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By Amy Hanlon on 18 Mar 2023

What is the best cladding for a timber garage?


Let’s talk timber cladding for garages. That’s what you’re here to find out about. This article will help you decide what YOUR best looks like, how much it will cost, and whether or not your timber garage can weather decades’ worth of storms without ever letting water in.

When my husband and I started looking for our first home, we were really excited to find a space that belonged only to us (and the bank). We only viewed two houses before we found our forever home. The house we didn’t choose was Victorian, full of elegance and charm, but a tad chilly for our needs. The other thing that really put us off wasn’t actually the house. 

It was the garage. 

An ENORMOUS, two-storey death-trap eyesore of a thing, barely hanging on to the side of the house. It was so rotten and shonky that we couldn’t even go inside to see just how bad things were. I remember thinking, “Why would anyone ever expect a wooden building to stand the test of time? Were they daft or just desperate?”

This was before I started my sheducation, and learned that timber garages are not all doomed to become spooky locations in horror films

In fact, of all the timber buildings I’ve learned about so far, well-built garages are my favourite. Just take a look at this beauty! 

Alt-text: A sage green apex roof single timber garage with a dark blue classic Volkswagen campervan inside.

So let’s get into your sheducation and teach you all about timber garage cladding (among some other things) so you can figure out which one’s right for you.

Sheds Vs Garages: what’s the difference?

Of course, timber garages are not all created equal. Many timber garages on the market are single-skinned, meaning that they are really just big sheds. 

A building regulation-compliant 3-tier wall garage, on the other hand, is just as weatherproof, sturdy, and secure as a concrete garage, and a whole lot better looking. 

So before you make any big expensive decisions about a timber building, make sure you know the differences between sheds and garages, which one you’re looking for, and what you can afford.

Or maybe your heart is already set on a timber garage. You’ve done your research, learned all about what sort of base you need for a garage, and you’re almost ready to get your project started. 

But wait! What about the cladding? 

The cladding on a timber building keeps the water out but also plays a huge part in how your garage will look. What are your options, and which is best?

There are three things you need to consider when choosing timber cladding for a garage:

  1. Budget – how much you want to spend.
  2. Durability – how long it’s going to last.
  3. Appearance – how it’s going to look.

These three factors will largely depend on two main things – the type of timber used and the style of cladding used.

Which type of timber is best for a garage?

The biggest impact on your budget will be the type of timber used for your garage. This will also affect both the durability and the appearance of your building. 

As a good rule of thumb, the harsher the climate that a tree is native to, the more durable the timber will be. 

Think bitter cold, driving snow, buffeting winds, and you’ll have yourself trees that will make a serious garage. Here are some of the available options.

Should you choose whitewood cladding?

The choice between whitewood and redwood is only a real choice if your budget absolutely demands it. It’s the cheapest option for a reason.

We’ve said it before, and I’ll remind you again – Scottish weather is too changeable and wet for whitewood to be used for exterior buildings.

Scottish whitewood, like the Scottish climate, is changeable, unreliable, and can thoroughly ruin your day. 

If whitewood is what you can afford right now, then you need to be aware of one key thing: if your garage is built out of whitewood, even if it has a 3-tier structure, you cannot guarantee that the building will be watertight. In this case, you very much get what you pay for. 

Should you choose redwood cladding?

The next option to consider is redwood. At G&M all our timber buildings are made as standard in Scandinavian Redwood. This is the next price point up from whitewood, and is much more durable. It’s less susceptible to the warping, splitting, and shifting that makes whitewood such a worry. 

Redwood garages must be painted to protect the timber from moisture and sunlight, which means they come in any colour Sadolin can think of. 

Like the climate in Finland, Sweden and Norway, Scandinavian Redwood is hardy, reliable, and predictable.

But what if you have a bit more money (or a lot more money) to spend on your dream garage? 

Should you choose Radiata Pine ThermoWood cladding?

Your next option in terms of price is Radiata Pine ThermoWood. Radiata Pine is a beautiful timber native to California, which is now grown all over the world. But it’s the clever thermal treatment that makes it really special.

There are various different ways to treat timber. Tanalisation or pressure treatment uses chemical processing to protect wood from rot, mould and insect damage. Thermal treatment is an updated process which uses heat and steam. This permanently changes the chemical structure of the timber, making it just as resistant to rot, mould and insect damage. It also reduces the moisture content of the wood, which not only makes it seriously weatherproof, it also prevents any movement or shifting of the timber.

Our ThermoWood comes from Finland, where they perfected the heat and steam treatment in the early 90s. But using heat to treat wood has been around for centuries – like the Japanese Shou Sugi Ban technique.

In terms of appearance, you can paint it, of course, or apply a UV coating to protect it from the sun. If Radiata Pine is UV-protected it stays a gorgeous golden toffee colour. You can also leave the timber exposed to the elements, which weathers it to a silvery-grey tone. Bear in mind that this colour change happens because the outer layer of timber has been broken down. If you want the longest life possible for your building, protect the timber with UV-protective coating

While ThermoWood is a more expensive option (around 5x more expensive than Scandinavian Redwood) the aesthetic value and the added protection from the elements make this a popular choice.

A corner view of a Larch Blackstone Garden Room showing the gable end and a chimney flue.
This is a garden room rather than a garage. But look at the lovely cladding!

Should you choose Western Red Cedar cladding?

Red Cedar is for the seriously extra Sheddie. This timber is 40-50% more expensive than Radiata. While it’s extremely weatherproof, Cedar is a less dense timber than either redwood or Radiata, which does mean that it can sustain scratching or superficial damage more easily. 

