Looking for new materials to get your home or commercial improvement projects going? Well, it's really important that you choose carefully and with so many different species and types available, it can often be a more tricky job than first expected. Now, in this blog, we're going to be discussing two of the most popular types, British larch and cedar. With aesthetically pleasing finishes, colours, and grains, theres no surprise that Larch and Cedar are two eagerly opted for types when it comes to cladding and timber projects. But which one might be the best one for you? With our knowledge and insights, we try to highlight the perfect choice for you here!
Just what is Larch and Cedar
Let's begin with homegrown western red cedar, which was firstly introduced into the UK during the 1950s. Described by the Woodland Trust as "stately, aromatic, gigantic", UK cedar trees can grow up to 35 metres in height with the species extremely popular due to its appearance and natural durability. Whilst it may be the same species as the imported Canadian Western Red type, there are some differences which is further explained within this blog here. Whilst homegrown cedar is a cheaper alternative to imported cedar, its still a great option for cladding and external construction.
Then on the other hand, we have homegrown larch which grows in several different parts of the UK and is highly resistant to rot and decay because of its naturally high resin content. In fact, British Larch was utilised by ancient romans to construct their amphitheatres demonstrating its effectiveness in construction which is still utilised today. Homegrown larch makes for a great exterior cladding that enhances the design of your structure.
Design and Appearance
Beginning with homegrown cedar, this is a very sought after species of timber and cladding because of its contemporary and attractive appearance. With tones of golden browns, reds and dark oranges running throughout, homegrown cedar really does provide an eye-catching finish. When left exposed over time to the natural elements and the timber weathers, the colour will turn to an attractive light, silvery grey but the natural colours can be reimplemented through maintenance work as underlined below. As well as this, because homegrown cedar is faster grown than its Canadian counterpart, it has a much more open grain with a higher amount of visible knots to give a more rustic appearance. And so homegrown cedar will add character and demonstrate that your design is constructed using a natural product.
Then we have homegrown larch, which is also an extremely popular timber currently. This species is known for its pale yellow and brown colours with pink and red tones emerging throughout. In fact, there are several different natural variations of colours appearing throughout UK larch which only adds to its unique appearance. In terms of its grain, like homegrown cedar, this larch species is faster grown than its imported counterpart, resulting in large visible pores and an open grain. With this rustic and natural look, dark brown knots are common in homegrown larch timber and these will loosen slightly over time and through hot summers. With this weathering, larch will eventually fade to a light, silvery grey.
Durability and performance
Exploring the durability properties of homegrown larch, it has a fine performance record because of a high resin content, making it naturally strong and increasingly more resistant to rot and decay when comparing to lower resin species such as pine. With a low density, larch is a really easy timber to work with and makes it highly applicable for cladding purposes. With a great life expectancy of 20-30 years (when not in contact with the ground), larch is a great option for any household with your cladding project here to stay!
Homegrown Cedar is also classed as a moderately durable species of timber with a service life of between 25-30 years or more if maintained properly. As well, cedar is more stable than other softwoods including larch, rarely twisting or shrinking as a result. However, homegrown cedar is slightly softer than homegrown larch and may dent slightly easier so do consider this when considering what the timber will be used for. Saying that, homegrown cedar has great acoustic and thermal properties, only adding to its cladding and exterior prowess.
Treatment and Maintenance
Because both have natural resistance to rot and decay, homegrown cedar and larch can be left untreated even after external application. However, as briefly mentioned, when left untreated and exposed to the suns UV rays, both timbers will change over time to slivery, grey tones. If you are wanting to keep the natural colours within the wood, we highly recommend using Osmo UV protection oil. The oil has pigments within it which optimally match the colour of the wood, ensuring that the colour is kept throughout its lifetime.
Over a long period of time, homegrown larch timber will be more liable to warp and twist compared to homegrown cedar, because it is affected slightly more by the changes in climate and weather. The twisting and warping will occur when the wood is drying so make sure even air flow is evident and make sure all cladding boards are firmly fixed.
Whilst both of these highlighted species are considerably cheaper than their imported counterparts, homegrown larch is slightly cheaper again than homegrown western red cedar. Thats not to say that cedar isn't unaffordable, but potentially you might be working on an extremely tight budget but desperate to use a durable and aesthetically pleasing timber. Therefore, homegrown larch would be your best option. Now, the price will depend slightly on the project that your completing and so if you need anymore advice or are wanting a quote, please contact our sales team on 01409 231763 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
And so to summarise the two species, both homegrown cedar and larch are similar in terms of their open grains and frequent knots. This ensures a rustic and natural appearance for your projects and structures. However, cedar has slightly darker tones than larch, with dark browns and reds common and larch better known for its straw-like appearance with pink appearing throughout. As well, cedar is slightly softer than larch but is more durable, rarely twisting or warping. So, think about these characteristics when considering which species to go for and the logistics of your structure and which would be better suited.