Despite having a high resin content — giving it excellent natural durability — as your larch cladding is exposed to the Great British weather, it can slowly change colour.
As a result of the sun’s oxidising UV rays, without treatment, larch cladding can rather quickly attain that silvery-grey look — not altogether a bad thing, depending on your architectural vision.
Rainfall, insects and fungal attack can also cause a number of problems, including warping, splitting, rot and decay.
This weathering process happens to all natural materials, but there are things we can do to drastically slow things down and increase the longevity of larch cladding.
Want to learn how to stop larch going grey and retain those gorgeous golden brown hues for as long as possible? Here’s the lowdown on treatments for your larch cladding.
The best finish for larch wood cladding
There are a range of fantastic woodcare products on the market that can protect your larch cladding from the multitude of destructive outdoor forces it encounters.
These can vary drastically in colour and protection afforded, but we’ve grouped them into three broad categories, as well as given a few examples of products you might want to consider.
1. Water-repellent oils and preservative — for modest protection and virtually no colour change
First up — virtually clear treatments. With these, your larch cladding will have a totally natural look, protection from water and all associated damage, such as splitting.
Over time, however, your larch cladding will still weather to a silvery-grey, but these types of oils will slow the process down. Depending on exposure, these finishes typically need a top-up every one-to-two years.
There are many types of product on the market, but a great example of a versatile, clear waterproof protective treatment for Siberian Larch cladding is Owatrol H4 Wood.
2. Semi-transparent stain — for good protection, with slight colour change
A high-quality, semi-transparent stain represents a good balance between protection and retaining the innate, sought-after beauty of Siberian Larch.
Semi-transparent stains contain pesticides, fungicides as well as providing UV and water protection. There are a wide range of finishes on offer; for a natural, water-based semi-transparent stain, opt for something like Owatrol Aquadecks.
If you’re after something even more powerful for your larch cladding, an oil-based semi-transparent stain like will provide even deeper protection. Owatrol Textrol HES is a very popular choice, available in a range of tints from almost clear to charcoal.
3. Solid-colour stain — for maximum protection, with drastic colour change
If you’re looking to take some creative control over the colour of your finished larch cladding project, a solid-colour wood stain will do the trick.
These are available in a huge variety of colours, and they usually offer the most robust, long-lasting protection from the elements.
… or no finish at all!
Bear in mind that it’s possible to leave your Siberian Larch cladding untreated, allowing it to age gracefully. This option is increasingly popular in modern design, with the emphasis on celebrating the natural but imperfect beauty of materials used.
To help with the process, it’s still possible to apply a clear waterproofing oil in order to attain that grey look in a more controlled manner, avoiding the danger of splitting and warping as well as uneven weathering.
Larch cladding maintenance and upkeep
No natural product is maintenance free — unfortunately. Over time, depending on the amount of UV, rain and ice your Siberian Larch cladding is exposed to, you may notice that your finish is wearing thin.
To restore grey larch to its original colour, look for a wood cleaner and brightening product, like Owatrol Net-Trol. Without damaging the natural fibres of the wood, a product like this can do away with the weathered look, reviving your larch’s natural light brown hues.
If your larch cladding is in a particularly bad state of repair, you can either start over (see below!) or attempt to restore it using a heavy duty clean and restore product, like Owatrol Prepdeck. This will remove all stains, marks and pre-existing finishes, preparing the cladding for treatment.
After application, allow your cladding to air and then apply your desired finish.
When should I apply my larch cladding treatment?
Finishes are always usually best applied before the project is installed.
In terms of time of year, you want to treat your cladding when it’s not too hot (humidity can increase chances of coating failure), nor when it’s too cold or damp. Attempting to apply a finish to moist wood is a recipe for disaster. You can’t go wrong with a mild, dry spring or summer’s day.
Siberian Larch is a dense softwood, which can make treatment slightly more challenging than for many other species. The product manufacturer’s guidelines should be followed at all times.
A quick tip to bear in mind if you’re working on a new project — in terms of what nails to use on larch cladding, make sure you opt for stainless steel fixings. These minimise rust formation and staining.
The use of non-stainless steel fixings results in purple-black ‘bleeding’ over time, which is impossible to remove. It’s also possible that your cladding could split when being nailed, so drilling holes is recommended.
Duffield Timber: your UK cladding specialist
Whether you’re a home improver, tradesperson, architect, designer or specifier, we stock cladding products in a range of popular, dynamic (and sometimes unique!) timber species, machined to profile.
We think we’ll have something you’ll love. Get in touch with our team to discuss your next project.