Timber buildings offer an economic source of material and the prospect of a home that sits well in its environment. Untreated woods will age and degrade in different ways, either darkening or lightening depending on the genus of tree which has produced it.
Treated woods will age differently, and so it is important that you choose the correct coating to ensure the desired results. Remember that the choice will impact on the maintenance intervals. Some oil-based treatments are absorbed into the wood, whilst a paint will protect the surface of the wood.
Depending on the age of the property you may need information about the conservation approach to exterior wood.
Although wood treatments were once the realm of varnishes and paint, there are now modern treatments which can be applied before the timber arrives on site for a build. Although traditional treatments need regular maintenance because of flaking or cracking, these modern applications are designed to withstand extremes of temperature and weather as well as the natural movement of the materials they are applied to. Examples of the latest surface treatments can be found online at sites such as surface treatments.
It is definitely preferable to have wood factory-finished if this is a new-build. You will benefit from increased durability and a better coating. If this is not possible and you are using a painted finish, it should be primed and finished with the topcoat as soon as it arrives on site for increased protection. Check moisture content before treating, even for pressure treated materials, and take advice from your supplier.
If you are recovering an existing building, check for film formation and how much of the material is visible. Some new cladding will boast a quality undercoat, which means the substrate does not deteriorate – making maintenance much easier.
If you are not replacing a painted finish – a wood stain, for example – the wood will be visible and its colour determined by the wood’s natural colour and the stain, making it difficult to match the appearance during maintenance, and it may mean frequent applications.
There are translucent coatings available which offer a paint-like finish while allowing the wood to appear natural. Again, you will have to make regular applications every few years to maintain the appearance of your building.