncing off you like rain off a steel box profile roof. 

Dammit. I’m doing it again.

To avoid getting lost in ShedLingo, here is a rundown of the types of wood used to build your shed, summerhouse, garage or garden room.

What Is Weatherboard?

Made of machined planks of wood that form a surface designed to let rain run easily over its surface, weatherboard is what makes up the walls of your shed. Scottish sheds encounter a whole lot of rain over their lifetime, so this is a crucial design feature.

It’s the horizontal cladding you see on the outside of sheds, summerhouses, garages and garden rooms. Weatherboard has a tongue-and-groove profile, which means that each piece slots into the next to form a secure, watertight layer of timber.

Take a look at this weatherboard wall:

The unique pattern of waves and grooves helps water run off the surface and avoids any hollows or notches where water can gather. It’s all very clever!

As well as the profile shape of the weatherboard, the thickness of the cladding is also important. Anything under 16mm is too flimsy for a long-lasting timber building.  Anything thicker than 20mm will be susceptible to movement and contraction, which allows water and draughts into your building.

What is sarking?

While there are various different definitions of sarking depending on where you are in the world, in our sheds, sarking is the wood that forms the inner layer of the roof of your timber building. 

Laid on top of the sarking to protect it from the weather is your roofing material – shingles, felt or steel.

In a high-quality shed, the sarking will be tongue and groove timber – hopefully Scandinavian redwood. In a lower-quality shed sheets of OSB may be used instead. Since OSB is made of processed wood fibres held together with glue, it soaks up water very easily, and if it does get wet it swells. This is why we don’t recommend OSB as a roofing material.

What are studs?

The studs on this Kindrogan summerhouse really highlight the design of the building. While the weatherboard cladding is horizontal, studs, or framing runs vertically. You’ll notice that the timber used for the framing is much thicker than the cladding. That’s because the frame literally keeps the building up!

Studs, or framing, include the vertical timbers that form the wall, the timber that makes up the roof frame and the floor joists underneath the floor. The thickness of the framing used is one of the main differences between a shoddy shed and a solid shed. 

Take a look at the inside of this Apex Shed to see exactly where everything fits in. Weatherboard for the walls. Sarking for the roof. Framing for the walls and roof. 

What are bearers?

Bearers are planks of 2” by 4” timber, laid on the base before putting down the shed floor. As their name suggests, they bear the weight of the shed. 

They are the same length as your building, run at 90° to the floor joists (the framing under the floor) and help to support the floor. 

Bearers also allow air to circulate under your shed to prevent moisture build-up. 

Bearers are only visible at the edges of your shed or summerhouse, but they’re there! You will see their ends spaced regularly along the edges of the building.

What do I need to know about the wood in my timber building?

The next time you talk to a Sheddie, whether they’re showing off their summerhouse or just shooting the Shed breeze, you’ll be well-equipped to follow their chat.

And the next time you’re buying a timber building, ask the sales team how thick the framing and cladding are, what type of sarking they use, and whether bearers are supplied as standard. Better yet, take along our Shed or Summerhouse Buyer’s Checklist to make sure that you’re getting value for money, and a shed you can talk about for decades to come.

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