When it comes to choosing the perfect garden shed, tongue and groove cladding is a strong contender. If you’re in the market for one, you may have come across terms like “tongues,” “grooves,” and “shiplap”. This may leave you wondering what it all means, so we’re here to help!
In this guide, we present our ultimate guide and FAQs about tongue and groove shed cladding.
Tongue and Groove Cladding Explained
Tongue and Groove is a type of wooden boarding that is used to make timber buildings like summer houses. Short for T&G, these panels are uniquely designed so that they can fit together without the need for nails or glue. Regular wooden cladding, such as overlap panels, needs glue or nails to fit two panels together.
With T&G cladding, the wood panels are constructed using a special tongue and groove joint. Each wooden panel has both a tongue – the part that sticks out – and a groove for a tongue to fit into. The tongue and groove are situated on opposite ends of the panel to allow them to connect to other T&G boards.
You can see a cross-section of a Tongue and Groove joint below. In the image, two panels are fitted together.
In a shed, the panels are fitted vertically, with the groove fitting to the tongue of the panel below. Further panels are stacked on top of each other to form a wall, roof, floor, or another wood surface.
As you might have already guessed, this method of joinery has a heap of advantages. Let’s get a closer look at what makes them so good!
Different Types of Cladding
Cladding is a layer of material that gives a building protective skin. It improves a building’s insulation, weather resistance, and appearance.
The cladding can be placed on the exterior or interior of a building (for design purposes).
Cladding is affixed to a building in horizontal or vertical rows to weatherproof and insulate it. This gives sheds and other garden buildings their unique, rustic design.
Cladding comes in many different materials and constructions. This way in which cladding fits together gives it its ‘profile’.
Tongue and groove cladding, for example, is well-suited to many different timbers, including:
- And even Oak
Our carefully sourced timber, for example, is selected from dependable, high-quality European wood.
Cladding comes in a range of materials and in a variety of constructions.
These constructions include overlap, shiplap, and tongue and groove cladding. These are the three most common types utilised in outdoor structures. But tongue and groove joinery is also popular in flooring and decking. It can even be used for ceiling panelling.
Tongue and groove and shiplap outdoor buildings tend to be:
- More often than not, pressure-treated
- Made from thicker wood
- More durable
- Lower maintenance
Then, say, overlap cladding.
Below, you’ll find a comprehensive overview of the most common types of shed cladding.
Shiplap cladding combines the appealing aesthetics of overlap cladding. But this is combined with the strength and durability of tongue and groove cladding.
Its distinctive features lie in its L-shaped notches - positioned at the top and bottom of each panel. These notches interlock with recesses (or rabbets) in adjacent panels. They create a tight and secure joint during installation. In a way, shiplap can be seen as a variation of “shiplap tongue-and-groove.”
This particular design attribute gives shiplap cladding its watertight construction. This means that it can contract and expand with changing climates without warping.
In addition to its durability, shiplap cladding offers a sleek appearance. But this enhanced quality comes with a higher price point compared to other options.
Shiplap cladding for sheds often features a channel on each board. This promotes efficient water runoff and prevents the accumulation of dampness. While often for external applications, shiplap can also be utilised for interior design.
- Subtle joins create a modern design aesthetic.
- Weather-resistant and breathable construction.
- Easy installation, suitable for DIY projects.
- Durable and robust.
- Low maintenance requirements.
- Higher price point compared to other cladding options.
- May attract dust if used for interior applications.
Loglap cladding is like shiplap but with a curved exterior profile resembling a log. The back of this type of cladding is flat, so your cabin interior won’t have walls with overlapping boards.
This style comes at a higher price-point but is a good alternative to those looking for a log cabin design.
Overlap cladding is where overlapping timber boards make up a garden shed’s profile. Rather than panels locking together, they overlap one another. They are then secured by nailing one plank into another and your wall studs.
Variations include waney edge, with boards with bark on them and a straight cut on only one length. You might also hear of feather-edge overlap cladding. This is like a waney edge but where boards are cut straight to give a more modern and uniform look.
Overlap cladding is easy to construct and a cost-effective way of creating a durable shed. And, whilst overlap cladding allows for good run-off, it is prone to warping. You’ll also find it hard to install things like shelves hard up on the wall of your shed’s interior.
