Garden office external cladding not only protects the building from the elements, it also plays a significant part in the appearance of the building. The walls after all will be the biggest single area of material on your building, so it pays to think about the style of cladding that works for you.
There are lots of different materials used for the external cladding of a garden office, and we will look at these in some detail in our cladding materials guide, in this section we focus on the different profiles of cladding and the effect each one has on the appearance of a garden office.
To show how your choice of cladding will effect the appearance of your garden office, we have modeled up a common style of garden office, and finished it in the common profiles of external cladding – the differences in appearances between the buildings is quite great, as you will see.
- Tongue & groove
- Feather edge weatherboard
- Batten & board
- Rain screen cladding
- Smooth paneling
- Smooth render
- Combination of finishes
Tongue & groove cladding is probably the most common profile used on garden offices today, this is because it is used widely on contemporary style garden offices, where the crisp lines created by the boards are in keeping with the modern designs. With tongue & groove cladding each board has a tongue machined onto one edge and a groove on the other. Boards are laid next to each other with the tongue of one board fitting snuggly into the groove of the next.
Tongue & groove boards come in varying widths from quite narrow boards of say 80mm to wider boards of around 150mm, the width of the board chosen also plays its part in the final appearance, we have noted that the most modern garden office designs use the narrowest of boards.
Tongue & groove cladding can be fitted either vertically or horizontally, each direction creating a different looking building, as the images above and below show, there’s no real difference in the cost between the two directions, and it has no effect of the structure of the building, it’s all a matter of personal taste.
With standard tongue & groove cladding, which is often referred to as TGV, the joint where the boards meet has a small ‘v-shaped’ groove, but some suppliers specify embellishments to this detail such as machining a bead alongside the ‘v’ groove, this is known as beaded tongue & groove (BTGV), this adds a subtle detail, but is more in keeping on a traditional design than a contemporary one.
Shiplap is a profile of cladding you’ll often find on more traditional style garden offices, and normally those that are painted. Shiplap boards have a lip grooved into the back of the bottom edge of the board, and a scooped out channel along the top of the board, this is often about 25% of the depth of the board. The boards are fitted horizontally, and the top of the scooped channel of one board slots under the lip at the bottom of the next board.
The profile of shiplap creates a unique texture and shadow lines on the wall, which is accentuated when the cladding is painted.
If you are looking for a rustic or barn style garden office, then feather edge weatherboarding will give you the appearance you want. Feather edge weatherboard is normally a sawn timber, meaning that the face of the wood is rough, you can get smooth versions but they are more expensive due to the work required to plane the surface.
Feather edge boards are tapered from full thickness at the bottom to a fraction of the thickness at the top of the board – hence the name feather edge. The are two types of feather edge fixing, one has a lip grooved into the rear of the bottom edge of the board, which slots tightly over the tapered edge of the board before. The second way of fixing feather edge cladding is to lay one board on top of another, overlapping the board below by about a third of its depth – as feather edge cladding tends to be quite thin, this creates a durable thickness of cladding all over the building.
Batten & board cladding
As the name suggest this style of cladding is made up of a batten and board! Two widths of square edge timber are used in this style of cladding, the narrower piece covering the joints of the wider boards.
Normally fixed vertically, wide timber boards are butted together across the garden offices walls, the joints between them would be vulnerable to water ingress, so they are covered with thinner widths of batten, this staggers the joints and makes the passage of moisture more difficult.
Normally used on more traditional style garden offices, batten and board cladding gives a building a very substantial feel.
A recent trend in garden office cladding is the use of rain screen cladding, which can be fixed vertically or horizontally for different looks. People’s first thought is how can this cladding protect the garden office if there are gaps between the boards? The answer is that a high performance membrane is fitted behind the boards which not only protects the building from rain, but also uv light and wind. this membrane protects buildings with gaps up to 20mm wide.
Durable cladding such as cedar and larch are normally used for rain screen cladding, this saves a lot of maintenance which would be quite fiddly!
A number of small garden office designs have smooth wall finishes, sometimes these are painted, they are formed from large sheets of exterior grade plywood, which not only acts as a protective cladding layer, but also increases the strength of the building. This cladding technique has been used successfully for many years in garden office design.
New timber paneling products are being developed and we are seeing them being used on larger garden offices. One interesting product that has been used on commercial building projects and is now used on garden offices, is made from layers of kraft paper bonded with resins at high pressure and temperature. The panels are then veneered with wood and are highly durable. Buildings finished with these panels look rather stylish with the beauty of timber, but the durability of an engineered product, the smooth finish it creates, creates an unfussy exterior to a garden office.
Other engineered woods used in garden office cladding are moisture resistant MDF’s which have a smooth fascia and take paint finishes well. People’s first thought is that MDF swells, but the products used outside are quite different, and have been tested extensively for their durability as a garden office cladding.
Garden office cladding’s are not limited to timber finishes, and a number of bespoke garden office suppliers offer the option of render. A rendered finish creates a substantial feeling buildings, and done well can create quite a sleek look. Renders have come along way over the years and can have a colorant added as they are applied, this means there is little ongoing maintenance.
You’re not limited to using just one cladding on your garden office, you could mix and match them. You’d have to give this some thought to get the look right, but its an option. One trend we have seen is to mix vertical and horizontal tongue & groove boards.
Mixing cladding finishes can also be a cost effective option, and some suppliers offer the option of using an expensive cladding like cedar on the front elevation, and using less expensive options such as render on the other walls.