Most of us will be familiar with greyed garden fences, gates, decking and shed cladding — a tell-tale sign that the elements have taken their toll over time.
So, it sounds a bit strange, doesn’t it, that this would become a desirable feature?
Well, architects, designers and home improvers have given a new lease of life to grey timber. When done well, it adds a rustic, characterful and subtle style to any house or outdoor space.
Why’s it so popular, how can the style work and how do I get my hands on some of this gorgeous grey cladding? Let’s take a deeper look…
‘Weathered’ grey cedar & larch cladding: a versatile look that speaks to nature
Grey cladding can provide a rustic, ‘at-one-with-nature’ feel to your house or outdoor space. With the environment and sustainability as important as ever, spaces that connect closely with nature and express its innate character are particularly on-trend, a theme that grey cladding achieves effortlessly.
When exposed to the environment, untreated timber will lose its original colour and slowly turn to a silvery-grey, altering the look of the building or space it’s applied to. It is due to the effect of moisture and the sun’s ultraviolet light rays breaking down substances within the wood.
Contrary to what many people mistakenly believe, this bleaching process has nothing to do with decay whatsoever. Weathering is a completely natural process that happens regardless of species; one of timber’s many beautiful features.
So, naturally, grey timber cladding provides an outdoor space with a statement that says ‘nothing artificial here’. For many, imperfect is the perfect — grey timber, in a quality species like Western Red Cedar, ThermoWood or Siberian Larch, is able to blend into the outdoors seamlessly.
Not only is the fresh, exposed look very popular, but grey is also an aesthetically versatile colour, associated somewhat with Scandinavia as well as providing a flexible neutral backdrop and canvas for the rest of your space. You might want to incorporate pops of vibrant colour, or even other whites, greys and blacks for a monochromatic theme.
Not only this, but since it won’t change further in appearance, with grey cladding you know exactly what your building is going to look well into the future.
Using grey timber cladding on your house or outdoor space design
In a world where the artificial is increasingly shunned and the imperfect is the new perfect, grey timber cladding works brilliantly to make a bold, natural statement. Given the popularity of rewilding and connecting to nature, it provides a refreshing, exposed and simple feel for your property.
Grey timber cladding is also exceptionally versatile, easily incorporated into sleeker, modern and Scandi-inspired contemporary designs. It provides a versatile canvas for allowing statement pieces to ‘pop’, or for forming part of a monochrome design but without the extremity or daringness of charred timber.
Let’s take a look at a few grey cladding outdoor ideas.
How do I get grey timber cladding?
Depending on how quickly you want the ‘silver fox’ look, there are two ways to do it: either by letting the timber age naturally, or by using an agent to speed up the greying process.
The natural way
If you’re not in a big hurry, the most straightforward, true-to-nature method is to simply let the timber weather by itself. A quality, durable species, such as Western Red Cedar, Siberian Larch or ThermoWood doesn’t strictly need any treatment before being used outdoors. Over time, as a result of its exposure to the elements, it will slowly turn grey.
But, for maximum service life, still consider applying a protective finish. One that doesn’t contain UV filters, such as Owatrol H4 Wood will allow the cladding to age and grey beautifully whilst shielding it from moisture, pollution and dirt damage — all of which can lead to warping, cracking or splitting. By treating your timber with such a finish, you’ll also help to prevent drastic colour variations and uneven greying often caused by moisture.
Unless completely shielded from the elements, cladding of any timber species will eventually weather to a silvery-grey. Depending on the durability and density of the species, how exposed your cladding is and even whether you’re in a coastal area, this greying process can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. Cladding that faces south will naturally weather faster than cladding that is north-facing, with timber in wetter climates changing colour faster.
We’d say this is the most natural way to achieve the beauty of grey cladding. But, understandably, many designers and home improvers aren’t too keen on having to wait several years to achieve grey’s gorgeous tones for their project.
Weathering accelerant products
To speed up and accelerate the greying process, there are a number of products on the market, such as Remmers Pre-Grey. As well as protecting and sealing the timber, these treatments deliver a consistent, quality grey finish on your timber in a very short space of time. For the best possible result, be sure to follow the product manufacturer’s guidelines.
Whilst we wouldn’t particularly recommend them, there are also a number of other DIY methods and at-home preparations for ageing the wood. One of the most popular includes letting steel wool sit overnight in a bath of ordinary white vinegar, before diluting 1:1 with water and applying it to your timber with a brush.
Be sure to test on a small sample or an inconspicuous area first, of course.
Duffield Timber: for quality timber & timber cladding products
We’re a leading UK supplier of quality timber cladding, available in a range of beautiful, quality species — each machined to a range of different profiles. That’s in addition to a range of woodcare finishes, perfect for helping your timber to weather consistently and naturally.
To kick off your project, get in touch with our team of timber experts below.