Comparison Between Timber Cladding and Fibre Cement Cladding

Cladding is the process of coating one building material with another, such as attaching a layer to the exterior of the house for reasons related to safety, aesthetics, or function.

Cladding is usually available in a range of materials, but there are two popular options that most homeowners prefer. In this post, we will be discussing the two prominent types of cladding – Timber Cladding and Fibre Cement Cladding, and how they are different from each other in many aspects.

With the two cladding types, the homeowners get plenty of options to choose from such as installation methods, finishes, sizes, colours, and textures among others.

Timber cladding is the traditional type whereas, fibre cement cladding is a more contemporary approach.

Fibre cement weatherboards and timber weatherboards are widely used in residential as well as commercial buildings; however, their finish quality is different.

Both the types vary in every department, including the cost.

Let’s highlight some of the main points and take a look at what separates these two types of cladding.

We will be differentiating timber cladding and fibre cement cladding based on the following variables:

• Installation
• Cladding Categorisation
• Performance
• Aesthetics
• Safety Characteristics

timber cladding vs fibre cement cladding

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What is fibre cement cladding?

Fibre cement cladding is produced by mixing fibres, fillers, and cellulose with water. After that, concrete is mixed to form wet sheets. The wet sheets are then pressed and rolled to remove excess moisture. The sheets remain pliable for a short period after their formation; hence, they can be shaped and restructured into any form such as small tiles to planks, and even large-format panels.

In order to achieve a specific aesthetic, the finished products are either painted, through-coloured or left to develop a natural patina. This helps in reducing the risk of chips, scuffs, and visible scratches developing over time.

However, the disadvantage is that you will be relatively limited in terms of textures and palettes. Composite weatherboard cladding is an economical and attractive way to finish the exterior of buildings.

What is timber cladding?

Timber cladding is produced using long strips of softwood or hardwood timber and affixing them to the interior or exterior walls. Timber cladding can be laid in any direction – horizontally, diagonally, or vertically. Timber cladding can be used for creating a feature wall or for covering the entire structure – the possibilities are endless.

Many different species of softwood and hardwood are suitable for timber cladding because of their natural resistance to decay.

However, the most considerable disadvantage of timber cladding is that they are not fireproof as wood is a flammable material. However, with advancement in technology, fire retardant coatings can be applied.

Installation

Timber cladding and fibre cement cladding are more popular than ever. With the introduction of the latest tools and equipment, installing them has never been so easy. Today, they are mechanically fixed with clips, screws, or nails.

With that said, the installation procedures of both cladding types are somewhat the same. However, some differences make them stand apart from each other in terms of installation.

Installation of timber cladding

Timber cladding is generally designed for horizontal use; however, specific profiles can be recommend for vertical use. The cladding panels are installed by attaching to the backing structure battens.

Only stainless steel (304 grade) fixings are recommended for fixing the cladding. Regarding fasteners/fixing, the professionals recommend annular ring sank nails with a flat head. There are two types of fixings when it comes to the installation of timber cladding – face fix and secret fix. The face fix is used for fixing the thickest part of the wood where each wooden board is fixed separately. Secret fix, on the other hand, is for fixing any profile width up to 100 mm.

The installation of timber cladding varies slightly depending on the wall structure. For external walls, the battens are attached to the wall, and the exterior cladding boards are fixed to these battens.

For timber frame walls, the battens are attached to the studs in the wall, and for cavity walls, the battens are attached with plugs and screws.

Installation of fibre cement cladding

Installing fibre cement cladding is a similar story, though there are some crucial differences from timber wood cladding. For starters, the fibre cement board cladding is always cut upside down to get the cleanest lines. In most cases, the fibre cement cladding boards can be purchased ready to install in a whole host of stains and colours.

However, if there is no primer and paint applied on the board, the boards need to be primed and painted on site before installation. This is not required with timber cladding so it makes timber cladding the winner in terms of speedier fitting if the fibre cement cladding is not primed and painted on arrival.

With that said, its installation is very similar to timber cladding. The fibre cement cladding is installed from the bottom up when using horizontal lap application. Galvanised cladding nails are used for fixing concrete cladding boards. The best part about fibre cement cladding is that they can be installed over foam insulation as well. When the cladding is completely installed, the vertical gaps are caulked between the trim and cladding.

Cladding Categorisation

Timber cladding and fibre cement cladding comes in numerous shapes and colours that make a project a unique one.

There are different types of concrete board cladding and wood cladding panels manufactured in a heavy-duty industry process and based on the type of the building or structure, each type is recommended.

In simple words, it depends on the project whether fibre cement or timber cladding will be used to give the desired look to the structure, which is stylish and unique.There are plenty of fibre cement and timber cladding manufacturers and suppliers who supply each type according to your specific demands.

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Timber Cladding Categorisation

There are primarily three types of wooden exterior cladding boards available, and you need to choose according to the type of the project.

