4 Expert Tips To Choose Wall Paneling For Your Home

Wall paneling is a great way to revolutionize any room in your home at a fraction of the cost of a full remodel. When you choose your paneling carefully, you can add instant depth and dimension to your walls, not to mention, you'll be giving your walls an extra layer of protection, which can come in handy if you have drywall installed. Here are some expert tips you can use to make the best choice in drywall possible.

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1. What are the types of wall paneling?

As we begin our journey into the realm of wall paneling, we'll start by taking a quick look at the various types of paneling available.

Frame and Panel

Frame and panel options can be challenging to understand if you're not well versed in wall design. These types of panels are typically designed to extend from the bottom half of your wall, up to the average height of the back of a chair.

Frame and panels are described as such because of how they are arranged once installed. They sit above the skirting boards and underneath the chair rail, which constructs a "frame" around your wooden panel.

Skirting boards are a type of molding that sits at the bottom of your wall and serves to cover the joint of the wall and flooring. They serve as a protection against scratches and bumps, like the chair rail, which sits around the height of the back of a chair. Chair rails protect your walls from being scratched or stained by chair backs dragging against them.

Vertical and Horizontal Lining Board

Lining boards are a lot simpler to understand than frame and panel arrangements. These boards can be placed in a variety of arrangements and patterns. Despite their name, they can be arranged in unique ways and open a number of style options.

Typically, lining boards are easy to install and come made in a variety of materials including medium density fiberboard, vinyl-coated gypsum and high-density EPS (a type of foam).

Shiplap

Shiplap panels are inspired by design used by shipbuilders to prevent water from reaching the insides of ships by slipping in between panels. Shiplap panels are boards that overlap one another using a "tongue" and a "groove" that interlock.

Originally, this interlocking (paired with other primitive chemical treatments) was what prevented water from entering the inner chambers of ships. Nowadays, the design is simply decorative, but the interlocking can contribute a little to thermal insulation.

Shiplap Peel and Stick Solid Wood Wall Paneling
Shiplap Peel and Stick Wood Wall Paneling
Shiplap Light Wood Wall Paneling
Shiplap Engineered Wood Wall Paneling in White
Shiplap Solid Wood Wall Paneling in White
Shiplap Solid Wood Wall Paneling

Faux Brick

Faux brick paneling has grown in popularity recently as textures have become increasingly realistic. As you probably have guessed by the name, faux brick wall paneling is, of course not made of brick. These panels can be found in vinyl, manufactured wood and EPS foam and are usually adhesive to preserve the integrity of the design after installation.

Faux brick wall panels often use repeating patterns that you can size to fit your wall or mix and match as you see fit. Doing so is also easy since these panels can be cut via scissors and can interlock almost regardless of which angle you cut them from.

Faux Brick Metal Wall Paneling
Faux Brick Vinyl Wall Paneling in Light Gray
Faux Brick Wall Paneling in Off-White Marble
Faux Brick Mixed Material Mosaic Tile
Faux Brick Wall Paneling in White
Faux Brick Peel and Stick Engineered Wood Wall Paneling

Tin Backsplash

Tin backsplash panels are another style that has become popular due to increases in the quality of design. When installing panels like these, you aren't simply putting up a wallpaper that "sort of" looks like a tin backsplash. Modern designs are so accurate that your wall will look just as if it is made from tin.

Unlike faux brick, tin backsplash isn't found made from as many materials. Instead, you will readily find tin backsplash panels made from Vinyl and PVC.

Tin Backsplash Vinyl Wall Paneling in Bronze
Tin Backsplash PVC Wall Paneling in Brushed Aluminum
Tin Backsplash PVC Wall Paneling
Tin Backsplash PVC Wall Paneling in Bronze
Tin Backsplash Traditional Vinyl Wall Paneling
Tin Backsplash Traditional Vinyl Wall Paneling in White

2. How are wall panels installed?

How easy or hard a type of panel is to install should be something you think deeply about when choosing your wall paneling. If you have access to professional help and a large budget, then you can feel free to ignore or only lightly consider this tip, but if you're hoping to maximize your savings and energy, this next section is for you.

Adhesive Paneling

There are two types of adhesive paneling you will come across in your journey for fancy new walls. The first and most common is peel and stick paneling.

  • Peel and Stick Paneling

As the name suggests, peel and stick paneling, is the easiest type of paneling to install, since all you'll need to do is peel off the plastic protecting the adhesive and apply the paneling where you want it to be applied.

Normally, power and other cutting tools will not be required for the installation of peel and stick paneling. We strongly recommend, however, the use of rulers, levels, and any other tools you can find to create a detailed outline of where you'll be placing your panels. The adhesive on peel and stick panels is very powerful, so once you've put a panel in place, it can be tricky to remove it. Having an outline will help protect you against misplaced panels.

  • Super Glue Paneling

Super glue paneling is practically the same as peel and stick paneling, with the additional requirement of a liquid adhesive. This additional step can complicate things since you'll need to be a little careful about how much you apply.

