By definition, wall paneling is a millwork product composed of rigid or semi-rigid components that covers and decorates walls.
Once used as insulation for buildings to keep out the cold, today’s products are not always fashioned of wood, a fact you may already realize if you’ve begun to shop for this product for your home.
In this article we will discuss and illustrate 11 different types of wall paneling options for homes with their pros and cons etc. Let’s see them below:
1. Board and Batten panels
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This style of paneling employs narrow strips of wood mounted atop the joints of wide boards that, once the job is complete, gives a homeowner a geometric, layered appearance.
The larger boards can be installed either vertically or horizontally followed by thinner battens.
DIY expert Bob Vila recommends taking this shortcut for a faster install: “adhere battens directly to the wall, then unify the assembly with trim paint.”
Choose this material and depending upon material, you’ll spend between $7 and $20 per square foot to do the job.
- -Gives rooms a historic, traditional look
- -Double layers of wood strips are stronger
- -May be made of wood or other materials
- -Can be affixed to walls, ceilings and wainscoting
- -May be too labor-intensive for beginners
- -Choose pre-fabricated over DIY install and you’ll spend more money
- -How are your math skills? Calculating measurements are critical
- -Allocate extra time to caulking seams, board edges and seam fills.
2. Shiplap panels
For folks who keep an eye in wall covering trends, shiplap should be a familiar term because it’s wildly popular these days.
It’s easy to get confused between board and batten and shiplap panel designs because both remind one of barns and sheds, striking a rural, casual tone.
Look closer. You’ll notice a groove cut into the top and bottom of shiplap panels that enable a homeowner to get a close fit when installing these panels on walls.
Expect to spend $5 to $6 per square foot for materials and labor.
- -Adds interest and nostalgia to interior walls
- -Panels are easily installed
- -Easy to stain and paint to complement decor
- -Use it anywhere – even around a fireplace or as a kitchen backsplash.
- -Use a sealant if boards will be hung in wet/moist areas
- -Pine panels are inexpensive. Other materials cost more.
- -Shiplap surfaces are dust magnets due to gaps and grooves
- -If incorrectly installed, cheap wood can warp or rot.
3. Plank wall panels
Wood plank wall panels come in a variety of materials that include new wood, reclaimed wood and synthetics.
These texture-rich and planks can be installed horizontally, vertically or attached to walls in diagonal or herringbone patterns.
Further, planks come in a variety of sizes and weights that allow you to create a unique statement.
No matter the style of your room or decor, plank wall panels will fit in nicely. Your tab to do the job should run between $5 to $6 per square foot (depending on the material).
- -Lots of material choices
- -Comes in various finishes and colors
- -Gives you the option of vertical/horizontal installation
- -Salvage planks are an environmentally-friendly option.
- -Solid wood planks are expensive
- -Tempered hardboard may be hard to install
- -The thinner the plank, the more prone to warping
- -Installing directly over sheet rock is not recommended.
4. Beadboard panels
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Once upon a time, beadboard was installed stick by stick, notes This Old House’s Bob Vila, thus homeowners wound up with surfaces loaded with charm and character — until panels began to pop in humid weather.
Quick-install plywood panels proved a solution. Today’s beadboard materials are crafted of medium-density fiberboard (MDF), a wood and resin mixture that melds when subjected to pressure.
Most beadboard products on the market come in ready-to-paint sheets, adds Vila.
The average cost of installing these panels is between $7 and $40 per square foot depending upon material quality.
- -Vintage look can’t be matched
- -Milled to look like original beadboard patterns
- -Available in myriad widths
- -Install vertically or horizontally for the look you seek.
- -Quick-install plywood “can’t take a deep bead”
- -MDF can be scratched, requiring fillers and sanding
- -Could cost a mint if you insist on pricy woods
- -Not the easiest paneling on this list to install.
5. Tongue and groove panels
It’s easy to mistake shiplap for tongue and groove panels, but look closely and you’ll notice that differences are found in each one’s profile or edges.
Tongue and groove planks, say experts at This Old House, “have a small projection sticking out of the center of one side’s edge, while the other side has a corresponding small indentation. During installation, the tongue of one plank fits into the groove of its neighbor.”
These panels come in wood, fiber cement, vinyl and metal. Home Advisor estimates the cost of these panels in MDF or plywood at between $1 and $5 per square foot.
- -Tongue and groove panels insulate better than shiplap
- -Consistently sized planks made to precise dimensions
- -Joints on both sides of the panels produce a tighter fit
- -Install can be as easy as using a nail gun to attach panels to studs.
- -Tongue and groove is harder to install than shiplap
- -Install requires more precise nailing techniques
- -Tongue and groove could cost 50-percent more than shiplap
- -Finished boards may be sealed with toxic VOC coating.
6. PVC wall panels
While telling the aforementioned 5 paneling styles apart is hard, PVC wall panels are distinct due to their diverse shapes, designs, colors and patterns.
PVC panels are a cost-effective solution that delivers plenty of drama and affordable price.
