Choosing Between Horizontal vs Vertical Cladding

Timber cladding is a fantastic finish for any building. It offers a timeless look that’s hard-wearing and beautiful in every setting.

Cladding is also available in hundreds of timber species and an infinite number of finishes, profiles, fixing options and formats.

Before you select your timber species, colour and finish, it’s important to decide whether your cladding will be installed horizontally or vertically.

Horizontal vs vertical cladding installation affects that look and feel of the final product. The orientation of boards can have a dramatic effect on your project, and they influence how the design fits into its surroundings.

In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between horizontal vs vertical cladding, and some of the factors you should consider when designing your space.

Horizontal vs Vertical Cladding

Exterior cladding is crucial to every building design. It protects the structure from weather, pests and fire, and it’s the defining aesthetic feature. Timber cladding can be installed in many different ways, but horizontal and vertical orientations are the two most common techniques.

The orientation you choose affects the look, feel and performance of the timber cladding.

For example, horizontal cladding is often used to “squash” a structure, which encourages it to blend in with its natural surroundings. On the other hand, a combination of horizontal and vertical cladding could be used to create a striking design feature that makes your project stand out.

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. While cladding orientation can affect product performance in small ways, high-quality cladding will offer excellent performance in either application.

Benefits of Horizontal Cladding

Horizontal timber cladding is one of the world’s most popular design elements.

This timeless look is simple and subtle, and it can help your building blend into its surroundings. The horizontal cladding look is popular in urban settings, but it’s also the perfect choice for buildings that are set in coastal or rural areas.

Installed horizontal cladding provides a stripped-back look that comes with several major benefits, including:

– Simple installation reduces construction times
– Greater design flexibility
– Timeless aesthetic that will be on-trend for decades to come
– Available in hundreds of styles, profiles, finishes and timber species

Horizontal timber cladding is a popular choice for designs that focus on natural materials and a softer aesthetic.

Benefits of Vertical Cladding

For a more contemporary look, vertical timber cladding creates a bold design statement. It can add depth and interest to any structure, and the rarity of vertical cladding ensures your design will stand out.

Opting for vertical timber cladding also provides several other benefits, including:

– Easy to pair with other cladding materials, such as bricks, concrete, render and natural stone
– Improved rain management for areas that experience heavy rainfall
– Provides a sense of height, which looks fantastic on shorter buildings
– Vertical cladding can be transferred to the soffits for a seamless look

Be sure that you are using cladding profiles intended for vertical installation. While vertical cladding is better for rain management, boards still need to be installed properly to prevent moisture ingress.

What to Consider When Choosing Horizontal vs Vertical Cladding

Design is the biggest factor when choosing between horizontal and vertical cladding. High quality timber cladding offers fantastic protection in either orientation, so your architectural vision is the defining consideration.

Here are some of the other factors you should consider when designing a cladding schedule for your building:

1. The Width of Your Cladding Profiles

The choice between horizontal and vertical cladding also depends on the widths of the profiles you are using.

Profiles with a narrow width are often installed vertically, rather than horizontally. The vertical orientation improves rain management and it creates an intricate design with delicate shadow lines.

On the other hand, wider cladding boards create a less intricate finish, which is ideal if you are cladding a large surface area. The fine details of narrow cladding profiles are often lost on large areas, reducing the impact of your chosen finish.

2. Indoor vs Outdoor Use

Timber cladding is a popular choice for the exterior of homes and commercial buildings. It can also be installed indoors as a wall or ceiling lining.

When installed indoors, the orientation of the timber affects the amount of visual space within a room. In the above example, we installed horizontal cladding on the walls to increase the feeling of volume. The cladding on the ceiling was laid along the length of the building to elongate the space.

Together, these elements bring a comfortable grandeur to a moderately sized home.

3. Blending Horizontal and Vertical Cladding

While it’s less common than installing external cladding in a single orientation, blending horizontal and vertical cladding is a striking design choice.

A blend of the two design styles is often done for architectural purposes. Varying your choice of cladding creates design interest and separation between the different elements of a structure.

For best results, vertical and horizontal cladding can be separated with other materials (such as bricks or render) to prevent visual clashes.

4. Contrasting Materials

Timber cladding is just one part of your design. It can also be paired with other materials, such as brick, stone, concrete, fibre cement and more.

Horizontal and vertical cladding can both be combined with other elements to create stunning contrast. This adds depth and interest to a structure. It also separates distinct parts of a structure, which can highlight its architecture and unique design choices

For example, the above project combined charred vertical cladding with red brick and steel roofing to great effect. The roofing and cladding create a seamless vertical line that gives the impression of greater height, while the red brick softens the darkness of the charred timber.