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Timber Cladding Ideas, Styles, Designs & Trends for Architect & Designers in 2022

Timber cladding has a unique, transformative power — a stunning, natural finish for any property. Explore our eight ideas and add value to your project with a stylish, eye-catching cladding design.

From a smart, understated finish to a bold, head-turning design, wood cladding can be used creatively to take your home or commercial property’s exterior to the next level. A key tool in the arsenal of any architect, designer or self-builder.

In our cladding guide, we explore the benefits of these beautiful structures, some of the best species of timber for the job, as well as different types of cladding profile. But how about some design and style inspiration?

Whether you’re cladding the front of a house, an exterior wall, garden wall, summer house or a commercial property, let’s take a look at some of the hottest trends and cladding ideas for any project.

Exterior wall cladding ideas, designs, types & trends

1. Vertical (or mixed) cladding orientation

It’s no secret that the most traditional orientation for cladding a house is horizontal, tending to run along the lines of the brickwork.

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

It’s a smart, contemporary method of modern timber cladding house design, suitable too for commercial properties.

Beautiful vertical cladding on a house.
Vertical exterior timber house cladding provides a sleek, modern appearance.
Redcar Leisure Centre, vertically clad in Western Red Cedar.
Redcar Leisure Centre, vertically clad in Western Red Cedar supplied by us.
Vertical timber cladding on a modern house design.
Vertical cladding provides a smart, contemporary feel.

It doesn’t have to all be vertical, however. Why not get creative by mixing up the orientations, or even opting for a daring diagonal design?

A residential property showing mixed use of vertical and horizontal cladding orientations.
Subtle yet easy on the eye: Experimenting with mixed cladding orientations.
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 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.
Grey, weathered design wood cladding on a building.
Timber cladding slowly going grey.

3. Multi-specie feature wall

The use of a feature wall has transitioned through many styles over the years, with timber’s inherent warmth and beauty allowing it to truly take centre stage of late.

As the name suggests, this bold trend is characterised by the use of lots of different timber species with different colours, shades and grain patterns put together as cladding or panels. A beautiful timber cladding patchwork, if you like.

Try the chocolate browns of Walnut next to creamy whites of Maple; perhaps throw in an exotic, striped timber like Zebrano in for that extra ‘pop’. This design-led flourish is sure to grab the attention of whoever comes through your door!

Whilst this is a style that’s really gained in popularity for interior cladding, it can just as easily work outside (particularly when shielded from the elements) — ideal for bringing warmth and character to your outdoor relaxation space.

Multi-tone cladding making use of several different timber species.
Mixing up the species can create a striking, design-led cladding surface.
Multi-tone cladding making use of several different timber species.

4. Rustic waney or feather-edge cladding

Just as weathered timber is gaining architectural admirers, so are the natural, characterful looks so effortlessly achieved by rustic waney or feather-edge cladding.

With choppy panels, unashamed knots and swirls and untamed natural beauty on full show, this style of cladding speaks to everything rural — providing countryside charm and a warm, inviting and uncomplicated cottage-like feel.

This natural style of cladding can help you to create seamless transitions between surrounding greenery and your property — particularly suitable for an exterior garden-facing wall or summer house.

Surprisingly versatile, waney-edged cladding can also provide a refreshing, rustic contrast when used on any property situated in a built-up urban environment.

Rustic waney-edge cladding.
Rustic-style cladding: an unpretentious, rural feel.
A close-up of rustic waney-edge cladding.

5. Charred cladding

Looking to create a bold, attention-grabbing statement with your cladding? Dare to go dark. Charred cladding makes use of an ancient Japanese technique for burning wood — Yakisugi (焼杉).

As well as delivering a striking charcoal-black finish for a clean, crisp design, the charring process actually 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.

Yakisugi timber features prominently in the work of Dutch furniture designer, Maarten Baas. It’s not hard to see why this type of cladding has caught the attention of those creating an arresting contemporary exterior or interior.

What’s more, the materials used in the Yakisugi process are completely environmentally friendly, providing another dimension and a deeper narrative to your cladding design.

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.
Charred cladding boards, treated according to the Yakisugi wood preservation method.

6. Finish with a flourish

Not all cladding projects have to be an ostentatious, attention-grabbing feat of architecture. Sometimes all that’s needed is a simple touch — for example, a small segment that breaks up a portion of the wall. Timber cladding can also be used to create a neat overhang, ideal for any summer house or garden room.

A property making use of log lap-style exterior cladding.
A timber overhang.
Modest use of timber cladding for an exterior feature wall.
Modest but effective: timber cladding used for an exterior feature wall.

7. Experiment with profiles

Watch out for opportunities to add real character and intrigue, especially within the commercial sector. Cladding panels can be fabricated with various different profiles.

Arrange yours to form a unique mix of patterns and sizes — perhaps with a combination of V-Groove, shadow gap, shiplap, screen or feather-edge. It’s about creating a bold, eye-catching statement with your cladding.

It could be as simple as choosing a more thought-provoking type of profile, likeshadow gap, available in vertical and horizontal (and even false double shadow gap). When installed, this makes clever use of natural sunlight to visually enhance your project — the gaps create pleasing, smooth, linear patterns on your cladding. Certainly a stylish, trending choice of cladding profile.

Secret nail cladding profile.

Another that’s popular for design-led projects is secret nail — with an extended top half to the rear that conceals fixings, this allows you to make a modern, smart and striking statement.

Then you’ve got loglap profile — another trending cladding choice — ideal for those creating a garden room, summer house or wanting to reflect a rural, countryside feel for a barn conversion or period property.

Interesting use of different timber profiles to create an effect.

8. Head-turning tropical species

As amazing as they are, just for a moment forget the traditional cladding favourites like Western Red Cedar, Siberian Larch and European Oak. For those looking to make a statement, consider departing from the norm.

The world is home to an awe-inspiring array of incredible timbers, including species from the far-flung forests of Africa. With a luxurious, exotic appeal and unrivalled natural durability, these beautiful woods truly allow you to ‘go big, or go home’!

Why not create true impact with a spectacular species like Zebrano (also known as Zebrawood), so called due to its eye-catching stripes? Boasting creams and dark browns, it’s guaranteed to pique curiosity.

There’s daring, interesting species to suit all interior and exterior visions. Take a look 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 dynamic golden-yellow-to-brown hues.

If you’re working to a tighter budget but still want something to reflect a sense of luxury, take a look at LIGNIA® cladding — this sustainable modified timber mimics teak very closely.

Iroko: a popular tropical hardwood also known as ‘African teak’.
Iroko: a popular tropical hardwood also known as ‘African teak’.
Tropical wood used for an internal cladding project.
Tropical timbers perform excellently inside as well as out.

Putting together a cladding project?

With so much scope to get creative, it’s no surprise that timber cladding is a firm favourite for architects, designers and self-builders wanting to do something amazing.

At Duffield Timber, we’re a leading UK stockist and supplier of sustainably-sourced timber cladding. If you’ve got a project in mind, our friendly team of experts would be delighted to help and advise.

As well as market-leading levels of service, we’re proud to offer an unrivalled range — timber cladding in species from right across the world, available in whatever profile you choose.

Get in touch today to start your cladding project.

Horizontal exterior cladding on a commercial property.

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