Timber queries & questions you want to ask?

We’ve put together a selection of frequently asked questions and related timber advice to help answer your queries. From finding out how our timber is sustainably sourced and pressure treated to fitting timber posts

and variations in timber colour, we hope you find your answer below. Can’t find what you’re looking for or need some further timber related advice? Call us today on 01373 814 814, we’re always happy to help.


How many boards will I need?

10 Featheredge boards per meter

What length F/E boards do you do?

900mm (3ft), 1050mm (3ft5”), 1200mm (4ft), 1350mm (4ft5”), 1500mm (5ft), 1650mm (5ft5), 1800m (6ft), 2400mm (8ft), 3600mm (12ft)

How wide are the F/E boards?

Standard width is 125mm, only the 3600mm board comes in 150mm width

How much of a gap should there be between posts?

We advise between 1.8m – 2.4m

How many rails do I need?

For the 900mm, 1050mm and 1200mm you will need 2 rails

For the 1350mm, 1500mm, 1650mm, 1800mm, 2400mm and 3600mm you will need 3

How much post mix do I need?

2 bags of post mix per post

What length gravel boards do you do?

1.83m (6ft), 2.4m (8ft), 3m (10ft), 3.6m (12ft), 4.8m (16ft)

What length rails do you do?

2.4m (8ft), 3m (10ft), 3.6m* (12ft)

*the 3.6m rails come in 87mm x 38mm AND 75mm x 47mm

What length capping do you do?

2.4m (8ft), 3.6m* (10ft)

*the 3.6m capping also comes in Grooved

Are the timbers pressure treated or tanalised?

Pressure treated and tanalised are actually the same thing. These treatments protect against fungal and insect attack and almost all of our exterior timbers are treated this way.

What is the difference between dipped and pressure treated?

Dipped is a water based treatment that is literally dipped, whereas pressure treated is put into a tank and pressurised making the treatment penetrate the timbers having overall better protection against fungus and insects, thus a longer lifespan. All of our ground contact timber is UC4 treated; once our timber is cut we leave it to air dry for 6-12 weeks depending on the time of year, weather and the section size of the timber. This causes the timber to act like a sponge when being treated – giving it a 15 year guarantee.

Are all timber preservatives classified with regard to their potential environmental and health risks?

In Europe all timber preservatives must comply with legally stipulated requirements in posing no health risks and being environmentally compatible. They must all be evaluated individually and subjected to a very extensive, critical health and environmental appraisal before being granted approval for their intended use.

Can you tell me about the wood that Charltons use?

Softwood is a natural material with outstanding qualities including; strength with elasticity, weight bearing ability, thermal insulation, weather resistance and much more. We use high quality softwood timbers from sustainable sources here in the South West and have achieved certification under the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). However, wood is not a manufactured product and will include natural characteristics which are not flaws but part of its beauty.

Why is there variation in colour?

Every tree is different in form, colour and grain. The Osmose/Arch treatment process penetrates differently, even within the confines of a cut length . Colour differences will usually become less pronounced over time, but a consistent flat colour without variation will never be achieved

How do I work out the materials I need to build a fence?

We recommend having a post every 1.8 meters on a featheredge fence; 2 rails for a fence up to 1.2m high; over 1.2m up to 1.8m we recommend 3 rails. To protect the featheredge from ground moisture, you can fix a 150mm wide gravel board for the featheredge boards to sit on top of. The featheredge we sell is 125mm wide and we suggest a 25mm overlap which means for every meter of fence installed you will need 10 boards.

How do I fix the post into the ground?

The quickest and easiest way to do this is to use post mix, fence posts are usually in the ground approx. 500mm and gate posts are approx. 750mm. For fence posts we recommend 1-2 bags per post and gate posts we suggest 3 bags per hole. We also advise you have a spirit level to make sure the post is installed straight.

What fixings will I need to make a fence?

We recommend 50mm galvanised round wire nails for the featheredge, picket and Windstay pales and 5×80 Ultimate wood screws for fixing the rails into the posts.