Adding an overabundance of superglue can cause it to seep into cracks between panels, ruining the aesthetic of your new wall paneling.

  • Nail-In Paneling

The other major type of installation requires some work with nails and the location of vertical wall studs if you're making installation into drywall. At the most, you will require the same measuring tools as our adhesive examples above, as well as a tool for putting your nails in place.

We recommend the use of nail guns instead of hammers since you'll run far less risk of damaging your wall with an errant strike. It's a good idea to get an extra 10 sq. ft. of wall paneling if you're a first-time installer since you'll inevitably make mistakes that damage individual panels. Having an extra 10 sq. ft. will cover these first few mistakes and save you the stress of making a follow-up order and installation.

Peel and Stick Light Wood Wall Paneling
Peel and Stick Vinyl Wall Paneling in Brown
Glue Down Wall Paneling in Gloss White
Glue Down Solid Wood Wall Paneling
Staple Wood Wall Paneling
Nail-in Wall Paneling in Wood

3. What are the best materials for my wall paneling?

The material you choose for your paneling can have a great impact on the atmosphere created in your rooms. Let's look at the types of material available in wall paneling and which material could be best for you.

  • Vinyl

Vinyl paneling is extremely common and can be designed in an incredible number of ways. It is lightweight, which makes it easy to work with and install and is normally found as a peel and stick panel. Vinyl is easy to maintain and only requires moderate cleaning with a damp cloth and light cleaning solution from time to time.

Vinyl is naturally resistant to water, so you won't have to worry about humidity or surprise leaks damaging your panels too much.

In addition to the variety of styles available on vinyl panels, vinyl is easy to repaint, if you have access to a high-quality acrylic paint. So, you'll never truly be stuck with one design and you always have the option to customize your patterns to suit your needs.

  • Wood Panels

Wood panels have a lot in common with vinyl ones. They can be easy to paint or refinish as you see fit and are commonly available as peel and stick panels. Solid wood wall panels can be a bit heavy, so you should think ahead on how you transport your order to your place of installation.

Unlike vinyl panels, wooden ones are vulnerable to water damage and thus, large humidity and temperature fluctuations in your home can cause panels to peel, warp, or rot.  Luckily, wood panels are easy to repair since you can simply sand away rot and warping and refinish them to match the original installation. 

If you're thinking that regular maintenance might be an issue for you but still want wooden panels, consider making an investment into hardwood paneling. Hardwoods naturally resist rotting and water damage more than other woods, so you will find yourself having less work to do to maintain your panel health.

MDF and other types of engineered wood, can save you a lot on your initial buy, but require additional maintenance. MDF is a particulate wood, meaning it has been created by using adhesive and pressure to join wood particles together into a single sheet. This method of construction leaves gaps in wood that leave it especially vulnerable to water and rot.

  • EPS foam

EPS stands for expanded polystyrene, which is a type of foam that you might know as Styrofoam.

Technically, Styrofoam is a term that is used to describe EPS commercially, while EPS is a term that technically describes a few varieties of this foam. EPS makes for phenomenal wall paneling material since it provides thermal insulation, sound insulation and can be molded freely to create 3D designs on your paneling.

Modern Vinyl Wall Paneling in White
Vinyl Wall Paneling in White
Solid Hardwood Wall Paneling in Acacia
Solid Wood Wall Paneling in Blue and Grey
Rustic Engineered Wood Wall Paneling
Rose Styled Vinyl Wall Paneling

4. What is the best style for my home?

Style is always a subjective choice, so ultimately, you'll need to find ways to visualize potential panels in your home to know whether they are well suited or not. Ideally, you should order a small sample of a variety of wall paneling that you might be considering for your home.

If, for example, you have a few vinyl samples that you think could look good on your walls, order 1-2 sq. ft. of each variety and lightly secure them to your walls. Having an actual physical sample will allow you to see how well each style lines up not only with your furniture and surrounding décor but how they work with your lighting as well.

Be sure to repeat this process at various times of the day and in all lighting situations you will encounter. If you have dimming lights, cycle through the full range of lighting available.

Here is some general guidance of what panels go well with what style:

  • As a rule of thumb, natural wood grains do well in colorful decors, especially with cool white lighting. Wood grains reflect a relaxed and warm tone of light, which suits colors quite well.

  • EPS, 3D paneling does extremely well when contrasted with wooden flooring and in warm white light. 3D paneling can also be well suited for homes with a modern design since 3D panels can add depth, which is often lacking in modern design.

  • White faux brick is great for modern & minimalistic interiors, whereas imitation of red brick will match industrial lofts or large rooms in barn-style houses;

  • Monochrome, sleek tin backsplash tiles will complement modern decors, but if you are an enthusiast of French country decor, choose ornate tin tiles in lighter shades.

Jessica started out as an interior photographer, but her love of pretty settings took her to the field of interior design, where she can combine two of her greatest passions, creating and then capturing the beauty of homes.