- Good rainwater runoff
- Rustic look
- Still strong
- Worse quality construction than shiplap and tongue-and-groove
- Not as durable
- Prone to warping
- Not watertight
- More easily broken into
- Difficult to install shelving
Tongue-and-groove cladding is made from wooden boards that fit together (either vertically or horizontally)with the extended notch on one board locking into the rabbet (recess) on the other. Tongue and groove cladding offers durable, watertight construction with a sleek finish.
Tongue and groove boards, unlike waney edges, get planed and cut. Their profile hides the join between boards and offers a watertight face. T&G refers to the joining of the notch (tongue) into the groove (rabbet) to create a single flat surface.
Tongue and groove cladding is usually made from wood but can also be made from uPVC. The tight interlocking nature of tongue and groove sheds also make them harder to break into. Although very good, water run-off is not quite as effective as shiplap cladding.
- Sleek modern finish
- Strong and durable
- Good water runoff
- Hard to break into
- Resistant to rot, damp, and harsh weather
- More accessible price point than shiplap
- Low maintenance
- Costs more than overlap
- Need to ensure thick enough boards (e.g. 11mm tongue and groove wall panels)
Tongue and Groove Cladding
Now let’s delve into the reasons behind the immense popularity of T&G cladding. Then we can look at how to build your own, along with crucial considerations to keep in mind along the way.
Are you after the perfect combination of quality, weather resistance, durability and price? It’s a tongue and groove shed.
Tongue and groove is also great for people who store expensive tools and machinery in their sheds. The interlocking panels make it much harder to break into than, say, overlap panelling.
This also means your shed is more protected against water ingress. And it’ll be better insulated. This is one of the first major steps in looking at how to damp proof your shed.
Tongue and groove also offers the aesthetics of exposed timber. But, it comes in a clean, modern design. If you’re looking for a more rustic exterior to your garden buildings; think overlap.
Like shiplap, though, tongue and groove boards also contract with the climate. This makes them less prone to rot and warping. T&G’s robust nature is why it’s also so popular as a flooring material. It can withstand heavy, prolonged footfall.
And if you’re worried about a DIY project - don’t be. Tongue and groove cladding is easy to put together. It’ll only need you, a friend, and a bit of time to construct a T&G shed. Plus, you won’t need many tools.
Shiplap Versus Tongue and Groove
Technically speaking, shiplap’s profile is a form of tongue-and-groove join. Whereas shiplap features an ‘over-and-under’ rabbet, T&G has interlocking recesses.
This means that shiplap and tongue and groove also have a similar appearance. Their join creates a smooth exterior without noticeable gaps. Shiplap’s V-groove does offer better runoff and may be better suited to large-scale constructions.
The question is - which is better?
The main differences between shiplap and tongue-and-groove cladding are water runoff and resistance. But even these are minimal.
Shiplap’s longer ‘lip’ means that the area of the seal is extended. This, in turn, might offer better protection against moisture and water ingress. Shiplap also deals slightly better with runoff.
Yet, with this comes a higher price tag. And all for quite minor improvements on tongue and groove cladding. So, ask yourself this - are you building a shed right next to your lighthouse?
If not, then tongue and groove offers more than adequate protection.
Depending on what you use - timber. uPVC is also a cheap form of cladding, but high-end versions may approach the same price as timber cladding. Overall, timber is going to be the cheapest. But make sure that you opt for quality timber.
That’s why we offer the option of pressure treatment for our high-quality European timber.
The best cladding for a shed depends on your needs, climate and environment, and budget. For example:
- Overlap, best for: A cheap alternative with a rustic feel. Perfect for sheds with no insulation and basic storage.
- Tongue and groove, best for: Accessible price point with superior strength and durability. Perfect for functional garden sheds with a modern design.
- Shiplap, best for: Harsh weather conditions with a need for durability. Perfect for more expensive constructions.