How do I open a Trade Account?

For a pay as you go account you will need to fill out our ‘Trade Application Form’, to apply for a Credit account you will also need to fill out a ‘Credit Application Form’.

How do I maintain my fence?

Make sure trees i.e. Conifers are well clear of the fence on either side as these sorts of plants/trees can put unwanted pressure against your fencing causing it to weaken. You can also put a preservative on regularly to prolong the life of the fence.

What are the advantages of having a gravel board?

Gravel boards prevent unwanted water being soaked up from the ground causing premature rot to the featheredge/panels.

What are the advantages of using capping and post caps?

The end grain on timber acts like a sponge soaking up any water it comes across – as it is exposed on the tops of your posts and pales, having capping not only gives your fence a nice finish but protects the timbers from soaking up unwanted water from the rain.

How do I fix the capping on?

A non-grooved Capping rail can be fixed onto the top rail providing a counter rail has been installed at the top of your fence, if not you can purchase one (50mm x 32mm section) to fix to the top of your fence, you can then nail the capping onto this. We also have a capping with a groove which can go straight on top of your featheredge boards, in this case the top fence rail will have to be 50mm below the height of the fence.

What’s the difference between featheredge panel and lap panel?

Our heavy duty featheredge panels are made with much thicker timbers to withstand the heaviest of storms – making them truly built to last. Whereas the timbers used in the making of the lap panels are thinner, they are widely thought of a quick fix but with the appropriate care they can last a few years. Ultimately it is more cost effective to have the featheredge panels have a lot longer life expectancy.

How much decking will I need?

 Firstly you need to calculate the total area in m2

To do this, simply measure the length and width and follow this formula: Length x Width = Area in m2

Next you need to calculate the m2 of the desired deckboard (again this is Length x Width)

Then follow this formula:

Total Area (m2) ÷ Area of Deckboard (m2) = Quantity needed


Example: The area I want to deck is 3.6m L x 3.6m W.

The deckboard I am using is 3.6m x 138mm (the width will change to 143mm in the calculations as we must add 5mm for expansion gap)

The area to be decked in m2 is 3.6 x 3.6 = 12.96m2

The area of the deckboard is 3.6 x 0.143 = 0.52m2

12.96 ÷ 0.52 = 24.92

The number of deckboards I need is 25.

Which of your Deck Boards do I need?

We offer 3 types of Deck Boards; Budget, Standard and Heavy Duty so you may be unsure as to which is most suitable for you.

Firstly it’s important to remember that the Budget Deck Boards are not suitable for areas that will be walked on, they’re for costmetic purposes only and are best used as fascias or cladding.

The Standard Deck Boards are very versatile and suitable for most areas, especially domestic so these are the best cost effective option.

The Heavy Duty Deck Boards are exactly that and best suited for commercial areas (i.e. pub gardens etc.) although they can be used domestically, it’s probably not necessary or cost effective.

When building the frame, how far apart should the joists be?

A maximum of 450mm. Our full guide on installing decking, including the framework, can be found below in our collection of ‘How-to Guides’ 

If I want spindles, how far apart should they be?

A maximum of 90mm apart (Mandatory regulations to ensure a child can’t get their head in the gap)

How often to I need to treat my decking?

For pressure treated softwood decking, it’s recommended to re-treat it every year to optimise longevity of the boards. If you plan on treating an older deck surface, it’s very important to either clean or restore your surface before treatment. Attempting to apply product to a used, dirty deck will not be effective. After cleaning, leave enough time for the surface to dry thoroughly before getting started.

How often should I clean my decking?

We recommend that you clean your deck at least twice a year, ideally in warm & dry weather conditions. This will prevent any build-up of organic matter & dirt from damaging your deck. If you would like to wash it more often, it won’t do any harm, but it’s definitely not essential.

How can I remove stains or discolouration?

Common causes of discolouration include sunlight exposure, dirt, mildew & stains. After exposure to UV rays & outdoor weather conditions, many decks will fade and experience some level of discolouration.

