A very popular and beautiful species of wood that we have available within our range of cladding is Cedar. Specifically, we have Home Grown and Canadian Western Red Cedar in many different profiles and designs. One of the few differences between the two is that home grown cedar has a much more open grain, creating a rustic but strong finish and Canadian Western Red is a darker and denser wood that offers a material almost clear of any defects such as knots and tight grains. Cedar cladding offers a unique, charming finish whilst effectively protecting the structure of the building. Therefore, it can be used for both new, contemporary builds or renovations of older type buildings. Both types of cedar are untreated because of the natural, durable and hard-wearing characteristics that cedar possess. However, it is absolutely necessary to maintain your cladding and within this blog, we will be giving you some pointers and tips to help preserve your cedar cladding for many years to come! Adding to this, we want to help you with the instalment process and have created some key factors to consider within the process.
Maintaining your Cedar Cladding
It is a well-known fact that the UV rays from the sun can cause both home grown and Canadian western red cedar to turn from its beautiful pink, brown and golden colours to a silvery grey creating a more dull and bleak design. We would therefore highly recommend using Osmo Cedar UV protection oil to keep the natural colours within the wood. The highly effective oil will optimally match the pigments of the wood, whilst also regulating moisture levels, minimising swelling and shrinkage. It reduces algae, mildew and fungal with its water and rot resistant properties and creates a breathable clear finish that doesn’t crack, flake or peel. It is recommended that you apply Osmo stains every 12 weeks with two coats to help keep boards in immaculate condition. It's important to consider the direction that your cladding is facing as this will help to determine the number of regular maintenance checks and coats of UV Protection oil needed. South or West facing structures are more prone to increased sun light and large amounts of rain and will therefore have an affect on the boards causing them to weather quicker. On the other hand, Northern and East facing structures will need more maintenance because of the lack of sun or light.
Checking your cedar cladding is an important job and should be carried out every 6 months to ensure structures are long lasting. If any boards need replacing, we recommend doing so as soon as possible to stop further damages to other boards. Washing your boards is a necessary step and should be done using soapy warm water making sure that you do not completely soak the boards adding to the moisture levels dramatically. Once dry, apply a coat of Osmo UV protection oil to keep a high level of protection against the weathers. The cedar will need sufficient and even air flow throughout the structure to ensure on going drying.
Zero flame treatment can be applied to your cedar cladding for fire safety reasons without affecting the appearance or characteristics of the boards whatsoever! It is a water based clear solution that soaks into the timber stopping fires from occurring or spreading. For most types of timber that we have here at Ruby, it’s important to aim for 3.7m²/L, however with cedar, you need to work towards 2.7m²/L to achieve Euro Class B and Class 0 spread of flame and fire propagation. When using this zero-flame treatment, it’s important that the boards have not been sealed with any stains or oils such as Osmo, to allow the liquids to be absorbed by the timber. Make sure all sides of the boards have been coated to ensure a higher level of safety and efficiency. Its also important to treat the battens with this zero flame treatment to ensure the whole structure is protected throughout. Also available at Ruby UK is our rodent and insect mesh used to prevent pests entering your outer buildings by covering up small gaps and spaces in the outer layer. Whilst still providing efficient air flow into the building, the mesh is not combustible nor corrosive. The mesh can be fixed using staples battening, tacks or a bead of silicone.
Both our Home Grown and Canadian Western Red Cedar are softwoods and can therefore develop cracks over time also called ‘shakes’. These ‘shakes’ can be prevalent with regular temperature changes and constant weather conditions but is a natural process and will not affect the performance. Over time, your cladding can warp and twist due to the climate changes and constant changes of weather. To minimise this, secure your boards firmly making sure they are level and where water is unlikely to collect. Make sure to take a look at our products highlighted above to help with the up-keeping of your cladding.