Overlap vs Tongue and Groove Cladding
|Tongue and Groove||Overlap Cladding|
|Appearance||Creates a smooth and modern finish for any garden building.||Provides an outdated slatted finish – not preferable for contemporary sheds.|
|Security||Flat surface and no-grip exterior walls mean it is nearly impossible to break cladding apart. Extremely secure.||Exposed board ends and connecting nails make cladding easy to break and vulnerable.|
|Cost||Specially constructed boards are expensive to build. High costs.||Versatile, able to use any type of wooden boarding. Cheap to buy and very cost-effective.|
|Assembly||Easy-slide in assembly with no tools or knowledge required.||Manual assembly requires tools and knowledge of how to create proper overlaps.|
|Space between boards||Next to no space between the boards. Repels draughts and water while providing insulation.||Gaps are likely after construction and can form over time. Lets in wind and rain, susceptible to water damage.|
|Strength||Internal connections create a strong structural spine.||Boards are nailed together rather than connected so provide little strength.|
Installing Tongue and Groove Cladding
Whether you’re buying or building your own shed, you’ll want to consider corners and trim. Once you’ve got that figured, you can look at building your tongue-and-groove shed.
The great thing about tongue and groove cladding is that it can be used for:
- Outdoor garden buildings
Installing it in your ceiling can be easier than using plaster sheets. You can then stain the boards whatever colour you want. With two people: measure your ceilings and cut T&G boards. Then, affix to your ceiling joints through the tongue joins and fit the panels together.
A similar process applies to tongue and groove flooring. But boards will still need to be nailed into your subfloor.
Tongue and groove cladding can also be used in bathrooms and out in porches.
You can always add extra shiplap or overlap cladding to your shed if there’s a gap or crack. But with tongue-and-groove cladding, you shouldn’t need to.
To build your BillyOh tongue and groove shed, simply follow the digital assembly instructions included with your order. You and a friend can have your tongue and groove pre-assembled panels up in no time.
If you’re fixing tongue and groove panels, you’ll still need to nail them to something.
- Flooring - Nail into the sub-floor
- Decking - Nail into the floor frame
- Ceiling - Nail into joists
- Walls - Nail into studs
For a sleek finish without noticeable nails you can:
- Use stainless steel nails
- Hammer gently into the ridge above the tongue (Approx at a 45° angle)
- Using a nail pin, hammer in further until less visible
- Fit board into the corresponding groove
- Using a block (so as not to damage panels) hammer in to secure
- Ensure all panels are flush along the bottom edge
You could also do this with a gas gun on a very low setting. And if you’d like to read more about nailing down cladding check out this guide.
The good news is, for any tongue and groove sheds purchased from GBD, your panels come pre-assembled.
Just follow the instructions (like in the video below) to build your tongue and groove shed.
Tongue and groove cladding can be laid horizontally or vertically, depending on where in your house you’re decorating. The good thing about T&G is that there’s no way to get it wrong. This is especially true if all your boards are the same length and size.
Each piece of timber will have a tongue and a groove on opposite sides. This means that you can easily figure out what goes where. This is why tongue and groove cladding is so great for sheds and flooring.
T&G cladding for sheds, though, is usually horizontal to allow for runoff. If mounted vertically, this can allow rainwater to run down the entire length of the joint.
Installing a vapour barrier can help reduce condensation (and damp) build-up. It can also help to insulate your shed and protect it from water ingress. But it’s not always necessary. And it might be an expenditure you don’t need for a small garden shed.
When timber cladding is mounted on battens but not water-tight, it may be necessary. But with tongue-and-groove cladding, this need is reduced.
Check out our helpful infographic below to see if and where your shed needs a vapour barrier.
Tongue and groove cladding is designed to offer a watertight, weather-resistant finish. Although, it also has enough wiggle room to expand and contract in hot weather. This means that it’s unlikely to crack or rot.
Because of this, you should avoid caulking tongue-and-groove siding boards together. You can still paint the exterior, though. But you need to ensure that nothing is getting into the tongue and groove joint.
You may still need to treat tongue and groove timber, though. But you can always opt to have it pressure-treated before purchase.
Tongue and Groove Cladding and Weather
T&G cladding is weather resistant and able to expand with varying climates. Due to its resistance to rot and tight seal, it is unlikely to rot. Yet, tongue and groove timber should still have timber treatment applied. Otherwise, it should be pressure treated.
Tongue and groove cladding is not just for looks. It’s also adept at protecting your garden shed from water ingress and damage.
The interlocking system of T&G panels means that water can’t penetrate wood or the inside of your shed and contents. This also makes tongue and groove cladding less susceptible to rot.
