Wood Wall Paneling 101: Considerations And Design Ideas

January 3, 2019

When creating an accent wall or desiring a durable, long-lasting wall covering, many people choose to use wall paneling in their homes and businesses. Wall paneling is elegant, rich warm additions to any space. Whether you choose a wood filled with character or something with a more consistent finish, wood paneling can really enhance any interior design.

Like many materials for use in the home, wall paneling comes in many styles and with many options to choose from. New cut wood wall paneling is one option that can offer many benefits to home and business owners looking for the perfect wall accent or covering.

All wood wall paneling differs from other available options in several ways. Its beauty and consistency are what set it apart and make it the right choice for so many installations.


cut wood wall paneling

Regardless of what type of paneling you choose, wood has a lot of options and benefits for users. When discussing new cut wood, the label is simply to differentiate it from other types of wood being used in wall paneling, including antique and reclaimed wood. New cut wood is wood that has been recently harvested and has not had a previous use or life prior to being made into wall paneling.

Benefits of New Cut

There are many benefits of this wood, which is why so many people opt to use it for their projects.

New cut wood can have better control for consistency in color and texture in the wall paneling. While reclaimed or mixed-use wood may have wood taken from several species or several areas and may contain wood that varies in tone, color and grain pattern, new cut wood offers greater similarities. The color, grain pattern and sizing of the boards is controlled throughout the process.

This means that samples you may see or displays you may visit will be a lot closer to what you will actually use than other types of wood paneling. If you want a very exotic wood or something with a more subtle color or texture, these are things you can control when using new cut wood.

In addition, you may find more control in the sizing of the boards, which can make for a more consistent placement and installation. When you prepare for the installation, you’re planning is less difficult, as new cut wood offers better control and consistency, meeting your goals more easily.


Reclaimed wood paneling also has many benefits, but differs from new cut paneling is several ways. Rather than being made of freshly harvested wood, the wood used in reclaimed paneling is likely more than 100 years old, having already been used in other applications such as barns and other old buildings.

Benefits of Reclaimed

Reclaimed wood often shows some of the marks of its previous life. This may be a rich patina, saw marks or nail holes. These marks are not always present, and the wood often has more variation to it in terms of tone and color than newly cut wood.

Reclaimed wood is always cleaned and freshly milled for its new use, but different species of wood or different sources of wood may be mixed together in one panel. This lends richness and depth to the paneling, as well as a lot more interest. When saw marks and other characters or use marks are present, these panels also grant their history to the room. A wall panel made of reclaimed wood is a focal point and a conversation piece, rather than simply a backdrop.

Like new cut paneling, you can find reclaimed wood paneling in a wide selection of colors and some different wood species. And like new cut wood, this paneling is made to last. While the wood has already been in use for decades, it still has many years of use left in it. Using this wood is environmentally friendly since no new trees are harvested helping your home achieve a green status.


wood wall paneling options

One of the benefits of choosing wall paneling made of new cut wood is the ability to select the species of wood and to know its characteristics ahead of time. New cut wood is available in several species, with sources that can allow you to feel comfortable with what you’re receiving. Each wood has its own grain patterns, personality and color tones that can let you find the right one for your installation.

Some types of reclaimed wood paneling are also available in different species, while some types are mixed together. Both can give you a beautiful look for your wall, but there is less control with reclaimed paneling.


cherry wood wall paneling

American cherry wood is one of the most popular wood species for use in interior design. Clear or unfinished cherry has a warm, rich color all on its own, which darkens naturally over time when exposed to warmth and humidity. Cherry has a consistent grain and color pattern that is instantly recognizable. Installing cherry wood wall paneling in your home adds warmth and character, while easily matching cabinetry, flooring and other wood in the home.


walnut wood wall paneling

American Walnut is another species that has a lot of popularity and instant recognizability for its color and durability. Walnut has a deep, rich color with the heartwood tending nearly toward purple and the sapwood slightly lighter in tone and color. It has a lot of variation in grain and is one of the most sought after woods for cabinets and wall paneling.


ash wood wall paneling

Ash is a wood that is commonly mistaken for oak. It varies tremendously from sapwood to heartwood, with the sapwood containing creamy white and light, grey-brown tones and the heartwood has a deeper, richer brown color. Ash is a classic looking wood that works well in formal and traditional settings that don’t necessarily need a dark background.

White Oak

white oak wood wall paneling

White oak is one of the most traditional and versatile woods out there. It has a natural, blue/grey finish color with a creamy white background. It can be brushed or polished, formal or rustic in appearance. It works well in nearly any home, depending on the color of the finish.


hickory wood wall paneling

Hickory is one of the strongest domestic hardwoods available. It can be very coarse-grained and wildly varied in color and grain. The grain may be straight or dramatic and wavy, and its colors can range from creamy white to deep brown even in one plank. This is one hardwood that will create a dramatic statement in any setting.


pine wood wall paneling

Pine has one of the most classic and traditional appearances of any wood. Pine ranges from soft to hard in strength, which means that the boards can develop a lot of character over time, with saw marks, sap and knots showing easily. This makes pine ideal for creating a rustic style in any home.

Milled Barn Wood

milled barn wood wall paneling

For a wall panel that has maximum character and appeal, consider milled barnwood. Milled barnwood is taken from old barns, then milled to give them new life and a new finish. Barnwood has many tones and shades from the weathering that the wood withstood in its lifetime, which is part of what gives it enormous appeal.