Installing your Cedar Cladding
When wanting to fit your cedar cladding boards together, we recommend starting at the bottom ensuring all boards at the lower levels are exactly level creating a good foundation to work from and making it easier to install the higher boards. This process is relatively easy because of the lightweight characteristics that cedar possess. To help with the installation process, we have available Tongue-Tite Plus screws to secure the boards together. It is necessary to predrill the holes to stop boards from splitting and remember to use only the highest quality nails to stop rust such as stainless steel fixings. The screws should be secured with the head flush with the surface of the wood to stop any sitting water pockets. Because cedar is a dense wood, fixings with bigger heads may be required to stop them from pulling through. In terms of the positioning of the screws, two fixings should be fitted 25mm in from the side edges and at least 20mm from the top edge. With boards under 100mm, only one fixing is needed which can be fixed halfway across the width of the board. Every time a board crosses over a batten, one or two fixings will need to be applied depending on the width. Cedar cladding should be fixed and secured to treated battens making sure that the cladding is perpendicular to the battens. It is recommended to install your cladding horizontal, however if you choose to install it vertically, please cut the ends at an angle to maximise water drainage.
To conclude this paragraph, here are a few key points you should take:
- When boards meet at the ends (abutting boards), a double batten should be used which extends the full width of the joint
- Pre-drill holes should be created before applying the fixings to minimise the risk of splitting boards
- Where a board crosses over with a batten, use two fixings to ensure a strong and reliable structure
- Position the fixings 25% in from the edges of the boards
- Use high quality fixings to stop corrosion and weakening of the structure
The way in which you fit your western red cedar boards to exterior walls and buildings will depend on the structure. You need to take into consideration factors such as insulation, cavities, battens and design of cladding. Applying an insulation layer to your exterior wall before cladding may be required to reach good thermal properties. Ideally, this is done in either two ways depending on the design structure. An insulation layer can be directly applied to the exterior wall and then the battens fixed straight onto the insulation layer or alternatively, a double layer arrangement can be used which will be fixed within a framework using I-joists. When two insulation boards meet, there should be a minimal gap no bigger than 5mm. Once the insulation stage has been carried out, you will need to add a cavity to allow sufficient water drainage and air ventilation. To create this cavity between the wall and boards, battens can be used by fixing one batten to the other perpendicular and creating a structure which has a channel in between the cladding and wall. This channel will need to be open at the top and bottom so do leave a small gap between both the ground and roof and boards. Battens need to be spaced out 600mm apart to create a durable, sturdy structure. To stop insects and pests entering these small gaps, we have available insect mesh which will restrict access but still allow sufficient airflow throughout the structure.
In conclusion to this paragraph, here are some key things to bear in mind:
- Applying your insulation can be done by securing it straight to the exterior wall using fixings and then the battens can be screwed and hung from the insulation.
- Alternatively, you can use a double layer arrangement which will be fixed to the exterior wall within a framework of battens or I-joists.
- Where two boards meet (abutting), a second batten will be needed which will run along the gap and whole width of the board to ensure strength and durability between the two boards
- Air and drainage cavities are essential and only need a gap of 8mm
- The cavities will need to be open spaces and so leave a gap at the top and bottom between the roof and floor
- Insect mesh is extremely useful and covers the gaps whilst providing efficient air ventilation and circulation
If using your cedar cladding boards to make outer structures and buildings like sheds, it’s important to seal all joints at edges and corners ensuring as little moisture as possible enters the timber. This can be achieved using the Osmo cedar UV protection oil. Both Home grown and Canadian Western Red Cedar have contents of sap within them so do check for it before treating or staining your cedar. A knotting agent and stain blocking primer will help to get these contents off the boards and help to stop it happening again. It does not contain resin making it ideal to stain or paint depending on your preference. Although cedar is a proven durable and long-lasting wood, it is a natural material and will therefore change depending on the weather. At the time of installation, both Home Grown western red and Canadian Western Red cedar cladding boards should have a moisture content of 16% to ensure minimal expansion and 'shakes' occurring.
Cutting your cedar cladding to fit any gaps or spaces is suitable and an easy process. However, once cut, the ends of the cedar are now exposed to water and could therefore increase moisture levels in the wood producing swelling, twisting and shrinkage eventually. Available at Ruby UK is Osmo End Grain Sealing wax to stop this from happening and creates a form of protection on the end grain. Furthermore, if you are installing your boards vertically, it is recommended to cut the top of the boards at an angle to aid the drainage of water and to stop any sitting water from occurring. Please do allow an 8mm gap where the boards meet corners and edges to also reduce chances of water sitting.
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We hope you have found this useful and gives you some constructive things to be doing over these dull and tedious months. Make sure to check out all our useful products relating to keeping your cedar cladding in great condition for many years to come! If you have any more questions or queries, don't hesitate to contact our sales team on 01409231763 and they will be happy to help!