Wall claddimg

The basic options for cladding the sides of farm buildings are fibre cement, steel and timber, the latter two being by far the most popular:-

Fibre Cement

Not a great choice for side cladding because its tendency to shatter when knocked.   We will supply if you really want it but that single disadvantage tends to outweigh everything else.   There is more technical information here.


Steel cladding (aka box profile, wrinkly tin etc) has a galvanised sheet steel as a substrate which is then given a polyester base coating (usually in grey) before being top coated with either Plastisol or Polyester. Polyester is a tough heat cured paint finish (like a radiator) whereas plastisol is a much thicker vinyl coating with a textured (leathergrain or scintilla) finish. Both are available in a wide range of colours.

A guage of 0.7mm is necessary for roofing whereas 0.5mm is used for side cladding. There is a huge range of profiles available which can be difficult to match if you wish to extend later.

While condensation can be an issue for steel roofs in high humidity buildings this is much less of an issue for side cladding as the water drips off the tail of the sheet outside, steel is frequently used for this purpose even in live stock buildings and crop stores as its strength and ability to dent rather than break offer important advantages over fibre cement.

Timber cladding tends to win out over steel where ventilation is required.   However moderate ventilation can be incorporated into a steel sheet by the "VentAir" process in which small louvres are pressed into the panel to admit air and exclude water, the effect is reminiscient of the louvres on the bonnets of vintage cars.   While the amount of air movement that can be introduced in this way is quite limited the material is very suitable for highly exposed locations, ventilation in the plant rooms of crop stores etc.

The use of steel cladding for walls has the benefit of being draught proof, very tough, smart in appearance and easy to fit.   The huge variety of profiles available actually creates a disadvantage because matching the profile can be a pain if you need to repair or extend your building.


The humble 6"x1"timber board is a popular choice for wall cladding because of its flexibility and economy.

Nailed vertically the edges can be butted up tight to form "Close Boarding" or spaced as "Yorkshire Boarding" to give variable amounts of ventilation depending on the size of the gaps.

A further variation is "Cathedral Boarding" where the boards are spaced 4" apart and a second board mailed over the gap.   These cover boards can be removed as necessary to provide ventilation during the summer and replaced to provide protection in the winter.

Concerns are sometimes raised by customers over the safety of the treatment process which prevents rotting, while this was valid for the original chemicals used which contained arsenic and chromium, these have now been replaced by copper based compounds which are rated safe for childrens play equipment and raised vegetable beds so should be ok for your livestock.

Timber as a cladding material is rust proof, very easy to fix and widely available in case you need to repair or extend your building. It is a simple matter to provide ventilation making it ideal for livestock however being easily prised off it offers very little security for workshops and stores.

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Copyright Paul Richmond 2012