Douglas Fir

douglas fir wood wall paneling

Douglas fir is another well-known wood that can give you a very traditional and rustic or rustic-modern look for your walls. It has a pronounced grain and a rich pink/gold color, along with visible sap marks and knot holes. More consistent than some pines, Douglas fir will give you character that you can count on.


wall paneling

Wall paneling gives you more options and personalization choices than any other form of wall cladding. You can choose from not only different species of wood, but also different color finishes and textures, which can let you compliment a wider range of styles and designs within your home.

Because you have these options, it’s possible to make more out of your interior design by selecting your new cut wood to match existing wood and finishes already in your home. For example, if you want to include an accent wall in your living room, which is open to a kitchen where you have oak cabinets, you can select oak paneling in a finish and color that will complement your kitchen. This can give you a more cohesive design and appearance for your home.

Reclaimed wood also lets you make more of your design, but by setting the tone and style for the space. Using milled barnwood, for example, will let you bring a rustic-modern vibe to your home.

Beyond matching or complementing any other wood finishes in the home, there are also a few other considerations to make when choosing your wall paneling. This includes the amount of light you receive, where the wall will be placed and how much focus it gets in the room.

For example, homes that are darker or that don’t have a lot of natural light may do better with a wall panel that has been given a very light finish, like Winter Storm Walnut.

winter storm walnut

This very light finish will maximize the light existing in the room, but still has all the warmth and beauty of walnut showing through the light color. This is also an ideal color for small rooms because the cool undertones can help make a small space appear larger.

For rooms that need more character, however, and need a focal point as well as a finish for the walls, it’s better to choose a panel that’s got a lot more character to it. This may mean choosing something with a rustic finish where the knot holes and texture will become an accent on their own. It may also mean selecting a more prominent grain for your wood, such as unfinished or clear finished Hickory.

clear finished hickory

With its strong grain and variation from light to dark, this is a wall panel made to stand out from the crowd. You can mix a lot of different accent colors into the room, simply pulling from the different shades within the wood, and all of them will be sure to match the style. This type of setting is ideal for informal rooms, where you want a slightly more exotic and different impact from the decor.

More contemporary settings that need a statement piece should consider opting for a very dark wood finish that won’t compete with other colors and statements already in the room. For example, using Black Cherry for a wall panel would make a dramatic backdrop to other colors and accents in the space.

black cherry

Black Cherry has a very rich, dark color, but it isn’t entirely black. For that reason, the warm undertones of the cherrywood peeking out behind the finish will soften the wall paneling and keep the room from appearing too stark or unlived in, the way that some very contemporary spaces can get.

When you want to make a formal, impressive statement either in a home or a business, it’s hard to go wrong with classic white oak. White oak in all its finishes is beautiful and tasteful. It helps create a more formal atmosphere in the home and is therefore ideal with nearly any setting that is meant to impress.

white oak

White oak’s consistency is what makes it ideal for these settings. It doesn’t vary tremendously from piece to piece, so it has a quieter presence that sets the tone for the rest of the space.


Wood paneling is ideal for a wide range of applications. You can use them in homes and businesses and in a variety of positions. A few ideas for installations include:

Kitchen islands and peninsulas where the different wood grains and direction of the paneling can either contrast or complement the cabinetry – This adds dimension and interest to the kitchen design.

kitchen island

Fireplace surrounds, particularly gas fireplace surrounds, or the area above the mantel, to the ceiling – This is particularly ideal for rustic-style wall paneling, as the texture of the wood can be the ideal complement to other woodwork in the room.

Slab-style cabinetry, which can use the paneling to create a unique, more interesting looking slab door – Rather than a single piece of wood, using the paneling to face the doors adds more variation to the design.

slab style cabinetry

Accents to surround another area – This may be in a lobby, where you want to highlight a brand name, or it can be in a living room to highlight a picture window. Either way, using wood wall paneling to frame and accent an area can make a very striking appearance in the room.

accent walls

Full wall coverings are also a possibility with wood wall paneling. Using multiple paneling boards across a single wall adds a lot of character and warmth to a room. Having paneling that doesn’t quite line up with one another can add a lot of dimension as well, giving the walls the appearance that they are longer than they are.

multiple paneling boards

It’s also possible to wrap corners around walls to turn a corner with wall paneling. This gives the wall a thicker, more substantial presence. You can also use this technique to cover columns as well, adding more interest to an otherwise plain space.

corner walls

Wall paneling can also be used to help flesh out partitions and create more dimension in a space. Offices or areas where you need to divide a more open space can get a lot more character by building walls from wood wall paneling, rather than other types of walls or dividers.

office wall paneling

Wall paneling installs easily on any clean, dry and stable substrate. The paneling boards are designed to fit into one another to make a smooth installation.

Always do a dry fit layout before installing. Measure the space you will install them on, and mark off a space of the same size on the floor nearby. Fit the individual boards together in the space, and make any necessary cuts to the edges using a circular saw.

Begin installing from the bottom row up. Use an adhesive to attach the individual boards to the wall, then nail them securely into place. Take careful measurements of where any outlets or switches are located, and use an extender box inside the outlet before piecing carefully around the outlets. Use your dry fit to make sure that the measurements for the outlets work out and that the pieces you cut will fit around them. Double-check their fit on the wall before you use adhesive. Whenever possible, install up to the bottom of the outlet first, then start with a new row above, filling in cut sections on the sides.


Wood wall paneling gives you a lot of customization options. For that reason, it’s important to reach out directly to the manufacturer with your needs. This includes measurements of the space, the color, style, and finish of the wood you want, as well as where the area is that you will be installing on. Contact Elmwood Reclaimed Timber to get the wood wall paneling that you need to complete your perfect interior design.

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