As a great alternative to wallpaper, paint and other wall coverings, the downside is that while PVC resists corrosion and stands up to moisture, over time, chlorine used to make these panels can be released into the air.
Experts recommend shopping for UPVC (an unplasticized version) because it’s less toxic. Your cost to cover around 500 square feet of wall with UPVC panels averages between $2393 and $3739.
- -Extremely durable, long-lasting and low-maintenance
- -Available in both gloss and matt finishes
- -One of the cheapest types of paneling on the market
- -A great alternative to wood, brick and other “genuine” materials.
- -Softer than other materials used for wall panels
- -Can sustain damage from knocks and isn’t scratch-resistant
- -Isn’t as fire-resistant as UPVC panel versions
- -Has a shorter lifespan than natural material alternatives.
7. Peel & Stick reclaimed wood planking
DIYers who want walls get a lot of attention without the hard work it takes to do a typical panel project are taking a serious look at the variety of peel and stick reclaimed wood planking on today’s market.
No power tools required to install this paneling and you won’t have to devote days to finishing the job.
Arrange reclaimed wood planks any way you like: vertically, horizontally or craft a herringbone pattern by peeling the backing off thin wood plank veneers and affixing them to the wall using attached, high-bond adhesive strips.
This is an ideal solution for busy people!
- -Installation couldn’t be easier
- -Get as creative as you like
- -The slim profile allows one to mount panels directly to drywall
- -No trimming or having to remove wall outlet covers.
- -Costs will run between $10 and $16 per square foot
- -There’s no warranty on the adhesive material extending beyond 10 years
- -Will stay put longer in spaces not exposed to temperature extremes
- -Best used in small areas or to create focal points.
8. Flat Wall Panels
If wallpaper leaves you wanting more and you are looking for an attractive, cost-effective option that adds an attention-getting accent to any room in the home, flat panels deserve a second look.
You could even save money on your power bills if you elect to mount them rather than painting or wallpapering because wall paneling can help insulate a room and may dampen noise, giving a home additional defense against extreme temperatures and noise reverberation.
You’ll spend between $5.38 and $12 per square foot to cover your walls with flat panels.
- -Flat wall panels work nicely with every décor and room style
- -Panels hide existing wall flaws, blemishes and imperfections
- -You can hide cables and electrical wiring behind panels
- -Easy to clean and maintain using a damp cloth.
- -If flat wood wall panels get wet, they could rot or develop mold
- -Thin wood panels may be susceptible to warping
- -It’s hard to find flat wall panels made of sustainable woods
- -Could make a room without a personality look even more boring.
9. Raised Panels
Looking for a wall panel style that you won’t run into very often? Raised wall panels are unique because like embossing, your walls are treated to a 2D or 3D look.
While some styles are strictly hand- or machine-crafted, others use computer technology to create unique surface typography.
This type of wall panel can be painted, enameled, veneered and subjected to glossy, matte, fluorescent or metal finishes.
The most common material used to manufacture this panel type is gypsum.
Raised wall panels can be quite costly. You’ll pay between $23-$33 per square foot for unfinished oak, maple or cherry raised panels, according to Home Advisor.
- -Available in myriad colors, shapes, patterns and textures
- -Gives a room a more voluminous, impressive appearance
- -Hide wall flaws and defects from view
- -No other panel type can deliver as many special effects.
- -Recommended for large, spacious rooms; can overwhelm small rooms
- -Excess volume produced by these panels can strain eyesight
- -Due to bas relief techniques, dust accumulation can be substantive
- -Despite sealants and finishes, raised panels don’t fare well in high humidity
10. Plush felt wall paneling
Whether you’re getting the band back together or you find this product’s look to be unique and irresistible, plush felt wall paneling has your name written all over it.
These distinct wall panels deliver an elegant, sophisticated look while absorbing sound like a sponge.
If you like your rooms quiet and lush, you would be hard-pressed to find another material that competes.
Once the realm of sound studios, plush felt panels have been adopted by interior designers, but it’s impossible to find per-panel material and labor estimates, so we can’t offer you a national average.
- -Available in a wide range of colors, styles and patterns
- -The more wall you cover, the quieter the room
- -Easy to maintain using a vacuum to freshen panels
- -Sturdy, durable and these panels withstand humidity and moisture.
- -Make sure the panels you choose are made of a high-quality felt
- -Not all plush felt panels meet fire code standards
- -Could fade if exposed to non-stop sunlight
- -Vulnerable to rips, holes and other textile damage.
11. Vinyl gypsum panels (VOG)
The preferred interior wall panel used by mobile home companies, vinyl gypsum panels are popular among builders of manufactured homes because gypsum is practical, tough and nearly impervious to destruction.
Known in the trade by the acronym VOG (vinyl-over gypsum), these panels come in either 3/8-inch or ½-inch thicknesses and if you look beyond the exterior finish you’ll find these panels to be nothing more than drywall with vinyl coatings.
Color and pattern options are varied and this could be the least expensive option on our list.