1. Horizontal Boards: The horizontal boards are the most popular type of boards that are inclined at 0° to the structure

2. Vertical Boards: The vertical boards are inclined at 90° to horizontal to the building structure

3. Diagonal Boards: The diagonal boards inclined at 45° to the horizontal as well as vertical boards

Different types of timbers available in the market-

– European Redwood

European redwood is the most popular timber for timber cladding. Redwood cladding can be used to give style to both exterior and interior walls of a structure.

This type of timber comes with a little yellowish shade and is remarkably light in colour. European redwood, however, can get affected by unfavourable temperature and weather conditions. Hence, this type of timber cladding should be chosen only after checking the weather conditions of the area.

Nevertheless, European redwood is a high-quality timber to be used in the interiors of the structure.

– Western Red Cedar

Western red cedar is considered the strongest of all the wood cladding, offering a durable solution to the homeowners’ cladding requirements. This is the reason why western red cedar is used in most timber cladding projects.

The cedar cladding texture and finish make it an excellent choice for cladding. Due to its many benefits, red cedar cladding can come a little on the expensive side compared to other types of timber cladding. According to the manufacturers and suppliers, cedar cladding can easily withstand unfavourable weather conditions with a lifespan of over 60 years.

Choosing this type of timber cladding is considered a one-time investment, as there will be no need for replacing the cladding over and over again.

– Siberian Larch

Another durable timber with the sapwood omitted. It is a slow grown high density, softwood with a colour that ranges from a light straw yellow to a gold/brown in the heartwood area. We have 3 Different Grades Available A+, A & B Grades.

– British Larch

Indigenous timber which grows in various parts of Britain. It gives an improved carbon footprint to local projects and developments over Siberian Larch.

Compared to Siberian Larch, British grown Larch is typically warmer in appearance having a rich heartwood colour, it has a greater number of knots and perhaps more grain character.

timber cladding

Fibre Cement Cladding Categorisation

There are different types of cement fibre board cladding available in the market, and with brands innovating new styles and types, you can choose from a large array in our catalogue.

The following are the most popular types of fibre cement cladding used on homes and other structures.

– Cembrit Cemsix

Cembrit Cemsix is a fully compressed fibre cement sheet which uses the traditional 6 inch profile.

Cembrit Cemsix has been used on the exteriors of agricultural buildings for many years but recently there has been a demand for its use on residential buildings too.

Having proven itself in the agricultural setting, you can rest assured that with Cembrit Cemsix you will have a very durable cladding with it expected to far exceed the 30 year minimum guarantee the manufacturer gives with this specific product.

– Horizontal Lap Cladding

Dutch or horizontal lap cladding is probably the most common type of fibre cement cladding used for residential structures. Horizontal lap cladding involves long cladding that is thicker at the bottom than it is at the top. This type of fibre cement cladding is installed from the bottom up with each subsequent panel overlapping the previous one.

The horizontal lap cladding is available in a wide range of widths, ranging between 5-13 inch wide panels. On the other hand, the edges of this cladding can also be beaded or completely straight.

– Shiplap Cladding

Shiplap fibre cement lap cladding, unlike horizontal lap cladding, has boards that appear to be pushed right up against one another. The shiplap cladding is typically installed using a tongue and groove system, creating a smooth, clean surface.

This type of fibre cement cladding is common seen on contemporary structures and homes.

– Vertical Cladding

Homeowners looking for a rustic board-and-batten look always prefer vertical cladding. It offers a cleaner look with minimalist lines.

– Soffit

Soffit fibre cement cladding is available in a non-vented and vented style that neither warps nor rots. This functionality of soffit panels makes it easier to coat the underside of the structures. Soffit cladding allows for better airflow throughout the building.

Fibre Cement Cladding

Performance

Due to differences in the product composition, the performance of fibre cement cladding and timber cladding dramatically varies. There are numerous aspects based on which the performance of these two cladding types can be reviewed and differentiated.

– Thermal Insulation

Thermal insulation is a critical aspect of any type of cladding. When considering fibre cement cladding, you should know that cement fibre cladding has a very low R-value. Hence, the manufacturers supplement the fibre cement with additional insulation in order to improve its thermal insulation.

Most brands and manufacturers offer thermal breakage products that are integrated with the fibre cement cladding to prevent heat loss through the structure envelope. Hence, when considering fibre cement cladding for your home or building, you need to tell your manufacturer about the minimum R-value that your building requires.

Timber cladding, on the other hand, is a naturally insulating material, making an excellent choice for people living in cold weather conditions. Timber contains cellular structure allowing the formation of air pockets that act as a natural barrier against cold and heat.

According to the manufacturers, lightweight timber cladding is an excellent insulator overall as thermal conductivity increases with density. However, thermal conductivity will vary with residual deposits and moisture content in the timber.

Cladding designed with a focus on energy efficiency through lightweight timber cladding can significantly contribute to minimising non-renewable energy use and maximising comfort.

– Moisture Protection

Moisture protection is another point to consider when looking for cladding for your home. When it comes to moisture protection in fibre cement cladding, it is not well-equipped to shield a structure against moisture penetration.

However, the manufacturers incorporate the fibre cement cladding with backer boards and other underlay materials that not only enhances the entire building’s moisture withstanding capabilities but improves the overall durability of the cladding as well.

