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Modern Timber Cladding Ideas & On-trend Designs for Your House & Garden in 2023

Wanting to add value and kerb appeal to your property? Timber cladding is just the ticket, effortlessly imparting a natural, sustainable, stunning finish.

Whether you’re after a sleek, smart and contemporary look, a bold, daring design or just an eye-catching flourish, wood cladding offers you the chance to get creative. Perfect for home improvers, architects, designers and self-builders wanting to take their exterior to the next level.

Maybe you’re cladding the front of your house, a garden room, a summerhouse, a shed — or just an outside wall? Be inspired and make a modern, stylish statement with these trending ideas and designs from our team of experts.

Exterior wood cladding ideas & designs for your house & garden in 2023

Vertical cladding continues to be ever-popular for achieving a smart, contemporary look, particularly in species like Western Red Cedar. Nature-connected spaces are on-trend; for this, grey ‘old look’ cladding and waney-edge profiles are catching the eye. Look out for black cladding to add intrigue, with thermally-modified species also trending for their sustainability and exotic look!

1. Go vertical with narrow boards for a clean, contemporary feel

The most traditional orientation for cladding a house or outbuilding is horizontal, tending to run along the lines of the brickwork.

Vertical, however, is now in vogue — especially when a narrow board is used to clad a full length of an exterior wall. This style provides the eyes with a smooth, clear, linear path and can add the impression of height.

Particularly popular profiles for vertical cladding are shadow gap and rainscreen; as light falls across the building, the gaps between the slats create subtle linear shadows.

Western Red Cedar cladding used on an outdoor space.
Vertical shadow gap cladding in Western Red Cedar.
Beautiful vertical cladding on a house.

A smart, contemporary method of modern timber cladding house design, vertical cladding works just as well for commercial properties.

Redcar Leisure Centre, vertically clad in Western Red Cedar.
Redcar Leisure Centre, vertically clad in Western Red Cedar supplied by us.
Vertical Siberian Larch cladding on a stylish garden room.
A residential property showing mixed use of vertical and horizontal cladding orientations.
Stylish cladding used on a building exterior.
Diagonal cladding design.
For a more dramatic, head-turning cladding design, throw in some diagonality.

If you’re stuck deciding what might work best for your particular project, you might find our blog post on horizontal, vertical or mixed cladding to be helpful.

2. Weathered ‘old look’ grey cladding

Digging the subtle grey tones of weathered wood? You’re not alone. Interestingly, for many designers, the natural colour of wood is taking a backseat in favour of the silver fox.

No longer strictly associated with battered, uncared for and rotten old garden fences, grey weathered timber is rapidly gaining a refined, rustic reputation. Weathered cladding can provide a characterful, graceful grayscale look — ideal for keeping things as natural as possible, a key consideration of many architects and homeowners.

This weathering process can be accelerated by the use of specially-developed products, or can be left to happen naturally. Using a woodcare finish that has no UV filters — such as Owatrol H4 Wood — will allow your cladding to age gracefully whilst fully protecting from any water damage.

Grey, weathered design wood cladding on a building.
Weathered wood has gained many architectural admirers for its rustic beauty and unsophistication.

Architects are increasingly turning away from spaces that are overly manicured. Grey wood allows you to create something that’s a little more expressive and ‘at one with nature’.

Grey, weathered design wood cladding on a building.
Timber cladding on a garden room that's slowly going grey.
Allowing your garden room or summer house cladding to age gracefully can add value and character over time. Or, you might prefer to speed things up with a greying accelerant.

Any timber will naturally turn grey over time through weathering, but a few cladding favourites include Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, Alaskan Yellow Cedar and Siberian Larch.

Applying a woodcare finish that has no UV filters — such as Owatrol H4 Wood — will protect your cladding from any water damage whilst allowing the wood to gradually attain those gorgeous greyscale hues. This greying process usually starts after around six months, but can take up to two years.

If you’re a little more impatient, then there are actually weathering accelerant products out there, like Remmers Grey Protect.

3. Join the dark side with black painted (or charred) cladding

To continue the monochromatic theme, architects have a growing fascination for black. Dark cladding provides atmosphere — and even a magical, mysterious touch.

This trend can be achieved through pre-painted black whitewood cladding or by using charred cladding. The latter is created using the centuries-old Japanese technique for burning and preserving wood — Yakisugi (焼杉).

As well as delivering a striking charcoal-black finish for a clean, crisp design, the charring process protects the timber, guarding against water damage, insect attack and fire. To give the wood its distinctive texture, the charred timber is lightly wire brushed.

It’s not hard to see why the dark side of cladding has caught the attention of those creating an arresting, daring contemporary exterior or interior.

A home and garage clad in painted black shiplap cladding.
A stylish garden room clad in greying Western Red Cedar and black cladding.
You can use black cladding sparingly without it dominating your project.
Timber cladding treated according to the ancient Japanese technique for wood preservation, Yakisugi.
Strikingly distinctive, clean and contemporary: Timber cladding treated according to the ancient Japanese technique for wood preservation, Yakisugi.
A detached new build home with black cladding.
Charred cladding boards, treated according to the Yakisugi wood preservation method.

4. Channel rustic charm with waney or feather-edge cladding

The natural, characterful looks so effortlessly achieved by rustic waney or feather-edge cladding are quickly gaining architectural admirers.

