Weatherboards are back in business

This Issue This is a part of the Claddings feature

By - , Build 132

Weatherboard dwellings are enjoying a renaissance, and the development of systems making them easier to build is thriving.

Weatherboards clad this modern home.
Weatherboards clad this modern home.
New fixing types let one person put boards in place.

TIMBER WEATHERBOARDS have always been a favourite external cladding with designers, but the trend in the recent past for homeowners to want monolithic finishes and architecture modelled on a Mediterranean style meant they were used less often.

Now there has been a swing back to the weatherboard look, particularly bevel-back boards made from material such as fibre-cement as well as timber.

Total cladding systems developed

Manufacturers began producing high-quality, finger-jointed, pre-primed weatherboards from treated pine years ago, and they became the norm.

Recently, the pine bevel-back has also been developed into total cladding systems incorporating precut scribers, window facings and corner boxes. The systems have fixing methods that make it easier to install individual boards and reduce the amount of finishing work.

Precut scribers save time, with no on-site cutting of the scribers to the board profile required, and allow for accurate set-out, with the scriber setting the line of each board consistently at the required lap.

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Fixing methods have changed

Historically, bevel-back weatherboards have been nail fixed to the framing, with one nail through the face of the board above the lap of the board beneath. This means that the nail through the face of the board needs to be punched and the hole filled and sanded prior to painting.

Unique fixing methods in the new systems remove this visible face fixing. Some incorporate plastic clips on the back of the boards that are fixed to the board in a mid-stud position and on a line that sets the lap in the boards prior to installation.

The lowest board is fixed in place and subsequent boards clipped over the board below and nail fixed to each stud through the upper lap-concealed face of the board so that there is no visible face fixing.

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Easier for one person

These types of fixings also allow one person to more easily install the boards. The long-length boards are lifted into place and held at the correct lap by the clip over the lower board, negating the need for the board to be held at each end while it is face-nailed into place.

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Profiled cavity battens

Other systems incorporate profiled cavity battens, with the profile of the back of the weatherboard machined to allow the board to be locked into the batten with an EPDM lock strip. Nail fixing is only required in a few specific locations.

In these systems, the profiled battens set the board lap and allow for easy, accurate set-out and installation of the weatherboards.

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Painting already done

Some manufacturers have gone further and are supplying boards and accessories prefinished with the final paint system. As there is no visible face fixing, there is no need to paint the boards post installation – prefinishing is possible.

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A few pointers

While these systems have benefits, they do have specific requirements on site. Fundamental is the accurate installation of:

  • the first board or profiled battens – the board lap cannot be adjusted as they are installed
  • the EPDM lock strip for profiled battens – this ensures the boards are held tightly in place since these systems do not use nails
  • fixing brackets on the back of boards – these preset the lap of each board and also lock the board in place over the lower board.

In addition, some systems:

  • require specific flashing systems to be installed
  • incorporate external and internal extrusions that must be accurately installed and the boards accurately fitted to them, ensuring a weathertight finish at corners
  • require closer stud centres in higher wind zones
  • only suit installation on cavity battens and not direct-fixed cladding.

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Competitive cost

These systems are more costly upfront than traditional timber weatherboards, but when the installed cost is considered, they are more competitive on total price. With designers and builders readily adopting them, the future looks bright for the once humble timber bevel-back weatherboard.

New fixing types let one person put boards in place.

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Weatherboards clad this modern home.
Weatherboards clad this modern home.
New fixing types let one person put boards in place.

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