Open rainscreen timber cladding: exploring the key advantages

Architectural Liaison Technician

In recent years, open rainscreen timber cladding has rapidly gained traction in the construction world. While several factors need to be considered when deciding if an open rainscreen is right for your project, it can be an excellent option for your wall or roof cladding. In contrast to profiles like shiplap, board on board or tongue and groove, open rainscreen cladding boards are not connected, allowing for a whole host of benefits. These include enhanced moisture management, economic benefits and simplified maintenance, all of which our Architectural Liaison Technician Fraser Hourston, will discuss in this blog.

What is open rainscreen timber cladding?

Open rainscreen timber cladding is a cladding system that consists of arranging timber boards with intentional gaps between them. This design allows air to circulate behind the cladding, effectively managing moisture and promoting ventilation. The gaps prevent water from being trapped, which helps to extend the life of the timber and improve the overall durability and performance of the building. This system not only provides functional benefits but also offers a modern and visually appealing aesthetic for various architectural styles.

Abodo Vulcan Vertical Grain cladding on the Cardrona cabin in an open rainscreen cladding arrangement.
Abodo Vulcan® Vertical Grain open rainscreen cladding | Cardrona Cabin | Simon Devitt Photography
SILA Select® Cladding planed to RW014 profile in an open rainscreen design | Icosis Architects
SILA Select® Cladding planed to RW014 profile | Icosis Architects

Suitability of open rainscreen timber cladding

We offer an open rainscreen option in all of our cladding species. The 8mm gaps between the boards accommodate the natural movement of the timber, making it ideal for species that aren’t suitable for traditional tongue and groove profiles. The gaps also allow the boards to fully dry between wetting cycles, making open rainscreens suitable for both wall and roof cladding, provided there is waterproofing installed behind the cladding.

Economic benefits of choosing an open rainscreen arrangement

Open rainscreen timber cladding offers significant economic advantages. Unlike overlapping closed profiles, such as board-on-board or tongue and groove, open rainscreens have little to no overlap between boards. This means you need less timber to cover the same area, resulting in higher coverage per square meter. Consequently, this efficiency makes open rainscreens a more cost-effective option, reducing material costs while still providing a high-quality, durable cladding solution.

Scotlarch factory coated with SiOO:X Mid Grey, 150x22 Open Rainscreen | Joanna Elliot Interiors | Matthew Heritage Photography
Scotlarch® factory coated with SiOO:X Mid Grey, 150×22 Open Rainscreen | Joanna Elliot Interiors | Matthew Heritage Photography
Brushed Thermopine® Cladding in profile RW014 (an open rainscreen timber cladding arrangement) and Thermopine® (73x20mm) coated black.
Brushed Thermopine® Cladding in profile RW014 and Thermopine® coated black | Loader Monteith Architects

Use of the RW014 profile

Russwood’s RW014 profile is specifically designed for open rainscreens, offering versatile installation options. Its unique parallelogram shape allows it to be used both horizontally and vertically, adapting to various design requirements. The sloped edge creates a shadow gap effect, which effectively hides the substructure and gives the cladding a sleek, closed panel appearance while retaining all the benefits of an open rainscreen system.

Ability to secret-fix open rainscreen timber cladding systems

For a clean, fixing-free appearance, open rainscreen timber cladding can be secret fixed using the FassadenClip®. This method is suitable for both vertical and horizontal installations, with board widths ranging from 57mm to 95mm. The FassadenClip® creates an open shadow gap, enhancing the aesthetic while keeping the front face of the cladding free of visible fixings. This not only improves the visual appeal but also increases the lifespan of any coatings applied to the timber, as there are no exposed fixings to disrupt the surface.

Scotlarch® sawn boards used vertically | Oberlanders Architects
Scotlarch® sawn boards used vertically | Oberlanders Architects
Scotlarch® cladding in an open rainscreen arrangement |The Seed by Kirsty Macguire Architects

Easy repair and replacement

One of the key advantages of open rainscreen timber cladding is the ease of repair and replacement. Since there is no overlap between the boards, any damaged sections can be swiftly and easily replaced without disturbing the surrounding cladding. We strongly recommend using screw fixing for your cladding, as this makes the process of removing and replacing individual boards even simpler. For more detailed guidance on installation and maintenance, including best practices for fixing, be sure to check out Roxana’s comprehensive blog on timber open rainscreen cladding. This resource provides valuable insights to ensure your cladding project is both durable and aesthetically pleasing.

Open rainscreen timber cladding offers numerous advantages, including suitability for various timber species, economic benefits, ease of repair and a clean appearance with secret fixing options. This innovative system can transform buildings into durable, energy-efficient, and visually striking structures.

For more information or to discuss cladding options, Russwood’s Architectural Liaison Team will be happy to assist in selecting the perfect cladding solution for your next project. You can also book a CPD and learn about the wonderful applications in which you can specify Russwood timber.

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