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Here’s how I used a modern pre-painted feather-edge weatherboard to clad over the old structure giving my woodshed a new ‘skin’
#2 Installing the cladding
Once the posts were made good the structure was then clad. The aim was to cover all of the existing walls — both posts and fence panels — with new cladding. The cladding could be directly screwed to the existing fence posts. Tile battens were fixed to the existing fence panels approximately every 2 ft (600mm) to provide intermediate fixing points for the battens. Accoya gravel boards were installed at ground level as they are rot-proof. Here is the plan:
Here is one section of the renovation, part way through completion:
In this photo of the front-left corner of the woodshed you can see all of the new elements:
- Cladding boards (pre-painted)
- Tile batten end-stops (50 mm x 25 mm)
- Tile batten intermediate support
- Accoya gravel board (210 mm x 28 mm)
- Accoya post pedestal
(The photo above was taken just before the Accoya gravel board was stained.)
Cladding: Feather-Edge Weatherboards
Traditional feather-edge boards have a simple wedge-shaped profile which is a result of the way they are produced. A thick board is sawn in half on the diagonal. The resulting pair of boards that are created have a wider end (typically 18 to 23mm) and a narrow end (6 to 8mm). Typical feather-edge boards are typically 6 to 8 inches wide (150 to 200mm), which because of the overlap means each one covers between 4.5 to 6 inches (110 to 150mm). They are fixed with screws or nails through the face into the structure below. One of the downsides is that they are prone to cupping.
The modern version of feather-edge boards has a number of significant advantages. It has a machine-profiled shape that produces the external feather-edge pattern, but the back lays flat against the structure with each board precisely slotting over the next. These kinds of machined feather-edge boards are becoming widely available from timber merchants and are ideal for smart DIY projects, being easier to fit and producing cleaner lines and a more regular finish.
I was able to source these pre-stained, profiled, feather-edge cladding boards, which came in 4.8m lengths. These were brilliant on several counts: First, being pre-stained (one coat preservative and two of black stain) saved a lot of time and ensured the boards were protected on all sides. Second, the machined profile meant that unlike traditional feather edge, the back of these boards would sit flat against the posts, making fixing much easier. Thirdly, the machined lap-joint makes getting the boards evenly spaced a cinch. Forth, the eased groves on back would reduce cupping.
There are a couple of downsides as far as I can see: the first being that these boards are thinner than traditional feather edge-cladding I have used before, but in practice they seemed perfectly robust and up to the job. They were light and easy to handle, and very easy to fix. Another possible issue is that they are not pressure treated, having instead a single preservative coat as part of the painting process. Because of this I was particularly careful with treating cut ends with preservative and black stain. I also sealed any butt-joints with mastic to reduce water penetration.
In this photo you can see the cladding going on along the back of the woodshed. As you can see, I started from the top and worked down. This is another advantage of this kind of profiled cladding and working in this direction with traditional feather-edge boards is much more tricky. The reason I worked downwards is that I knew the roof-line was straight whereas the ground was not. It also meant I could use a full board at the top. If I had worked upwards from the bottom it would be harder to ensure the top board fitted without needing cutting to size.
To fix the cladding I used Spax Wirox 4.5 x 60mm decking screws. These T-Star screws drive so nicely and are easy to remove — I love ’em! Although they don’t really need it, I drilled pilot holes to reduce the chance of splits developing either side of the screws over time. Their small heads pull into the boards neatly leaving only tiny nail-sized fixing mark. These heads grip the timber by crushing it beneath them, whereas traditional conical screw heads act like a wedge, forcing the fibres apart which often causes the wood to split unless you countersink them – an unwelcome additional step. I didn’t splash out on the twice-as-pricey A2 stainless steel versions, but the basic ones have a corrosion resistant coating, so I’m hoping that will do.
Accoya Gravel Boards
I used Accoya in all situations where there was ground-contact. If you have not come across Accoya it is a chemically modified softwood that has an exceptional durability (minimum 25 years in ground contact or water immersion, 50 years above ground) Expensive, but effectively permanant. My boards were nominally 8 x 1 inch but were actually closer to 8 ½ x 1 ½ (it is interesting that Accoya is often slightly oversized as if its dimensions refer to what it would be after planing all round)
I installed the Accoya at the base of each section once I had clad down to within three boards of the bottom (see below-left). This enabled me to measure down exactly the right distance and fix the Accoya in place. As the ground level around this building was uneven this sometimes meant I had to dig out soil to fit the Accoya gravel board in place, or cut the Accoya around concrete post footings. The boards were pinned diagonally into the adjacent posts and cleats.
Once in, the Accoya gravel board was stained. Then the last three rows of cladding could be installed with the final board ‘kicking out’ over the Accoya. Because of its profile, the cladding actually rests on the Accoya with only the front ‘tongue’ hanging over. This makes it very easy to fit, and provides a natural drip edge. The finished front corner of the building can be seen above-right.