External cladding! External cladding!

External cladding!

07.12.18

Cedar or larch? Or oak, or chestnut (or any timber cladding for that matter?)

How many of you have flicked through the pages of Cabin Porn, or let Pinterest take you on a journey through the backcountries of the USA, Iceland, the Alps or Norwegian Fjords. You marvel, even drool over image after image of idyllic, remote cabins, hand built by a foregone generation, each telling their own story enriched with joy and hardship in equal measures. Weather beaten logs and timber cladding, rough on the eye, darkened by the shadows of the forest or bleached by the mountain sun offer the comfort blanket of warmth and protection in all its natural, imperfect glory. Your day dreaming is spiralling out of control as you picture what it would be like to escape the world of conventional living as you know it, and to live in that remote cabin by the lake or in the forest. Who cares about the impossible access, the hard work, hardship, harsh winters, wi-fi, supermarkets and satellite TV, it’ll be fine. It’ll be just like living in a parallel Instagram world. You could do it. You should do it. You would be fine.

I’m sure for many it would be fine. Even if you don’t like hunting or fishing, chopping logs or even walking too far – they’re just minor inconveniences that can be overcome…

So why is it then, back in the real world of good old England, with our largely unspectacular climate (yes, I know, that’s a generalisation and we too are increasingly exposed to extremes these days but I’m talking about the lesser populated, more remote parts of the world) – the thought of our cedar or larch (or any timber cladding for that matter) discolouring over the seasons, moving, shrinking, even cracking, seems to make us queasy and induces a tailspin of mild panic and indecision as to how to avert the sheer inconvenience of this rather irritating natural phenomenon. Should you stain it, treat it, paint it, leave it, or sack it off altogether and just buy a factory-made product? Decisions, decisions…

(Hang on – what happened to the magical image of that cabin with the battered timber boards and glacier view that you were just dribbling over?)

“What do you think we should do?” We’re frequently asked.

“It depends what you like!” We reply, perhaps not very helpfully.

But it really does depend on what you like. And what makes you happy. If you want perfection, maybe wood isn’t for you, as wonderful as it is. Unless of course it’s natural beauty, strength, character and sustainability represents perfection, in which case you’ll be fine. If not…you might want to try something that is made in a factory. Which is also OK. But it really is up to you.