Most of the time, a simple brush-down with decking cleaner will remove any offending stains. Most products will use a bleach base which will help to rid your deck of mildew and its darkening effect. If this doesn’t go far enough, you will likely need to consider either acid-washing the surface, or restoring your deck

What species are your Softwood Sleepers?

Our quality timber sleepers are cut from durable Redwoods as standard. The timber is sustainable and is certified as Grown in Britain . It is sourced as locally as possible, mainly in the South West of England.

What is the life expectancy of your Softwood Sleepers?

Our Softwood Sleepers are from our Longlast range with a 15 year life expectancy

Are the Softwood Sleepers treated?

Yes. They are Pressure Treated with Wolmanit CX

What can your Softwood Sleepers be used for?

They are very versatile landscaping product that can be used for defining borders, raised beds, steps, paths, retaining walls, tables and benches and even the base of pizza ovens. Sleepers are truly a very versatile product and a must have for any garden.

What other types of sleepers do you stock?

We also stock a range of Oak Sleepers and Rustic Softwood Sleepers and Rustic Oak Sleepers

What are the benefits of using Oak Sleepers?

Oak Sleepers combine contemporary style with a natural product. They are supplied untreated as oak timber is a very durable wood that will naturally silver over time. They have a multitude of uses such as retaining walls and garden furniture. It is a very versatile product and makes a great addition to any garden

Where can I view your range of sheds?

Our full range can be viewed on our website here. 

We also have catalogues and price lists available in store

Do you have any sheds on display?

Yes, we have a large display of buildings for you to view in our display area on site

Do you hold sheds in stock?

Currently our only stock shed is the Standard Apex 8′ x 6′, all other styles and sizes must be ordered in

How long will I have to wait to get my shed once ordered?

We receive our shed delivery in once a month, so depending on when you place an order the lead time is 2-4 weeks

Can I get a building made to a bespoke size?

This may be an option depending on the style and size required, get in touch to find out more

Can I get my shed delivered?

Yes! We offer a comprehensive delivery service, the delivery charge will depend on your area. We ask that someone is there to assist the driver with unloading

Will assembly instructions be provided?

You will receive your instructions with your delivery, we’re currently in the process of updating these to be more user friendly. You can also find video installation guides on our website

Do you offer an installation service?

We don’t currently offer an erection service for sheds, however we can make reccomendations for installers in your area, please ask for more information upon enquiring

Do I need to treat my shed?

Yes, we reccomend for your building to be treated within 3 months of installation, and then re-treat annually to optimise appearance and durability

What are the advantages of having an Iroko gate compared to a TSW gate?

Iroko is an African hardwood renowned for its durability and stability and the softwood we use is a slow grown Scandinavian kiln dried softwood.

The key advantages of choosing Iroko over TSW are; having a more attractive finish to the gate, less maintenance (as Iroko is naturally more hard wearing than softwood) and with the appropriate care an Iroko hardwood gate will last a lifetime. It is the more expensive option but a far more superior timber in both durability and over all finish when looked after.

Mr Ronald Coombs from Somerset bought his hardwood gate from Charltons back in 1965 and it still looks like new, He said “Our Charltons gate has lasted over 50 years now and will probably last another 50”!

Are all of your gates held in stock?

The majority of our TSW 5 Bar and pedestrian gates are kept in stock- contact us for availability and stock levels. All gates made of Iroko and bespoke sizes are made to order and have a 3-4 week lead time.

How do I work out what size gate I need?

Measure your total gap and remember to allow for posts and fittings. Alternatively, give us a call and we can quote for you.

How do I work out what hand I need?

You can work this out by visualizing you are stood on the outside of the property/field looking inwards- which side will the gate be hung from? Which side the hinges are is what determines the hand that you need.

What does it mean if you have the Royal Warrant?

Charltons have held the Queen’s Royal Warrant since 2000 and have been supplying the Royal estates for 20 years.