If you’re buying a T&G shed from Garden Buildings Direct, you can opt to have it pressure treated. This is where timber is locked in a vacuum in a vat. It’s then treated with preservatives and chemicals.
Barring that, you should:
- Remove any old paints and treatments with a solvent-free oil remover
- Clean your wood with a neutraliser
- Use a water-based, saturated, or opaque finish
For tongue-and-groove sheds, we recommend spirit-based treatments. Water-based treatments may need to be applied yearly.
Enhanced Protection with Pressure Treated Options
For ultimate protection and durability, consider pressure treated sheds. This process involves subjecting the wood to a pressurised tank, where chemical preservatives are forcefully driven deep into the fibres. The result is a wood that is highly resistant to rot, weathering, and pests.
Unlike regular dip treatments, pressure treatment ensures comprehensive protection both inside and out. Opting for pressure treated wood means you’ll enjoy the benefit of less maintenance. Most importantly, it proves to be cost-effective in the long run.
To find the perfect unit for your needs, head over to our website and shop for your dream outdoor structure!
More Advantages of Tongue and Groove Shed Cladding
Investing in tongue and groove sheds means enjoying more of these benefits:
The interlocking design prevents water infiltration. This enhances the shed’s durability and protects its contents from the elements.
Strength and stability
The tight-fitting connection between boards reinforces the structure. This, in return, minimises warping and provides long-lasting stability.
The seamless appearance of the cladding enhances the structure’s visual appeal. Thanks to this, it makes an attractive addition to your property.
The snug fit aids in insulating the shed. It helps maintain more consistent indoor temperatures and potentially reduces energy costs.
Tongue and groove design simplifies installation. For one, it only requires fewer fasteners and results in a cleaner finish.
The interlocking nature of the cladding adds an extra layer of security. This deters unauthorised access to the garden buildings.
Minimal gaps mean fewer places for dirt and debris to accumulate. This also means a reduced need for frequent cleaning.
Properly installed, this cladding type can extend the wooden shed’s lifespan. This also reduces the requirement for frequent replacements.
Expansion and contraction
The design accommodates natural wood movement due to temperature and humidity changes. Overall, it reduces the risk of cracking.
The tight joint helps dampen outside noises, creating a quieter interior space.
Increased property value
A well-built shed with quality cladding can enhance your property’s value. Read our guide to ‘Does a Shed Add Value to Your Home?’ for more information.
Variety of finishes
T&G cladding comes in various wood types and finishes. This allows customisation to match your aesthetic preferences.
Using wood from responsible sources promotes eco-friendliness and supports sustainable forestry practices.
For damages, individual boards can be replaced without dismantling the entire cladding.
Overall, tongue and groove shed cladding provide a combination of the following:
- weather resistance
- functional benefits
This makes it a popular choice for outdoor buildings, regardless of the type.
Congratulations on reaching the end of this guide! By now, you’ve acquired expert knowledge on tongue and groove cladding. But let’s do a quick recap on the key advantages:
- Waterproof and weather-resistant: Provides excellent protection against the elements.
- Tight seal: Offers a secure and snug fit, enhancing the shed’s structural integrity.
- Enhanced security: Difficult to break into, ensuring the safety of your belongings.
- Low maintenance: Requires minimal upkeep, saving you time and effort.
- Pressure-treated options: Consider ordering pressure-treated wood for enhanced longevity.
- Reasonably priced: Tongue and groove cladding provides excellent value for your investment.
We hope this guide has helped you choose the perfect T&G cladding for your shed project!Shop Reverse Apex Workshop
We think that tongue and groove sheds offer all the benefits of shiplap at a more accessible price point.
If you’re working on a large scale construction where water run-off is a necessity, though, shiplap may be a slightly better option. For the average garden shed, summerhouse, or log cabin, tongue and groove construction is a perfect choice.
We offer a wide range of high-quality tongue and groove sheds and garden buildings.
Tongue and groove cladding offers a price compromise between overlap and shiplap. For example, our sentry box storage sheds start from as low as £199.
Here at Garden Buildings Direct, we believe that tongue and groove is the most superior all-rounder. As for shiplap’s claims to better runoff and waterproofing? Some people even say that T&G is more weathertight and resistant to warping than shiplap.