Larch in a Cold Climate or… The Pursuit of Larch.

Sep 6, 2016 | cladding timber, fresh sawn timber, Grown in Britain, wood products, woodland products

The story of a lone timber species, born into a family of Redwoods and destined for greatness…

Larch navigates the choppy waters of the 20thC sawmill scene until finding a suitable ambient climate in the hands of sustainability experts, savvy architects and erstwhile masonry users turned carbon aficionados… are you hooked or just confused?!

Read on for some decent 21stC cladding common sense;

As timber cladding gets specified more and more in architectural projects on the grounds of sustainability (aesthetics are a given right?) Larch cladding comes up more and more as the ‘go to’ timber species for the job.


CLD.FS.MP.Larch timber cladding French motorway services Building with Larch cladding. detail of cladding section French motorway services Building with Larch strip cladding

Probably because it performs well, it’s inexpensive, it has short lead times and great longevity. It’s the consummate all-rounder is our Larch cladding. It’s a safe bet… and it’s a risky world out there people!

So that’s the ‘why’.


Here’s the who/ what/ where on Fresh Sawn Larch for timber cladding.

Tom selecting larch logs at winders great park crown estate  cowards loading logs on the mobile bandsaw larch logs

Firstly… ‘fresh sawn’ just means freshly cut from the felled tree or log. That’s it. What else do you need to know?


And why choose Fresh Sawn over Dry timber?

 Cladding Fresh Sawn Larch timber cladding vertical square edge larch profile fresh sawn larch timber cladding vertical strip

Well, it’s a cost effective way of achieving beautiful, durable timber cladding as a building finish.

Yes, it’s initially high in moisture but it dries out relatively quickly soon finding it’s ambient moisture level. However there is a ‘but’… beware sometimes it dries too quickly! i.e. high summer is not the time to be fitting fresh sawn cladding of any species, however autumn is a GREAT time to fit cladding as it then has a full three seasons to acclimatise before summer comes around again.

The colouring on any fresh sawn cladding mellows with seasons, it weathers and silvers down in situ. It doesn’t need a treatment and as such is very low maintenance.

It will shrink a little bit in the width but that’s what the overlapping profiles are about, they take up the slack and maintain weather tightness. If you’re using a strip cladding then thoughtful detailing is important to take the shrinkage into account.

;arch feather edge claddingPic: Spot the Larch – the orangey ones, 4th & 6/7th boards down. Douglas Fir is the more pink, 1st, 2nd, 4rd & 5th (and yes that is a footprint (grrrrrr)

The surface is a soft textured, fine sawn finish. It’s cleaner and tidier than rough sawn but isn’t the smooth planed surface of dry machined timber.

Dry, machined timber looks sharp and slick, lets face it. But to get that slick, smooth finish there has to be a secondary machining process which, if it matters to your project, adds to the embodied carbon. Whereas our fresh sawn timber hasn’t undergone either a mechanical drying process or any secondary machining. In terms of embodied energy that means fresh sawn is much lower than dried timber alternatives.

Talk about sustainability credentials… sourced from ‘up the road’, minimal machining, no drying process…  we’re racking them up!


But lets be sensible, this is wood we’re talking about.

It is the KING of sustainable materials, so with the fresh sawn or dried debate we’re splitting teeny, tiny, weeny hairs. And anyway dried wood still sequesters carbon. Because it’s WOOD. From trees. That’s what trees do, thank goodness.

But still. Fresh Sawn is more sustainable 🙂 So anyway, moving on…

Why choose the timber species Larch then ?

For starters it’s got good provenance because we source sustainably. You can see on our stock search that we list provenance and certification front and centre because we think it matters.

It’s naturally durable so is good for use externally and if it’s not being used as a fencepost (we know, we’ve said it before!) then doesn’t need treatment.

It’s not as dense as Douglas Fir but is still heavier and stronger than WRC.

It has high resin content so it’s not easy to treat but… and you can get surface sap via knots. Ok, let’s just talk about the knots for a minute – Larch knots get a bit weepy, and have potential to fall out. It’s because the bark at the base of the branches can get covered by new growth of the main tree bole (trunk), kind of sucked into the heart. So when you see a dark line around a knot it’s the bark of the branch that was there when the tree was growing. When the bark dries out it can loosen, but happily it’s not a big issue for Larch in weathering or on cladding longevity.

Knots in small dimension timber like cladding are kept minimal as part of quality control during sawing and grading. But we need our knots for character don’t we?

larch feather edge cladding


Anything else we need to remember about Larch?

Nailing… it is worth being aware of Larch’s propensity to split when nailing if the timber’s starting to dry out by the time you get round to fixing. Which it will be unless you live in a permanent high moisture environment (like Cornwall!)  and even then, err on the side of caution and pre-drill.

That would be our advice to a Larch cladding fixer-upper. We mean fitter. Or carpenter. Who does fit cladding anyway? Well that’s another blog subject for another time.

So there it is! Fresh Sawn Larch Cladding in a very long nutshell. Now here’s the bit you really want to know…

Like other FS timber, lead times are short for Larch Cladding. It’s an easy and speedy fix and a long lasting finish that matures and toughens with age. It’s just superb stuff.

Are you convinced?

If not, why not? We actually, truly want to know. We joke around because wood comes naturally to us, it’s our everything. But we know it’s not the same for everybody.

What you think about Larch timber cladding is important stuff so if you have the time and the inclination, leave a comment (see below) send us an email or get on your favourite flavour social media and tell us from there.

We’ll be listening… 


Until then, go well folks*, from all gang at English Woodlands Timber



Read more about Larch on the species page

Read more about the Fresh Sawn Cladding with all the available species



Larch blogposts that have gone before: And For Lunch… a cladding obsession lived out on the French motorway system

And as for that silly play on words for the title… we’ll admit it, we’ve been overly influenced by this lot

Look at what the Architectural Association’s Hooke Park does with Larch it’s not all cladding but it’s a Big Shed

What the Wikipedia world says about Embodied Energy

A great Doc by Make it on timber & sustainability

There’s Larch in them there pictures.. somewhere


*this is what’s commonly known as a McNally-ism and we’re going to use it more from now on 🙂