“Companies holding the Royal Warrant represent the very highest standards in excellence, quality, service and innovation within their respective industries”. Royal Warrant Holders Association

In 2000 A. J. Charlton & Sons Ltd was granted the Queens Royal Warrant having previously supplied gates and timber to the Royal households for a number of years. We are extremely proud to be Royal Warrant holders, recognising the Royal Warrant as a treasured and respected mark of excellence and quality. This recognition dates back to the 15th century when the Lord Chamberlain formally appointed Royal tradesmen with a Royal Warrant, it was then in the 18th century that Royal tradesmen began displaying the Royal Arms on their premises and stationery. Today we  proudly display the Queens Royal coat of arms not  only on our premises, stationery and gate labels but  also on our own fleet of vehicles. A.J. Charlton &  Sons Ltd have been supplying the Royal estates for nearly twenty years and have been fortunate enough  to have also attended various events from a trade  fair at Buckingham Palace, to exhibiting with fellow warrant holders at the Royal Bath and West show.

What materials are used to make the gates?

We use joinery grade slow grown Scandinavian Softwood and Iroko hardwood

Do you make made to measure gates?

Yes. We can produce any gate to the width and/ or height that you require as long as the size required falls in between the minimum and maximum gate sizes that we are able to make

Where do you get your timber?

All our timber comes from sustainable managed forests. We source all softwood timber from PEFC Certified suppliers and Iroko from companies with responsible purchasing policies (EUTR Regulations)

Can I have a driveway gate that isn’t the usual 50/50 split?

On most designs you can, and the percentage of the split is down to you (as long as it is within our minimum and maximum sizes for the gate design in question)

Can your Courtyard gates be automated?

Yes the majority can be automated with the addition of a heavy duty bottom rail

How do I look after my gates?

Courtyard gates are supplied untreated. You will need to treat your gates before installation. Please refer to Gate Care and Treatment Instructionsin the Info section

How should I work out what “hand” gate I need (the stile that the gate is be be hung from)?

Most of our 5 Bar gates have one stile that is larger for hanging the gate. To work out which you need stand outside facing the property and which ever side is where you want the gate to be hinged is the hanging side i.e. if you want the gate to be hung on the left hand side looking in you will need a left hand gate.

Can I fit two gates as a pair across my entrance?

Yes, though we recommend using a drop bolt and socket set on each gate

Will my gate be treated?

All softwood gates will be pressure treated. Iroko hardwood gates will not be treated. Please refer to Gate care and Treatment Instructions in our info section.

What colour will my gate be?

Pressure treated gates are green (Baington and Country also offered in pressure treated brown), but can be stained or painted after they have dried out. Iroko will be natural finish as untreated.

Do you make bespoke sizes?

Yes, Some gates we can offer in a special width and or special height – please refer to 5 Bar gate details on our product pages.

Can Charltons 5 Bar Gates be automated?

Yes, many of our 5 Bar gates can be automated with the addition of a heavy duty rail. Please refer to 5 bar Gate details on our product pages.

Do I need to treat my pedestrian Gate?

A: Although the gates are pressure treated we would recommend regular treatment to extend the life of the gate. Gates must be dry prior to treatment and make sure that treatment manufacturers  instructions are followed.

How should I hang my gate?

Pedestrian gate should be hung so that the bracing supports the weight of the gate on the hinges

What hinges should I use?

Minimum requirement would be Tee Hinges but we would recommend using cranked pin on plate hinges especially for heavier or taller gates. If any adjustment is likely to be needed (e.g if gate in hung from wooden posts) then we would recommend using a one way adjustable hinge.

Can my Pedestrian Gate be made to any size?

All our gates are standard sizes (see gate details for sizes) apart from the Country gate which can be made in widths up to 1.8m. All of the Courtyard gates can be made in Pedestrian gate sizes these are made to measure gates.

 Where do you get your timber?

All our timber comes from sustainable managed forests. We source all softwood timber from PEFC Certified suppliers and Iroko from companies with responsible purchasing policies (EUTR Regulations)

What are the differences between your mulches?

