5 timber cladding trends for 2023: specification tips

Architectural Liaison Technician

As a leading supplier of timber cladding, we are at the forefront of trends surrounding timber cladding in the UK construction industry.  As a member of the Russwood’s Architectural Liaison Team, I guide prospective clients on using the perfect product for their building plans. Current trends include fins, batten-style cladding, charred-look cladding, SiOO:X coatings and alternatives to Siberian Larch and Western Red Cedar. In this blog, I will share some insights and considerations to help you make the right choices when specifying any of these current timber cladding trends.

Fins - one of the timber cladding trends for 2023. Project featured is Thermopine® Cladding Factory Coated with SiOO:X | Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society
Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society | Thermopine® Coated with SiOO:X

1. Fins

Protruding cladding boards – or fins – are one our most requested cladding solutions, and it’s easy to see why, as they offer the ability to create interesting cladding patterns with incredible depth. The most important factors to consider with fin sections are the size of the section, fixing method and stability of the material used.

We recommend using a thicker section (32mm+) in a modified species, as this will help add overall stability to the fin. The enhanced stability will help ensure the fin performs well and can withstand potential live loads such as wind.

Lunawood Collection Luna SHP profiles, which come in large sizes of 42×68/92/140mm are ideal for use as fins, due to the thicker section size and increased stability of the thermally modified Scots Pine. Constructed from the same species, our Thermopine® cladding pairs great with these sections if a board + fin arrangement is desired.

If there are fire performance requirements for your project, the Lunawood Collection Luna Panel System, which is a tongue and groove profile, can be treated with the Burnblock fire retardant to achieve up to Euroclass B-s1, d0, while achieving a board + fin aesthetic.

2. Batten-style cladding

A modern alternative to traditional open rainscreen cladding, batten style cladding comprises narrow boards with larger gaps between them, creating a visually striking, contemporary look to your building.

Again, modified timbers work best for this cladding style due to their enhanced stability and reduced movement. While we can provide custom sizes for battens in most species, it is worth noting that the outermost face should be a minimum of 32mm width to avoid any potential splitting when face fixing.

Our Thermopine® battens, available in various sizes, are ideal for vertical and horizontal arrangements. Our 42x42mm or 45x20mm battens are a great solution for vertical arrangements, and our 41/46x42mm sloped horizontal batten are the perfect solution for horizontals; with the sloped edge of the batten allowing great water runoff and performance.

For fire performance compliance, consider Lunawood Luna Triple, which achieves Euroclass B-s1, d0 when coated with Burnblock treatment while maintaining a batten-style appearance with recessed shadow gaps in a closed tongue and groove system.

Batten-style cladding - one of the timber cladding trends for 2023. Casa Montaña | Lunawood Collection | Neoblock Modular
Casa Montaña | Lunawood Collection | Neoblock Modular
Charred look cladding one of the timber cladding trends for 2023.
Kurowood® finished with Teknos RAL 9005 Jet Black Paint

3. Charred-look cladding

Inspired by the traditional Japanese ‘Yakisugi’, charred timber cladding is a popular timber cladding trend among architects.

Due to performance concerns, Russwood do not supply or recommend the use of charred cladding. This is because charring damages the surface of the board, resulting in flaking which will compromise the overall appearance. Additionally, charred cladding will require costly and potentially difficult maintenance.

Our solution is Kurowood® cladding, a hot embossed Thermopine® finished with Teknos RAL 9005 Jet Black paint to achieve the same aesthetic appearance of charred cladding, without the performance downsides. Our opaque paint coatings last approximately 5-7 years before recoating is required, dependent on the species and a number of external factors, and maintenance is a much simpler, cheaper, task.

The same aesthetic, but longer lasting and with less maintenance. This one’s a no brainer for us.

4. Low-maintenance coating

Another thing we see often, especially in large scale projects such as Escapade Silverstone, is the desire for a low maintenance cladding solution. While leaving cladding uncoated would give the least maintenance in theory, this can often result in uneven weathering due to overhangs, sharp angles and wall orientation. The use of the SiOO:X coatings eliminates this worry and gives a uniform weathered appearance that requires very little maintenance over the course of its 10-15 year lifespan.

SiOO:X comes in a clear option as well as pigmented Mid Grey and Light Grey options to suit the desired aesthetic. Unlike most other coatings, SiOO:X impregnates the surface of the board, meaning it can be used on a greater variety of species with excellent performance and an extremely low maintenance cycle.

When the coatings do eventually wear off after this period, the change is also not as stark as it would be with other higher maintenance coatings, as the coating allows the timber to naturally weather behind it, meaning that the cladding will gradually fade from a matte grey tone to the familiar silvery grey tone of weathered cladding. We offer a range of SiOO:X products on our Online Shop such as a Wood Protection Maintenance Wash for cleaning of SiOO:X treated surfaces.

Escapade Silverstone | Lunawood with SiOO:X Light Grey | Twelve Architects | David Barbour Photography
Escapade Silverstone | Lunawood with SiOO:X Light Grey | Twelve Architects | David Barbour Photography
Cardrona Cabin, New Zealand | Abodo Vulcan Vertical Grain | Chris Lea Photography
Cardrona Cabin, New Zealand | Abodo Vulcan Vertical Grain | Chris Lea Photography

5. Alternative timbers

Right now, we’re receiving a lot of enquiries about suitable alternatives for Siberian Larch, which has been in short supply since the beginning of Russia Ukraine war. We also still see enquiries for Western Red Cedar, something we no longer supply due to sustainability concerns with old growth timber.

Abodo® Vulcan is a great alternative solution to both, with the Abodo® Vulcan Flatsawn having attractive flame figuring similar to that of Siberian Larch, and the Abodo® Vulcan Vertical Grain being a great alternative to either vertical grain Siberian Larch, or Western Red Cedar, due to its extremely clear grade and workability.

Regardless if using the Flatsawn or Vertical Grain, the Abodo® Vulcan offers superior performance over both the Siberian Larch and Western Red Cedar. As a thermally modified Radiata Pine from New Zealand, the material is carbon-neutral, highly renewable, has exceptional stability and is classified under BS EN 350 as durability class 1. This is the highest durability class possible for timber, beating the durability classes of both Siberian Larch (class 3) and Western Red Cedar (class 2).

The material is also extremely versatile, and suitable for all the trends mentioned above, with custom larger sections available for fins, thin boards suitable for batten style cladding, compatible with our Kurowood® finishes for a charred appearance and is suitable for use with our SiOO:X coatings for a translucent, weathered, appearance.

Whatever look you are striving to achieve, we are more than happy to offer advice on the best timber selection and fixings for your project. Get in touch with our Architectural Liaison Team today.

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