Whilst the sleekness of profiles like shadow gap and V-groove will always have its place, rustic waney-edge cladding celebrates those choppy panels, unashamed knots and swirls, showcasing wood’s untamed natural beauty.

Again, it’s about creating a nature-connected space, but this time with the focus on everything rural — providing countryside charm and a warm, inviting and uncomplicated feel.

Perfect for creating a seamless transition between surrounding greenery and your exterior garden-facing wall or summer house, or for a barn conversion.

Surprisingly versatile, waney-edged cladding can also provide a refreshing contrast when used on any property situated in a built-up urban environment. It’s ideal for those creating a garden room, summer house or wanting to reflect a rural, countryside feel for a barn conversion or period property.

A close-up of rustic waney-edge cladding.

5. Turn up the heat with thermally-modified timber

Like the luxurious tropical look, but working to a tighter budget? Introducing heat-treated options like ThermoWood®, Thermo-Ayous and Thermo-Tulipwood CAMBIA®.

Not only does the sustainable thermal modification process bestow the wood with excellent functional properties and durability, but it produces an alluring, clear-grade darker shade of brown, mimicking opulent African hardwoods like teak at a fraction of the cost.

Great for creating a space that has an environmental touch.

A stylish timber-clad garden room.
An elegant exterior wood cladding finish on a modern property.

6. Experiment with your profile choice

Whilst tried-and-tested profiles like V-groove and shiplap will always have their place, you might want to seize the opportunity to try something different. Cladding panels can be fabricated with various different profiles.

Arrange yours to form a mix of patterns and sizes — perhaps with a combination of V-groove, shadow gap, shiplap, rainscreen or feather-edge.

Maybe you like the idea of rainscreen cladding, but instead of the rhombus style, you’d prefer a straight edge, or a straight edge with a rounded corner? We machine all of our timber to profile on site and love being able to work with our customers to create something customised for their property and vision.

Interesting use of different timber profiles to create an effect.

It could be as simple as choosing a more thought-provoking type of profile, like shadow gap, available in vertical and horizontal (and even false double shadow gap). When installed, lighting or sunlight creates a pleasing natural pattern to visually enhance your project. As we mentioned earlier on, this is great for a modern look.

Another profile that has trended for a number of years now (and doesn’t show any sign of stopping) is secret nail — with an extended top half to the rear that conceals fixings, this allows you to make a clean, contemporary statement.

7. Be bold with a multi-specie feature wall (great for smaller spaces)

Feature walls (or accent walls) are all about adding interest, energy, texture and personality to a space, whether interior or exterior. For this, timber’s inherent warmth and beauty is perfect, particularly so if you incorporate a range of different species to create a striking, totally unique pattern!

Choose a selection of timber species with different colours, shades and grain patterns put together as cladding or panels. A beautiful timber cladding patchwork, if you like — particularly great for a decorative touch in a ‘tiny’ or balcony garden, where space may be limited.

As architects seek to create something that’s a little more expressive and ‘at one with nature’, the design-led flourish of a feature wall made up of all different species adds undeniable character. Each board has its own look and story; there can hardly be any home or garden feature that’s quite as unique as this.

Iroko: a popular tropical hardwood also known as ‘African teak’.
Iroko: a popular tropical hardwood also known as ‘African teak’.

As amazing as they are, you might want to forget the traditional cladding favourites like Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, Alaskan Yellow Cedar, Siberian Larch and European Oak. For those looking to make a statement, consider departing from the norm — perhaps with a tropical species from the far-flung forests of Africa.

Something like Zebrano (also known as Zebrawood) is guaranteed to make an impact, so called as a result of its eye-catching cream and light brown colour with dark brown-black streaks. Take a look too at Wenge’s gorgeous, mysterious dark browns and caramel streaks, or the alluring reddish-purplish-browns of Utile or Sapele. Then there’s Iroko, known as ‘African teak’ by virtue of its phenomenal physical character and exotic golden-yellow-to-brown hues.

The challenge with tropical timbers is to ensure that they’re sourced responsibly. Make sure you get yours from a merchant with a clear environmental commitment (like us!) — or consider something that mimics these woods, like a thermally-modified species.

Naturally, these sorts of species can run up a higher cost; you may want to apply them in a more decorative (rather than functional) way by using a rainscreen profile; they could be deployed for theming a space in an area that’s already weatherproofed.

Ready to start your cladding project?

With so much scope to get creative, it’s no surprise that cladding is a firm favourite for home improvers, architects, designers and self-builders wanting to create an eyecatching space.

At Duffield Timber, we’re a leading UK stockist and supplier of sustainably-sourced timber cladding. We’re proud to offer an unrivalled range of quality species from right across the world, all machined to profile on site.

However big or small your project, don’t hesitate to contact our team once you’re ready — click the ‘drop us a message’ button below. You can also get in touch through our contact page, by phoning 01765 640 564 or by emailing sales@duffieldtimber.com.

You’ll be assigned a project manager who’ll be with you from the moment you enquire to delivery and beyond, answering all those questions and easing any pain points along the way.

If you’re planning a project and need a bit more information, guidance or inspiration on species and profiles, why not also explore our cladding guide?

Let's get cladding.

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