Timber cladding has been used since historical times as a locally available, affordable weather protection option. Nowadays, interest in timber cladding is again increasing because of ecological reasons as well as naturalistic viewpoints. This review presents a comprehensive report on timber cladding in a European context, beginning with a brief overview of the history before considering contemporary use of timber cladding for building envelopes. The basic principles of good design are considered, paying attention to timber orientation, fixings and environmental risk factors. The relationship of timber with moisture is discussed with respect to sorption behaviour, dimensional instability and design methods to minimise the negative consequences associated with wetting. The behaviour of timber cladding in fires, the effects of environmental stresses and weathering, as well as the cladding properties and the variation thereof with different types of wood and anatomical factors (including exposure of different timber faces), are examined. The review then moves on to considering different methods for protecting timber, such as the use of coatings, preservatives, fire retardants and wood modification. A brief discussion of various environmental considerations is also included, including life cycle assessment, embodied carbon and sequestered atmospheric carbon. The review finishes by making concluding remarks, providing a basis for the selection of appropriate cladding types for different environments.