Timber cladding installation

Written by nicola gordon-thaxter
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Timber cladding installation
Tongue-and-groove timber cladding is a secure and beautiful building covering. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Timber cladding is also known as weather boarding, as covering an external wall with timber protects buildings from the weather. However, timber cladding is also done for decorative reasons, which is why interior walls can also be clad in timber. You can clad internal and external walls with timber such as elm, oak and cedar using tongue-and-groove cladding. In addition to beauty and resilience, timber cladding is environmentally friendly, as it uses a renewable source.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 0.87 inch by 1.5 inch timber battens
  • Trim wedges (between eight and twelve)
  • Spirit level
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Masonry nails (enough to cover the size wall you are cladding at 6 inch intervals)

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  1. 1

    Store your newly bought lumber in the room you are going to clad for at least 72 hours. Lumber tends to shrink when it's moved from a store environment to the warmer drier environment usually found in homes. Once acclimated, the battens will form a solid and level grid for the cladding.

  2. 2

    Calculate how many battens you will need. You will need enough to go around the edge of the wall and to fit at intervals between the cladding. If you are cladding vertically, the height of the wall will dictate how long the battens should be; most of the times that is 8 feet. Measure the area of the wall. Divide the width of the entire wall, including the battens, by the width of the area you'll clad, and the resulting figure gives you the number of battens you will need. Round numbers up and add at least two or three extra battens to cover your needs.

  3. 3

    Nail timber battens to the perimeter of the wall, and then nail them in horizontal or vertical lines across the walls, using masonry nails about 6 inches apart. You must attach your battens so that they are perpendicular to your cladding, so if your cladding is horizontal, install your battening vertically. If installing vertical cladding, nail the battening horizontally. Tuck trim wedges between the battens and any uneven parts of the wall so that the battens are level. The actual cladding needs to be mounted onto a flat surface, and because old walls are often rough and uneven, the battens provide that even surface you need.


  1. 1

    Fix the first length of your cladding vertically, starting at a top corner so that it fits flush against the ceiling and the side of the adjacent wall. The bottom of the cladding will either meet of be covered by the skirting board. If you are cladding horizontally, fix the first length across the top of the wall against the ceiling with the grooved edge of the cladding pointing upwards.

  2. 2

    Nail the first length of cladding to the wall with two or three nails through the grooved side and into the battening behind, but don't drive the nails in completely yet.

  3. 3

    Use the spirit level to see if the first board is perfectly vertical or horizontal and if it isn't keep shifting it and checking with the spirit level until it is. Once you are sure it is level drive the nails in completely, sinking the heads of the nails just below the surface of the boards.

  4. 4

    Nail the length of cladding on the tongue side into the battens beneath. Use a waste piece of cladding to slip into the grooves to knock the cladding pieces together. Using the waste piece protects the cladding so you don't dent it. Nail the cladding to the battens.

  5. 5

    Repeat step two through four until all the cladding is in place, staggering the cladding to minimise waste. To stagger the cladding means to use the waste of an end piece to begin the next row. You may need to cut some of the cladding to fit around doors, window frames or electric sockets or light switches.

Tips and warnings

  • If you are cladding an interior wall, after you have unpacked the lumber and left it in the room, shuffle the piles around every day so that the lumber on the bottom gets enough air as the timber on the top of the pile.
  • Use mouldings to finish internal corners on your cladding or right angle beading for external corners.
  • Check where electric cables are running in the walls before you nail the battens to the wall. Disconnect your power at the main breaker box then take off the socket or switch cover and notice which direction the cables run to the box. If the cables are flush, move them forward and place them on the battening if you are able; if not, hire an electrician to do that work.

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