Hardwood vs Softwood – Which Is Best for Cladding?

You’ll be forgiven for thinking hardwood is hard and softwood is soft. It might seem like a logical place to start an investigation, but it is far from the actual truth. The main differences between these wood flavours are the density, longevity and ability to cope with the elements.

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Generally speaking, hardwoods tend to be denser, darker and more expensive than softwoods. For instance, oak cladding can last 50 to 60 years with minimal intervention. But softwood cladding often comes with a 15-year guarantee or even less.

This post dives deep into the hardwood vs softwood cladding debate so you can make an informed decision.

Softwood Cladding

Softwood is the most popular type of timber you’ll see in buildings. And it’s easy to see why. It’s cheaper, faster to grow and easy to manipulate into unconventional shapes. You also end up with a sleek look, especially when using knot-free wood for the build.

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Canadian Western Red Cedar is the best softwood cladding on the market right now. It offers a perfect balance of longevity and looks, making it the number one choice for most budget projects. Another softwood suited for cladding is Siberian larch. It has stood the test of time to become one of the go-to options for various building applications.

While opting for a softwood cladding might not be so terrible, you still have to look out for the guarantee. Go with a 15-year warranty and also ask for recommendations before pulling the trigger.

Hardwood Cladding

Hardwood structures can last up to 200 years if constructed and maintained correctly. So you can never really go wrong with oak cladding. These wood species come from angiosperm trees that are not monocots. They also have a network of vessels that transport water throughout the wood – this gives them a more noticeable grain.

Maple, mahogany and walnut were the first choices for many years. But these trees take decades to mature. So we now have to settle for more sustainable tree spices such as oak and chestnut for building.

The Verdict

Hardwood cladding will last a lifetime if maintained properly. It might not need preservatives as softwood does, but the experts say these chemicals protect the wood from UV rays and moisture. Still, softwood cladding remains as a popular choice due to the attractive costs and sleek results.