Western Red Cedar is grown from Alaska to California in the US, and in British Columbia in Canada. Cedar is the superstar all-rounder that can handle both a cool, moderate climate AND the harsher conditions further north. 

Bear in mind that while Cedar will withstand weather conditions well, it’s less dense than Redwood, which is why superficial damage can occur. The density of wood is a good indicator of its strength and durability, but the denser the wood, the heavier it is. 

Like ThermoWood, Cedar can be painted, treated, or left to weather. The natural colour of the wood is a real selling point for Western Red Cedar. As the name suggests, it has a lustrous reddish tone that will have all the neighbours talking about your gorgeous garage. Weathered Cedar also fades to silver-fox grey if the wood is left untreated. I can’t decide which I prefer – they’re both bonny!

A photo of an apex double garage with Cedar cladding and a grey roller door. 
A sexy Cedar garage. This is the natural colour of the wood.

What will I actually pay for timber cladding?

Why so vague about the numbers? Well, timber prices are affected by all sorts of things and can vary. While this is a good general guide, you should ask your timber garage supplier for exact figures.

Here are the figures for Redwood and Radiata, which let you see the differences in cost. We don’t offer standard pricing for Western Red Cedar, but I’ve added a ballpark figure to give you an idea of how much each building might cost. These prices are for an Apex Single Garage and don’t include garage doors.

SizeRedwoodRadiataCedar (estimate)
4.8m x 3m £9,028.80TBCTBC
4.8m x 3.6m£9,849.60  TBCTBC
5.4m x 3.6m £11,080.80 TBCTBC
5.4m x 5.4m £16,621.20TBCTBC
6m x 3.6m £12,312.00 TBCTBC
6m x 4m £13,680.00TBCTBC
6m x 5m £17.100.00TBCTBC

Which style of timber cladding is best?

This is a tricky category, because, of course, beauty is in the eye of the Shedholder. Thank goodness there are so many possibilities to keep everyone happy.

The most obvious difference is the style of cladding used. Knowing the difference between Shiplap and Tongue and Groove is just the start! We’ve also got Close Board and Strap, Interlocking Log, Loglap and Shadow Gap to consider. 

The combined effect of the timber type, paint (if used), and the profile of the cladding, all add up to your preferred gorgeous garage. 

A labelled graphic of five different timber cladding profiles (shiplap, tongue and groove, loglap tongue and groove, shadow gap tongue and groove and close board and strap) showing the shapes of each.

Shiplap

Shiplap cladding is a pretty good indication that you’re looking at a big shed rather than a garage. You’re also probably looking at a cheaper garage that uses thinner timber, and remember – you get what you pay for. 

Even with a 3-tier structure, shiplap won’t guarantee that your garage stays dry. The overlapping boards are prone to separating, creating gaps in your cladding. And where there are gaps, there’s a way in for water.

Tongue and Groove

Tongue and Groove is the most commonly-used profile of cladding, and it’s really good for keeping your timber building dry. Add a cavity, a breather membrane, and a layer of OSB (“what’s OSB?” I hear you ask) and you’ve got a watertight wonder of a garage. 

If your budget only goes to a single-skinned garage, tongue and groove cladding is the best way to limit the ingress of water. Here you can see the tongue (the part that sticks out) and the groove (the part the tongue fits into.) 😛 These slot together to create wall panels that can take some beating!

Loglap is another type of tongue and groove cladding, which works in exactly the same way, but has a curved surface, so the finished effect looks more like a log cabin-style wall. This is a more watertight option than an actual interlocking log cabin, which has several disadvantages compared to tiered wall buildings.

Tongue and groove shadow gap cladding creates walls where there is a gap between each board, while still staying watertight thanks to the tongue and groove. It’s as sturdy as any other tongue and groove cladding, but has a different appearance.

A photo of a beige-coloured single timber garage on a background of trees.

Close Board and Strap

Close Board and Strap is even more watertight than Tongue and Groove, which is saying something! Here, the timber boards are laid over the frame right next to each other (the close boards) and the join between them is covered by another board (the strap). At G&M we offer Close Board and Strap cladding made of pressure-treated Scandinavian redwood.

Close Board and Strap is a vertical cladding, whereas Shiplap and Tongue and Groove are generally horizontal. This means that with Close Board and Strap rainwater runs down the boards to the ground, with nothing to get in its way and nowhere for water to gather and sit. 

Close Board and Strap does require a higher level of skill and takes longer to install than Tongue and Groove, which adds to its cost. It’s a rustic, traditional style that creates a gorgeous finish. 

Choose Which Garage Cladding is Right For You

A timber garage is a big investment. Done well, it can add real value to your home, as well as provide a beautiful, dry space for you to tinker with engines, tools, creations, or whatever else it is you get up to in there. 

The choices you make before you buy are really important, whether you want seriously foxy Radiata ThermoWood, spendy Cedar or rock-solid Redwood. Whether you’re on Team Tongue and Groove or you’re in Club Close Board and Strap. 

You’re about to make some exciting decisions, Sheddie! If you need any more help with these choices, our Learning Centre has tons of information about all things garage-related. 

Or, if your choices are made and you’re ready to get the garage show on the road, take a look at our Buyer’s Prep Guide. This covers everything you need to know about a garage project, from planning permission rules to groundworks to site access.

Every day’s a school day around here, because knowledge is power. Being informed about your timber building lets you know that you’re making the best choice for you, your needs and your budget. Keep learning, Sheddies!

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