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.
A smart, contemporary method of modern timber cladding house design, vertical cladding works just as well for commercial properties.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
5. Turn up the heat with thermally-modified timber
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.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?