External timber cladding can be an excellent solution for building facades. But not always. So how does a client decide? We explored this problem on Powys County Council led multi storey housing project, The Bowling Green in Newtown, and created a decision-making tool to help.

The Bowling Green in Powys is the first council house to be built for about 30 years and an exemplar for the pioneering Powys County Council Wood Encouragement Policy 20170117 The building is to be constructed using an open-panel timber frame with wood fibre insulation and timber windows. The project team were really keen to make a visible statement about the commitment to using timber from local forests which made timber cladding the obvious choice. The problem, simply stated, was this – is timber cladding the best choice in that specific location for that type of building and in that context (multi-story social housing in an urban environment). The team ultimately decided that timber cladding was not right for this project. This decision was based largely around the twin challenges of maintenance cost (on a multi-story building) and the changing appearance of the cladding over time. Our Home-Grown Homes project partners, BM TRADA, created this helpful decision-making tree to guide the team to decide on a way forward.

Flow chart for selecting if to use timber cladding or not

 

This decision-making tree will form part of a more detailed timber cladding procurement tool being developed by Woodknowledge Wales and partners as part of the Home-Grown Homes project.

 

To timber clad or not to timber clad: That is the question.