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!
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:
- Budget – how much you want to spend.
- Durability – how long it’s going to last.
- 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 Siberian Larch cladding?
Your next option in terms of price is Siberian Larch. Larch is 50% harder than Redwood, and generally 40-50% more expensive than redwood. You’re paying more because this is seriously durable, beautiful timber. It’s strong and extremely resistant to warping and splitting
Siberian Larch is NAILS. Anything that can withstand the climate in a region that is a watchword for freezing, desolate wastelands is pretty hard-wearing.
In terms of appearance, you could paint it, of course, or apply a UV coating to protect it from the sun. If Larch is UV-protected it stays a gorgeous golden toffee colour. But many people prefer to leave the timber exposed to the elements, which weathers it to a silvery-grey tone.
It is important to remember that Siberia is of course in Russia, which means that Siberian Larch is a difficult timber to source right now, which adds to its cost and may even mean that this option isn’t available. Speak to your timber building supplier for up-to-date information about this situation.
Should you choose Western Red Cedar cladding?
Red Cedar is for the seriously extra Sheddie. This timber is 40-50% more expensive than Larch. While it’s extremely weatherproof, Cedar is a less dense timber than either redwood or Larch, 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 Larch, 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 Larch, 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!
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.
Our Garage Price List has figures for Redwood and Larch, which lets 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.
|4.8m x 3m (16’ x 10’)||£5,829||£8,597||£11,400|
|4.8m x 3.6m(16’ x 12’)||£7,115||£10,336||£13,600|
|5.4m x 3m (18’ x 10’)||£6,671||£9,722||£12,800|
|5.4m x 3.6m (18’ x 12’)||£8,005||£11,566||£15,200|
|6m x 3m (20’ x 10’)||£7,416||£10,651||£14,300|
|6m x 4m (20’ x 13’12’’)||£10,056||£14,336||£18,700|
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.
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.
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 Siberian Larch, 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!