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Wood Paneling: New Spins on an American Classic

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Whether DIY or high-end, wood paneling offers timeless appeal and enduring good looks.

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An Ageless Motif

When it came time to spruce up her home office, this home owner had the right angles — a wood-paneled wall in a vibrant herringbone pattern. She bought pre-packaged tongue-and-groove knotty pine wainscotting ($10 for 9 sq. ft.) and stained the pieces three different colors. Tip: Pine tends to stain unevenly, so treat boards with a pre-stain conditioner for best results.


Credit: Lindsay Ballard/Makely School for Girls

Image: Lindsay Ballard/Makely School for Girls
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  • When it came time to spruce up her home office, this home owner had the right angles — a wood-paneled wall in a vibrant herringbone pattern. She bought pre-packaged tongue-and-groove knotty pine wainscotting ($10 for 9 sq. ft.) and stained the pieces three different colors. Tip: Pine tends to stain unevenly, so treat boards with a pre-stain conditioner for best results.


    Credit: Lindsay Ballard/Makely School for Girls

  • This pretty paneled wall started life as four sheets of thin (¼-inch-thick) plywood underlayment. At about $11 per sheet, the total cost was less than $45. The enterprising home owners had Home Depot rip the panels into 6-inch-wide planks — custom cuts are a free service! They nailed up the planks, leaving a ¼-inch-wide gap between each plank for texture. A little paint and standard baseboard finished it off.


    Credit: Anyone Can Decorate

  • A legacy from the early 20th century, this high-waisted wainscotting features the square, angular details of Frank Lloyd Wright and Prairie School design motifs. The wide panels originally would have been made of solid wood, but today plywood panels provide the same look for much less money. Installed, this wainscotting costs about $10 per sq. ft.


    Credit: New England Classic

  • Wood paneling can make a strong architectural statement. Installed overhead, this paneling carries the eye toward a masonry fireplace focal point. These narrow walnut planks were installed with gaps between them for added texture. Most building codes require that wood paneling such as this be installed over drywall for fire safety.


    Credit: William Hefner, AIA/Studio William Hefner

  • These handsome wood tiles ($10-$24 per sq. ft.) are made from lumber reclaimed from abandoned Colorado barns. Each tile is fully sealed with a clear, low-VOC coating. Because wood tile installations don’t use grout, care should be taken in areas where there’s water. In a bathroom, use waterproof drywall behind wood tiles, and wipe up splashes immediately.


    Credit: Everitt & Schilling Tile

  • Want a log cabin but don’t have the cash? These home owners solved their rustic cravings with resawn aspen logs taken from dead trees on their property. Each log was cut to length, then split in half lengthwise using a bandsaw. They first installed log trim around windows and doors, then fastened the aspen “tiles” in place with a pneumatic nail gun. They saved money, but the project took two years to complete.


    Credit: John Boak

  • If you find new beauty in old stuff, have we got a wall for you. Made up of scraps of lumber from old gym floors and reclaimed siding, this professionally made paneling is carefully designed prior to installation. Dashes of original paint liven up the look. A 10-by-8-foot wall is about $3,000.


    Credit: Sarah Reiss/R&R Designworks

  • These frame-and-panel walls are made of solid gumwood, and they’re original to this 19th-century home. Time had taken its toll, so the walls were painted a demure green and topped with a wide crown moulding. Updated with contemporary touches, the room retains the timeless appeal of this traditional wall treatment.


    Credit: LDa Architecture & Interiors | Photo © Eric Roth

  • A favorite design motif of the 1960s, knotty pine paneling is making a comeback. Inexpensive and readily available, knotty pine paneling comes as solid wood boards in various widths, usually with tongue-and-groove edges. It’s also available in prefinished plywood sheets. You’ll pay $1 to $2 per sq. ft. The paneling shown here features random-width boards with a beaded edge for added texture.


    Credit: Interior Design: Judy Cook Interiors | photo: (A)SquaredStudio

  • Reclaimed from old agricultural structures, barn wood has proven durability and warm, mellow colors. The brand shown here is carefully color-matched and milled for straightness. It’s kiln-dried to ensure stability, a process that also kills any wood-boring insects that may have infiltrated the boards. You’ll pay $7 to $10 per square foot for premium barn wood.

    Want more reuse ideas? Check out our slideshow on smart uses for salvaged building materials.


    Credit: Pioneer Mill Works

  • If you like these, you may want to take a spin through HouseLogic’s library of slideshows.

     

  • An Ageless Motif
  • A Little Help from Big-Box Friends
  • An American Classic
  • Pretty in Paneling
  • From Barn to Bath
  • Cabin Chic
  • Scrappy Wall Paneling
  • Timeless Good Looks
  • A Blast From the Past
  • Barn Again
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  • Image: Lindsay Ballard/Makely School for Girls
  • Image: Anyone Can Decorate
  • Image: New England Classic
  • Image: William Hefner, AIA/Studio William Hefner
  • Image: Everitt & Schilling Tile
  • Image: John Boak
  • Image: Sarah Reiss/R&R Designworks
  • Image: LDa Architecture & Interiors/Photo © Eric Roth
  • Image: Interior Design: Judy Cook Interiors | photo: (A)SquaredStudio
  • Image: Pioneer Mill Works