External timber cladding is an ideal choice for many designers and specifiers because of its natural beauty and positive effects on mood, while being durable with low environmental impact. As the world looks for renewable and sustainably sourced materials, timber continues to prove itself as an ideal solution in construction. The desire for something other than cold concrete and synthetic products like fibre cement has seen a resurgence in timber – one of the traditional greats of construction materials.
Timber has been used in construction since the beginning of human civilisation– with evidence of wood being used in homes as far back as 10,000 years ago. It’s no wonder then that timber remains one of the most heavily desired materials in building projects, as its use has always been interwoven into our very existence. While there have been man-made attempts to create better building materials, timber still remains arguably the most low impact material environmentally and is one of the only renewable materials available.
However a recent amendment of the National Construction Code (NCC) has led some to assume that timber cladding is no longer acceptable in low-rise buildings, and this has stopped its use in any construction projects from lack of understanding regarding the new changes regarding combustible vs non-combustible products. The changes to the NCC made have been in response to recent fires in large scale apartment blocks – such as the Lacrosse building in Melbourne, and Grenfell Tower in London – both high rise apartment blocks that used non-compliant materials.
It’s important to note that the recent changes refer to this style of high rise building only, while the use of timber cladding products on class 2 and 3 low-rise buildings is still permitted. As per the 1994 amendment to the BCA (BCA 1990 - Amdt 7) and BCA 2014, timber is allowable as external cladding for 3 storey Class 2 and 3 buildings, and 4 storey if the lowest storey is constructed of concrete or masonry and used for car parking, under the Deemed-to-Satisfy provisions in non-sprinkler protected buildings. The re-wording of these concessions in the BCA 2016 Amendment 1 (2018) do not change the types of class 2 and 3 buildings timber cladding products can be used on.
As the winner of Architecture & Design’s Most Trusted Brand in 2016/17, Weathertex places safety as a number one priority. Weathertex timber cladding has undergone extensive third-party testing to ensure compliance with the latest DtS requirements and verification methods. Weathertex products are made from a reconstituted blend of Australian native hardwoods from NSW pulp wood forestry operations. The unique process steam pulps and compresses the hardwood fibre blend into a highly dense exterior grade board product. No chemical additives are required for bonding and the final product retains the natural fire resistant properties of the Australian hardwood timbers used.
Weathertex has released a whitepaper ‘Fire Performance Guide to Timber Cladding’ that discusses the ins-and-outs of timber properties, particularly in regards to safety and combustibility. For further information about the safety of timber in low rise construction, visit weathertex.com.au/fireperformanceguide.