Cladding a Garden Wall with Timber

Cladding a garden wall with timber probably isn’t going to add a huge amount of value to my property, but it certainly makes the garden look much more appealing. Cladding the grey breeze blocks with timber gives a much more “finished” look that is more fitting for a garden. As a result, the space appears more consistent and the individual plants are easier to distinguish. 

How to Clad a Garden Wall with Timber

As always, YouTube provided all of the tuition I needed for taking on the wall cladding project. I follow a very hard-working and skilled guy called Tim from the UK. He and his wife run a website and a YouTube Channel called “The Restoration Couple”.

He put together a fairly comprehensive walk through of his approach to cladding a garden wall with timber, this is the video I watched before I got started.:

Sketchup Plans

Like with most of my DIY ambitions, I neurotically have to overthink everything before I can actually take action. So, I measured the garden and created a sketchup model. This was helpful in working out where I would need to make cuts to the boards and it also helped a lot with estimating material costs.

cladding-garden-wall-timber

Tools and Materials

In the tutorial video I watched, the guy uses a nail gun but I don’t have one. As a result, I decided to use screws. I was doing all the work myself so holding a board in place while using a hammer and nails would have been too difficult. Using screws also means it will be easier to remove panels in the future should I decide to add wiring for lights.

Tools

The tools for this job are pretty basic and cheap enough

  • 10 gauge (5mm) tungsten tipped masonry drill bit
  • Screwdriver (hand-held, battery powered) 
  • Hammer action drill
  • Spirit level
  • Measuring tape
  • Saw
  • Square

Materials

  • 15 x Treated rough sawn 16ft 2 x 1 (4.8M 50mm x 22mm) – for vertical batons)
  • 53 x Treated rough sawn 16ft 6 x 1’s (4.8M 150mm x 22mm) – for horizontal boards
  • Brown wall plugs
  • Lidl torque head screws (T25, 2 boxes of 60mm and 1 box of 40mm)

I ordered the wood online from a T.J. O Mahony’s,  I notice that they are slighty more expensive than Goodwins but they do offer free delivery on orders over €200. The driver who delivered the stuff was an absolute character and I ended up chatting to him for a while about his own woodwork projects. 

Rough cut treated timber was also fine for me. I looked at Siberian larch but it was much more expensive. I’ve seen professional carpenters on Instagram using it for cladding a garden wall and it looks real slick but it was just out of my budget.

As for the screws, Lidl’s finest. They are galvanised so I expect that they will last. However, I am not a huge fan of torx head screws, I personally prefer a pozi-drive head.

Some Problems I Experienced When Cladding a Garden Wall with Timber

How Rough Can "Rough Sawn Wood" get?

I actually recently listened to a building and construction podcast from the UK. The guys on it were discussing the problems around the availability of materials during the pandemic lockdown. The dilemma goes something like this; order the materials, wait up to two weeks for them to arrive; the materials are sub standard so the builder is left with only two options. Send them back and wait another two weeks for another delivery (maybe) and delay the project further or work with shoddy materials and get a poor result for the client.

Obviously, I was not impacted in the same way but I certainly did notice a difference in the materials I ordered. One batch seemed like it was the last one in the yard, covered in muck and dust. Another batch were all slightly bowed, as a result, some of the gaps in between the boards were larger than I wanted.

This was my first experience working with a large amount of rough-sawn timber, but it did make me wonder if it would always be this rough or if it had something to do with the circumstances of 2020.

Crappy Drill Bits

I rounded off three drill bits from and old set I had. They crapped out on me just as I was getting into the pace of the project. This was really frustrating because I had to stop what I was doing and take a trip to the building suppliers.

When I actually bought a set of decent drill bits, the difference was clear. My advice is to try to get a tungsten carbide tipped masonry drill bit (amazon affiliate link). If you’re feeling fancy, you could splurge and get yourself an SDS Drill and bits (amazon affiliate link). I think that will be the next toy I buy myself.