Backer boards and other underlay materials reduce water intrusion while enabling water vapour to escape. This keeps moisture from entering the walls of the building.

As compared to fibre cement cladding, timber cladding has reduced moisture withstanding ratings. This is because timber easily absorbs moisture due to the presence of air pockets. Hence, timber cladding needs to be treated with preservatives. Using preservatives can degrade the timber’s sustainability factor.

However, timber cladding like larch cladding, redwood cladding, and cedar cladding among others are naturally resistant to rot, moisture, and insects. Fir, pine, and spruce have to be treated with preservatives such as boron. These timber cladding woods are cheaper compared to cedar, larch, and redwood.

– Acoustic Insulation

Acoustic insulation in buildings and homes are essential to make them soundproof. The sound produced inside the building should remain inside the building, and the sound produced outside the building should not enter the building. Cladding can help significantly in controlling the sounds and noise.

While fibre cement siding performs well acoustically, timber siding performs particularly well in the acoustic arena.

Timber cladding can enhance or reduce sound. Timber consists of a network of small interlocking wood cells that converts sound energy into heat energy causing internal friction. Due to this internal friction, timber cladding incorporates a stronger sound dampening capacity.

This is another reason to choose timber cladding over fibre cement cladding. Fibre cement cladding also reflects sound; however, it does it in a harsher manner that it results in stronger echoes.

Timber boards boast natural acoustic properties that reduce the transmission of sound vibrations. So, a building with timber cladding will not allow exterior noise to enter the building or interior noise exit the building.

Aesthetics

The exterior façade of any structure is going to be the first point of contact; hence, it is essential to make a great first impression. When it comes to fibre cement cladding and timber cladding, you are provided with plenty of options.

With the evolution of technology, the manufacturers have managed to enhance the aesthetic value of the cladding they offer. Today, these claddings come in an array of finishes, textures, colours, and shades catering to every need of homeowners and structure requirements.

– Colour

The majority of the manufacturers produce an endless variety of colours while designing and creating fibre cement cladding. From black, white, red, blue, green, etc., the homeowners can choose from a whole host of colour palettes allowing them to think differently for unique and stylish home design.

Timber cladding, due to its natural shade and texture, is available in 4-5 original colour shades.

However, with rustic and natural-looking paints, these timber cladding boards can be painted in any desired colour while maintaining its natural look and feel.

For most customers, they prefer the natural colour of the timber. But with wood stains, it only enhances the natural look of the timber.

– Finishes

There are colours and stains that can make a simple-looking fibre cement cladding look just like wooden cladding. Although it cannot really replace the look and feel of a natural timber finish, it does look great on contemporary home settings and buildings as well.

As we are talking about fibre cement cladding, apart from wooden finish, there are plenty other finishes to choose from such as matte and glossy.

For timber cladding, most people prefer the natural wood finish. However, there are contemporary painted wood options available for people who want to think outside the box.

timber cladding examples
fibre cement cladding examples

Still Can't Decide? Why Not Try Both?

While both timber cladding and fibre cement cladding have their own plus points, there is nothing stopping you from using a combination of the both of them on your building project.

In fact, if you take a look at the photos below you will see that there are some beautiful example of both timber cladding and fibre cement cladding working well in harmony on the same building;

timber and fibre cement cladding

Safety Characteristics

In the events of disaster, especially fire, the type of cladding you have can make a significant difference to the damage attained. When talking about fibre cement cladding, they have excellent fire resistance. They can easily withstand the most challenging fire.

On the other hand, cement fibre panels are immune to any kind of water seepage and resistant to external weather conditions ensuring the safety of the residents.

Unlike timber and wooden panels, cement fibre panels are termite resistant as well, reducing the repair costs that come after termite damage. Lastly, fibre cement cladding is resistant to warping, swelling, and cracks and once they are painted, they can last for years to come.

The fire performance of timber is well understood, so it is safe to say that timber cladding isn’t effective as cement fibre cladding in the event of fire.

However, over the years with a significant amount of testing, the manufacturers have developed and strengthened that aspect. Hence, appropriate use of timber products can play a vital role in improving the performance of structures and buildings in the events of fire and in extending the time for residents to exit the building.

Most timber wood panels are specifically treated to be fire resistant; however, given the very nature of wood, it will catch fire.

Apart from fire, the wood panels need to be treated with termite repellent as well as their invasion can bring down the entire cladding installation.

Final Verdict

After reading this ultimate comparison guide of timber cladding vs fibre cement cladding, you should now have a much clearer idea of what you should be looking for.

Both the cladding types have their own benefits and disadvantages, and it is recommended that you consult an experienced manufacturer who can guide you through the whole cladding dilemma.

The objective is to stick to what suits you the most that include the budget as well. Your house’s structure and the area will also play a vital role in determining which cladding you should go for.

If you still have any queries regarding which cladding is going to be best for your project, or you need a tailored quote, then you can contact us by filling out the form below and we will be happy to provide you with all the information you want regarding timber and fibre cement cladding, among others:







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