- -Costs run from $1.62-$2.04 per square foot
- -Fast and easy to install using pre-wrapped matching “batten” strips as seam covers
- -Maintenance is a breeze; even crayon can be removed.
- -Less susceptible to cracks that can develop when homes settle.
- -VOG walls aren’t seamless so batten strips are important
- -Once installed, these panels can be hard to remove
- -Should a surface become damaged, no repair options currently exist
- -Colors and styles may be discontinued. Buy enough panels to do the job.
Wall Panelling Materials
Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) Panels
This artificial wood product is often used as a paneling material thanks to its affordability and durability.
It’s a product that’s commonly used in furniture production as well. Wood residuals are used to make MDF panels, contributing to how eco-friendly this recycled product is.
Medium-density fiberboard panels can be colored in all different shades, and it’s a very smooth and consistent surface compared to real wood.
MDF panels can have laminators attached to their exterior to make the product look like it’s one whole piece of real wood.
However, it’s a more dense and durable material, making it a better choice than solid wood. Its dense nature also makes it very easy to drill into and adhere to your surface.
Unfortunately, medium-density fiberboard panels can crack or split when they’re put under extreme amounts of stress.
You’ll want to be careful with them during installation. MDF also absorbs moisture faster than wood will.
You should be ok if you’re installing the panels onto a wall, as long as you don’t have moisture issues at the base of the wall.
Also, its chemical composition requires you to be very careful if you’re going to be cutting MDF boards. Always wear a mask when working with it.
Natural Wood Panels
Wood is a versatile and classic material that can be used for so many different purposes. As a wall paneling option, wood can really add a lot of character to a room.
There are many different types of wood in a variety of colors that you can choose. Shiplap and beadboard are just some of the current natural wood panel trends being used in home construction.
Wood panels have a natural insulating property that helps to keep you home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Wood panels are worth the investment when you think about the money, you’ll be saving on your utility costs each month. In addition to insulating against the elements wood panels can also enhance the acoustics of a room while adding privacy.
Wood is a very durable material that is used frequently for walls, floors, furniture, etc.
After installation, wood can last for decades. It’s not like a traditional painted wall or wallpaper which will lose its appeal over time. There’s literally no maintenance to worry about, and it’s easy to install with the right tools.
PVC wall panels are made from food-grade PVC. They look nice, but they also offer a great deal of protection when used for wall paneling.
PVC can hold up well throughout daily traffic, and they’re easy to clean. They can resist impact without the need to replace or repair them. They hold up well to chemicals, moisture and much more.
Installation of PVC paneling is usually done with a tongue and groove interlocking system. It’s very simple once you get the hang of it, and it provides a very seamless and secure look. You can choose from a variety of sizes and colors.
Chipboard is constructed using small wood chips that are pressed tightly together and then glued.
This composite design is very strong. When laminated, it has a very durable surface that is resistant to all kinds of wear and tear. It’s moisture resistant, and it can come in a variety of styles and colors.
A fabric wall panel is often used in place of wallpaper or paint. It creates a very soft look that is easy to install and maintain.
This type of wall covering is usually made with 20 to 40 percent paper that is interlaced with polyester fibers to create a lightweight product. It’s easy to wash and replace as needed.
This wall panel option is a much healthier option than a lot of other materials. If environmentally friendly is what you’re looking for, then fabric wall panels are for you. You can choose between linen, silk, synthetic fibers, etc.
Gypsum boards have a non-combustible gypsum core that has a paper surface on the back, front and edges. They may also contain fiberglass.
More commonly known as drywall or plasterboard, gypsum boards are versatile and easy to install. They typically come in lengths of 8, 10 or 12 feet, depending on what you need. You can quickly cover a large area.
Gypsum boards can be cut with a saw or knife. They are held in place using nails, staples or screws. They’re pretty lightweight, so installation is a breeze with just one or two workers.
What’s the difference between wainscoting and panel molding?
Whereas paneling can and may be installed from floor to ceiling on walls, wainscoting is usually limited to heights that cover just the bottom half or three-quarters of the wall from the floor up.
While even the simplest style of wainscoting features some type of molding at the top of each panel to differentiate it from the wall itself, molding isn’t always a feature found on panels.
Wainscoting costs between $4 and $6 per square foot for material and labor but customized designs could add up to $4,000 in labor alone, according to Home Advisor.
Is paneling cheaper than drywall?
As a direct result of the number of hours devoted to cutting and trimming wood and other panel-appropriate materials, it will always cost more to make and install panels than it would to produce a section of standard drywall.
Is Wall Paneling Outdated?
When Amanda Harding was commissioned to write an article about the “Most Hated Home Design Trends That Are Back in Style Now,” she had no trouble choosing the first on her list: Wood paneling.
Thanks to home designers like Joanna Gaines, wall panels aren’t just trendy but the number of types and styles on the market continues to grow.
What was brand new and exciting back in the 1970s has returned big time, so you might conclude that wall panels — in any number of versions — are back to stay!
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