Photos of Cladding a Garden Wall with Timber

Batons on wall
Batons on the side wall, with all my materials stacked down the side of the house
Attaching lengths of rough sawn timer to batons
Side of house wall almost done
view from other end
Creep growing on brick wall and old fencing visible
This creeper had grown onto house, I liked it but it was going to become a maintenance issue soon
Aww... Bye bye creeper, for now at least
Batons on, rinse and repeat
almost finished this panel
Continuing down the wall, removing old fencing
You can see where the neighbour raised the height of the wall
The cement protruding caused an issue for attaching batons
This was easily solved with a chisel and lump hammer
Grand job!
Just keep cutting lengths and adding them
I wasn't confident enough to use my plunge saw on this so I squared up the edges and cut them with a hand saw - much slower but it's fine
At this end of the garden I had a creeper that I love so I wanted to keep it
A climbing hydrangea, slow to grow but self-clibming with small tendrals. I carefully removed it form the wall
It was slow and awkward but worth doing to keep the plant intact
Other walls were straight forward enough
I had to rip a length to fit down the bottom of this wall just to finish it off
Nice, warm backdrop for the plants
Pretty much done at this stage, except for the piers of course

What I Learned from Cladding a Garden Wall with Timber

You Can do it alone

I thought doing cladding a garden wall on my own was going to be a problem. Certainly, an extra pair of hands would have been helpful at times, but it wasn’t actually a big problem.

The smaller cut boards were easier to manage for sure but the 6 x 1’s were surprisingly light and I could hold them in place while screwing

Drill into the brick, not the mortar

People assume you might know this, but I didn’t. I guess when you think about it, it makes sense. The mortar in between the bricks is not as strong as the bricj itself and there is a chance that it contains air pockets. So if you have the option – always drill the hole for your wall plug and screw directly into the brick. This will give you a more secure fixing.

You can drill straight through the wood

At the start, when I was attaching the batons to the walls I was way too fussy. I was measuring, marking, pre-drilling, aligning and then fixing. Then I came across this video about how to attach wood to a concrete wall. Just drill right through the wood and into the wall, then hammer your wall plug and screw in a bit, use your screwdriver – done!

After watching the video I got much got much faster and more confident. I also stopped fussing with the spirit level, for the vertical batons – eyeballing it is sufficient.

Don't tell your ma

Jaysus, as soon as she saw what I was doing she was making plans for me to go and clad her walls too. I literally had to stop in the middle of my own garden to go down to her house and 

Cladding garden wall with timber - before
Cladding garden wall with timber - before

Cladding the Piers (I'm not finished)

The piers are fiddly! It was Ok in my mam’s garden because I was just cladding a section of her garden wall and there was only one pier. My garden has seven! So while I have all the main panels done, I still need to go back and finish off the job. 

I am not sure when I will get to this as I have A LOT of other stuff going on right now in terms of life and work. Some people have suggested painting them or just least them as they are. If I were to paint them I would want to render them first and that should have been done before the walls were clad. So I will probably come back in the future and clad the piers with timber too. 

Silvering of Wood

The warm colour of the wood won’t last thanks to UV radiation. Silvering is a natural process for wood exposed to UV light. Personally, I’m OK with going grey (and bald). It happens to us all with age anyway. For comparison, you can see the wood of my shed and the new wood side by side below.

I did get one recommendation for a rather expensive product that would prevent this called Ozmo UV Protection Oil (amazon affiliate link). The price you pay reflects the reputation of the product. I have never personally used it but the reviews are very positive. 

I always have the option to stain or paint the wood at a later point. Most likely, I will paint it in a few years with a white wash because that will increase the amount of light that is reflected around the garden. This will ultimately help my veggies and flowers. 

Cost of Cladding a Garden Wall with Timber (so far)

  • Timber: €488.35
  • Screws: €11.97
  • Wall plugs: €2.75
  • Drill bits: €12.45

This is the cost so far because, as I said above, I am not finished the piers. I do have so ends and scraps left over from cuts that I can use up but I will have to buy a few extra lengths to complete the project

Time

It’s hard to estimate how much time I spent doing this. I got faster with experience. I know my mam’s took me two full days and that was a smaller area. I would estimate that there was probably about five days work when you factor in moving the materials, cutting the batons and boards and fixing them to the wall. All that while trying not to step on my lovely plants and stopping work when it starts raining. 

To be honest though, time in 2020 is a difficult thing to measure, sometimes it feels like that bizarre stretch in between x-mas and new year’s when you don’t know what day it is and you are full of cheese. 

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