We Stock Melcourts Ornamental, Spruce Ornamental and Play bark, as well as their Topsoil and Top grow. For more information, visit:http://www.melcourt.co.uk/lm-intro.html. We also have our own cheaper alternative fresh woodchips.

What size bags are the Mulches available in?

We sell them in both 1m3 dumpy bags and 75litre bags.

What is the difference between the Playbark and Ornamental Bark?

The play bark is a lot chunkier in appearance and is European standard and suitable for public places. The ornamental bark is ideal for flower beds as it will break down into a mulch.

By what quantities do you sell the Woodchips?

We sell them in tonne loose loads that can be tipped off with our Pick Up truck, 1m3 dumpy builders bags or we have smaller bags that are about 35litres.

What are the differences between your firewood?

Our standard Sawmill Softwood bag is fresh cut straight from the mill. We have Joinery Softwood bags that are kiln dried and suitable for log burners. Our hardwood bags are a mixture of Beech, Birch and Ash which are partly seasoned hardwood. Hardwood burns slower and hotter than softwood making it a much better wood to burn, we recommend this for open fires.

What quantities do you sell the Firewood at?

Our dumpy bags are 1.2m3 on all types of firewood we have smaller netted bags of hardwood and softwood kindling.

What is ‘Engineered’ wood flooring?

Engineered flooring is made of a core of hardwood/plywood with a layer of hardwood veneer affixed to the top surface

What is ‘Solid wood’ flooring?

Made from solid wood, each board is made from a single piece of hardwood, usually about ¾’s of an inch thick.

Solid vs Engineered

What’s the difference between engineered and solid wood flooring?

Engineered flooring is a versatile and resilient option that is more resistant to moisture and heat, so it can therefore be used in any room of a house

Solid wood flooring expands and contracts in reaction to moisture, therefore it is only recommended that it is only used in rooms that are at ground level or above. Because it’s so think it can be sanded down and refinished for however long it is in the house

Calculating how many packs are required

Firstly you need the total area of flooring in square meters using the below formula:

           Room Width (m) X Room Length (m) = Room Area (m2)

Then find out how many m2 are in one pack

Divide the Room Area by the m2 per pack

This will give you the number of packs required to cover the room

What do I need to treat?

We recommend treating all timber products that are for outdoor use, especially softwood. Whilst your timber may have arrived pressure treated, it’s very important to carry out annual treatment for protection to maximise the life span of the timber and reduce mould and mildew

Why do I need to use treatment?

To prevent staining, blue fungi, rot and to give full protection to your timber.

Note that all faces, edges and any cut outs/drill holes for fittings must be fully treated paying particular attention to the underside and all end grain.

We cannot guarantee against natural movement, splits, shakes or rot in timber products but the correct use of treatments will help to eliminate this. Further treatments will be required depending on the product used and location of your timber.

Timber is always moving due to the ever changing weather conditions, if left untreated the wood can bend or warp out of shape, keeping this movement to a minimum is therefore very important – We can do this by keeping as much water out as possible by applying treatment, but equally not letting the timber dry out in hot weather.

Osmo or Sikkens?

The main difference between these treatments is that Osmo is oiled based where as Sikkens is not. The key benefits to using an oil based treatment are as follows:

  • It’s quick and easy to apply
  • Repels water trying to enter the structure surface
  • It becomes part of the structure so moves with the timber
  • Gives you a much better finish

Although using Sikkens may give just as much protection short-term, where it sits on top of the timber rather than be absorbed by it, it is much more susceptible to flaking – meaning the timber will need to be treated more regularly as it is prone to discolouration.

Some customers have commented that Osmo seems a bit expensive compared to Sikkens but they must be made aware that using Sikkens means they’d need to buy a base coat and a top coat – whereas Osmo is all-in-one. So if you add up the cost of the Sikkens base coat and top coat as well as the fact it will need to be used more often – Osmo actually works out to be the most cost effective treatment.

How-to Guides