Renovating

Cladding a shed or summer house: a completely new look

Thomas Bott

Sheds and summer houses are usually made of wood. Over time, however, the wood becomes worn due to wetness, wind and weather. This can result in unsightly spots on the surface, or even damage. New cladding can help. It not only gives older sheds a fresh, attractive appearance, but also protects them from future damage. Here you can find out which cladding options are available and what you need to consider.

A wooden summer house has been fully disassembled. There are no walls or final cladding on the frame.
© Getty Images / Peter Ekvall

In this article

Material: suitable substances

There is a wide range of commercially available products for cladding facades and roofs. They differ visually and in terms of their structure, but the most important characteristic from a technical point of view is the material they are made of. Below you will find a short overview of substances you could consider using.

Wood

This natural material is the classic choice for roof and facade cladding – at least for small outbuildings such as sheds or summer houses. Pine, spruce and larch are the most common wood species used. The material absorbs colors very well, making it easy to customize – whether in classic Swedish red or trendy gray-white. The important thing is to always prepare the wood well for outdoor use. Untreated wood should be impregnated to stop water from penetrating the surface.

Tongue and groove boards are particularly suitable for cladding a shed or summerhouse. They are already cut to fit and are easy to install.

Fiber cement

This is a mixture of cement and tensile fibers. In the past, asbestos was often used, but this is now prohibited. Carbon, glass and ceramic fibers are generally chosen nowadays. These fibers give the fabric a firmer overall structure and make it more resistant. Fiber cement is easy to maintain and doesn’t require any special treatment.

It is available in the form of panels for covering facades. These look similar to wooden profile boards and are easy to work with using most wood tools.

Plastic (PVC)

Plastic is available in all kinds of shapes and colors. As a cladding, it can therefore imitate many other fabrics. Panels can be obtained that look like wood, stone or metal, for example. Plastic is also relatively resistant but may break when subjected to intense stress.

You should therefore be careful when working with plastic panels due to the risk of breakage. This is especially true if you need to drill holes in the plastic. In this case, make sure that you opt for thicker panels that will withstand the drilling better. Plastic panels are easy to install because they can generally be connected using a click system.

New cladding is being applied to counter battens for a shed. A vapor barrier can be seen underneath.

Many systems can easily be attached to counter battens. In some cases, the only other thing you need is screws.

Glass-Fiber Reinforced Plastic (F-RP)

The main difference in relation to standard plastic is that this material is reinforced with glass fibers that provide more stability and reduce the risk of breakage. Apart from this, the same principles apply as to normal plastic.

Wood-Plastic Composite (WPC)

The abbreviation WPC means “Wood-Plastic Composite”. As with Glass-Fiber Reinforced Plastic, another substance has been added to the plastic. The wood makes the material stronger and offers better protection against moisture. However, the composite also combines disadvantages from both worlds, such as susceptibility to UV radiation, which can damage the surface, and a greater risk of breakage.

WPC panels are available in a much wider range of colors than wooden boards. In terms of structure, they usually imitate the natural look of wood. WPC is easy to maintain. You can treat it in the same way as wood, but you need to take a little more care when drilling.

Natural stone

Natural stone gives facades and roofs a natural look similar to wood. However, the name is somewhat misleading because the cladding is not completely made of stone. The natural material is actually attached to plastic tiles, which are much easier to install. Wind and weather only have a negligible impact on stone – which is not very alterable anyway.

Cladding a shed or summer house: points to note

Depending on the chosen material, a different approach needs to be taken to install it. If you opt for profile boards, you can have them cut to size and screw them on yourself, whereas special assembly is required for many other materials. Sometimes the necessary equipment is already included with the purchased product, but in many cases you will have to buy it separately.

Before installing cladding, it is especially important to prepare the walls and roof properly. If insulation has not yet been fitted, now is the ideal time to do so. You can find further information in our article “Insulating a shed or summer house”.

The cladding is then attached to counter battens. These are wooden slats that are mounted on top of the insulation. If you use slightly thicker boards for the counter battens, you can leave a certain distance between the insulation and the cladding which will allow the wall to breathe and prevent condensation water from collecting and mold from forming. This type of installation is also called a “ventilated curtain wall”.

A man measures out a piece of wood that will be used to cover the facade of a shed.

Measure everything carefully and adjust it horizontally. This is the only way to achieve a straight, consistent final appearance.

Cladding a shed or summer house: list of tools

You should have the following tools ready before you replace the facade of your shed or summer house:

  • Ladder
  • Rubber mallet
  • Hammer
  • Folding rule
  • Crowbar
  • Spirit level
  • Hammering block
  • Pliers
  • Handsaw
  • Circular hand saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • Cordless screwdriver
  • Various screwdriver bits
  • Wood drill

Removing old wooden paneling

You will often find that moisture and mold have gathered behind the waterproofing of the old paneling. If this is the case, you should replace the cladding. If the old profile boards are screwed on, all you need to do is remove the screws to take off the boards. If they are nailed on, however, it is best to use a crowbar. Work along the substructure to minimize damage to the wall. If the counter battens are no longer usable either, you will have to unscrew and replace them as well.

Working with profile boards

Covering large areas is a time-consuming job. Approximately eight screws are needed per board, and they should be aligned as accurately as possible, i.e. in a straight line.

Profile boards should always be installed vertically. Otherwise water will collect in the joints, which can cause long-term damage to the wood. Tip: larch wood is particularly durable and needs hardly any treatment to remain stable for a long time.

It is important to make sure that the first board is exactly perpendicular, because this will form the basis for aligning the other boards. If the first board or panel is not correctly positioned, all the others will be crooked too. After three or four panels have been put into place, you should check the position again with a spirit level. Cut off the tongue and groove of the first and last boards in each area so that they don’t protrude at the corners. Finally, you can cover the corners with a rectangular strip.

The job will be easier if at least one person can give you a hand. They can align and fix the profile boards while you screw them into place, for instance. If there is absolutely no one to help you, you can also use a tension belt to attach the boards together and fix them.

Proceed as follows when attaching the profile boards:

  • Tack down any protruding vapor barrier foil from the roof insulation
  • Pre-drill screw holes into the profile boards
  • Measure and pre-cut recesses for windows and doors
  • Saw off the groove of the first board or tongue of the last board in the area
  • Align the first profile board precisely and screw it in
  • Attach additional boards
  • Tap the tongue and groove of each board firmly with a rubber mallet
  • Screw the profile boards tightly into place
  • Place rectangular strips at the four corner joints
  • Apply insulating primer and then paint

Costs to expect for cladding

The cost of cladding depends mainly on the materials used and the size of the shed or summer house. It is difficult to break this down for each individual building. The following table gives you an idea of the cost of each material per square meter. The working time of a specialist is not included.

  • Material
  • Cost per square meter
  • Wood
  • about 60 francs
  • Fiber cement
  • about 70 francs
  • Plastic
  • about 30 francs
  • Glass-Fiber Reinforced Plastic
  • about 50 francs
  • Wood-Plastic Composite
  • about 110 francs
  • Natural stone
  • about 50 francs

Conclusion: a simple and inexpensive new look

Is the old cladding of your shed or summer house damaged, weathered or moldy, or do you just not like the way it looks anymore? You don’t have to replace the whole building. If the substructure and frame are still technically intact, new cladding may be sufficient to make your shed or summer house presentable again.

Whether you prefer a rustic wood look or cladding made of plastic, fiber cement or natural stone – there are many different design possibilities. If you are unsure which option to choose, consult a specialist. In any case, our article will definitely help you to prepare for your refurbishment project.

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