The increasing popularity of garden rooms during the last year surprises no one, whether for work or leisure, they are part of the new normal. But for how long will this new normal be around? How convenient is the new routine that you developed in the last year and a half for you? Are you considering using your garden for a garden room? Are you willing to invest time, energy and money? For how long do you want that investment to last?
There are already other articles on this site that explore the options of a garden room and even if it’s a good investment, but as any long term investment, it will only last with appropriate upkeep and maintenance.
Typically we envision garden rooms with wooden exteriors, like a modern style cabin in your back garden. But other materials, such as render can also be used for your garden office, home gym or leisure room. There’s also the possibility of combining render and timber, which would give a different look and feel to the garden room. There is no right answer in this case. The decision making process of which material would be the right one to use would depend on cost and durability.
Timber. Classic, but for how long?
As mentioned before, timber would give us a classic look. Although good looking, wood might rot or its colouring could fade away if proper care is not taken. Rain, wind, atmospheric humidity and even hot summer days will sooner or later cause problems.
So, why not go for a rendered finish? But first, what is render?
Many names, many uses.
Render or stucco, also known as plaster when used indoors, is a strong, flexible and weather resistant material that has a wide variety of uses. This material traditionally consists of a mixture of cement, water and sand, but more modern compositions have been developed through the years. Glass fibres and acrylics are just but a couple of components that can be added to increase the structural durability of render.
Pay now or pay later.
It doesn’t take much imagination to know that a rendered exterior is more durable than wood. That said the initial cost might be higher, but the upkeep cost over time for render would be cheaper. As is usual when dealing with wood, more often than not you would have to constantly keep an eye out for signs of deterioration. With a rendered finish the upkeep is less of a chore, as an anti-moulding coating can be applied to the façade from the beginning.
In the case of the occasional mouldy area, you could remove it using a well diluted mix of warm water and household detergent, however, it is not recommended to use any other chemical, especially corrosive ones. Better to leave that to the experts.
But as durable render is, especially compared to timber, over time a crack here and there could appear. If that were to happen, a small amount of the same render mixture applied on the crack would be enough to hide it. A trained professional would make sure the repair looked as good as new, smoothing the surface and matching the original colour. In the case of major damage, repairs might become more significant when dealing with render than with timber. A bigger section has to be removed and completely re-plastered. Repairing timber would be as easy as replacing the damaged plank of wood.
If constructed well your garden room should be properly insulated from both noise and weather with either timber or render. One of the reasons that have kept wood as one of the most popular construction materials in history is that it is easy to come by, although the airtight nature of render will provide a higher quality of insulation. Adding the options of noise absorbing layering between external and internal walls and you could have a sound studio or full volume workout without annoying your neighbours.
Function and aesthetics.
Furthermore, almost any kind of pigmentations can be added to the base mixture if you so desire, making it not only a structural part of the building but also aesthetically pleasing. You can choose to make it as conventional and non flamboyant as you want, or go for some well-planned colour blocking. These more design oriented ideas are not for everyone, but they create eye catching results.
Half and half-ish.
Why choose one option when you can have them all? Having a total or partially rendered exterior is a possibility, you could also go with a classic white coloured render on one side and the back, a splash of bright colours in the front and the last side could be a full timber wall. Not everyone would go for that kind of avant-garde style but it’s definitively an option. The many possible combinations of colours and cladding could be not only a design statement, but a projection of your own personality and taste.
Ultimately, you wouldn’t want your garden room looking like one featureless block in the middle of your garden. As a matter of styling, it is recommended to consider your garden room as a harmonious addition, one that blends with the main house. Using the right combination of colours and materials would give your garden room a distinctive and attractive look to your garden room.
To summarise, the cost of a rendered finished garden room may be higher at first but then you can be sure that it will last longer than wood. The minor repair cost for render will also be smaller, as simple cosmetic imperfections can be painted over or covered with small amounts of mixture. Major repairs though would not be that easy to fix, they could indeed be an actual inconvenience, as full sections would need to be restored.
Having a garden room is a good choice, but the outside finish is a matter of convenience and personal needs. We recommend that you make a list of your requirements and weigh them up against the pros and cons mentioned here.