Indoor Wood Paneling

Modernized Wood Paneling

Adding indoor wood paneling is a fantastic remodeling/home improvement project that instantly adds interest, depth and texture to any room. Although it is a traditional style of wall treatment, there are many ways to freshen up this classic look to fit with a more modern interior.

If you have a basic knowledge of wall treatments and how to work with lumber, then paneling a wall is a fairly simple DIY project. If not, then it is important to hire a professional because walls are rarely straight, and you will need to maneuver and manipulate the paneling to maintain its alignment with your walls, ceiling and floors.

Types of Indoor Wood Paneling

There are many different types and qualities of wood paneling on the market, and the quality and style are categorized according to the surface, the backing, groove quality, and overall quality of the wood used. Here are a few basic things to consider while researching which type of paneling you want to use.


Most wood paneling today is veneer rather than solid wood. The quality of the veneer is one of the most important things to consider when purchasing paneling. Below is a list of six different types of veneer.

  • Pe-finished wood veneer with three different layers
    • Most expensive
    • Best for staining
  • Grained veneer
    • Good for staining
  • Non-grain wood veneer--embossed to give it an appearance of wood
    • Best for painting rather than staining
  • Vinyl-covered wood paneling
    • Wood patterns laminated onto plywood or particleboard
    • Difficult to repair if scratched
    • Easy to clean with soap and water
  • Printed-paper wood paneling
    • Printed paper is laminated to wood
    • Low-cost
    • Cover with a clear coating to protect the surface from scratches
  • Surface-printed wood paneling
    • Photographs a wood grain patter onto a wood surface
    • Low cost
    • Easily scratched or damaged by the wrong cleaning products


Most wood paneling is backed with one of three materials:

  1. Plywood
  2. Particleboard
  3. Hardboard

The most expensive paneling is treated with a finish that reduces moisture absorption and warping. Hardboard, which is usually used for printed wood panels, is the least expensive kind of backing. Less expensive than treated backing, untreated plywood will not be impervious to water, and could ultimately warp and shift.

How to Install Wood Paneling

Properly installing wood paneling is a job usually best left to the professionals, but if you are a seasoned DIY type then consult your local home improvement store, or check online for the best method to install the paneling. Some important considerations before starting a project on your own:

  • Make sure the wall is as level as possible. If it isn't, you need to scrape, re-plaster and sand until they are flat
  • Ensure that the wall is completely dry so the paneling doesn't swell or warp
  • If you are installing the paneling against a concrete wall you must seal the concrete first so moisture doesn't seep into the wood

Benefits of Wood Paneling

Because wood paneling is relatively inexpensive, it is an excellent way to cover up any unsightly blemishes such as small holes or cracks, mildew, or peeling paint. However, if you are going to use the paneling to cover up a host of sins, make certain you choose a more expensive kind of paneling that will resist water or moisture (often the culprit of mildew or peeling paint).

Updating Old Wood Paneling

It is no secret that wood paneling was one of the go-to interior decorating tricks of the late 1960s and early 1970s. As a result, there are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of homes out there that are filled with dark, outdated wood paneling.

Instead of tearing it down and making more work to re-drywall and paint the wall, consider painting the paneling instead. The texture of the panels add depth and interest to a room, and adding color will allow you to brighten a room, or create a more modern look.

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Indoor Wood Paneling