July 16, 2020
Learn all about wood panelling on walls to bring warmth to your home
The images that are conjured up when thinking about wood wall panelling are more often than not stuffy enclosed timber clad rooms. But nothing could be further from the reality of contemporary wood wall panelling.
Although first made popular by architects and designers like Augustus Pugin and William Morris during the Arts and Crafts movement nowadays modern wood panelling is fresh, bright and evokes an organic inside/outside ambience for interior décor. There exists any number of options and configurations to panel walls with wood featuring traditional rustic effect and more avant-garde approaches. Undoubtedly the application of wood wall panelling sheets to surfaces lends an entirely different character and can radically alter a space.
Foundations and damp proof courses are a modern invention to cope with settlement and rising damp.
Before the modern era wood wall panelling was a way to lend warmth to interiors especially with stone construction and combat the damp on exterior walls.
Before considering the different ways that panels can be applied to walls it is important to consider the choices. Wall panelling can be made from ceramic tiles or any number of agglomerates (like MDF) as well as natural wood options. All have their advantages and disadvantages.
The use of wood panelling however is not only aesthetically pleasing but extremely practical. The hallway is most commonly the space in the home where deliveries are made, where you and your visitors divest themselves of over coats, so protecting walls is not only decorative but advisable. Similarly in the dining room the wainscot is a traditional device for keeping walls scuff free. And even in the bedroom by combining wall panelling and a bed board helps prevent marks and stains on walls.
The Scandinavians are a great place to start when looking at references for beautiful wall panelling. Alvar Aalto the mid-century Finnish architect was renowned for bringing the woods and forests of his native country into his interiors for both public and private projects. The walls of the homes he designed were considered transition spaces between the outdoors and the indoors. By installing timber wall and ceiling panelling in a vertical alignment the notion of trees and forestry is evoked.
Panelling is the architectural equivalent of a warm embrace. Like fire the use of wood is a primordial element deeply connected with our notions of home and hearth. Wood panelling in the living room is therefore ideally suited to the chimney breast, whether it be a gas or coal fire. However a feature wall can also present an ideal opportunity for wood panelling or indeed can be used on more than one wall.
There is no better application of the wood panelling on walls than in the dining room, or even on walls adjacent to the dining table if it is not a separate room. The traditional wainscot and dado rail ensured protection to walls avoiding marks from the backs of dining chairs.
The bathroom can also benefit from the aesthetic embellishment of wood wall panelling. Ceramic panelling is recommended in the bathroom to avoid problems with damp and humidity. Used within a shower enclosure or a bath surround the effect can be enveloping or above a wash hand basin purely decorative. Click here for some visual inspiration and discover 5 amazing bathrooms with wood effect wall tiles.
Within the bedroom a practical and attractive option is to combine the head board with wood panelling. The entire wall behind the bed can become a feature, and for an even more impacting finish use herringbone or chevron style timber effect ceramic tiles.
Whether you live in a Neo-Arts and Crafts style house, a Mid-Twentieth Century bungalow or a modest Wimpey semi-detached on a cul-de-sac there is a style of wood panelling that will enhance your home. Vertical or horizontal planks, flat panels, modelled panels, full height or half height, combined with dado rails or mouldings. Shadows details between panels or ship lap tongue and groove there are any number of stylistic options to choose from.
There are several words in architectural terminology that refer to wood panelling. Wainscot is a term derived from the use of oak boards traditionally used for wall panelling. Today it is understood as a term referring to wall panelling above the skirting board but below the dado rail. The dado rail is also known as the chair rail and consists of a timber or plaster moulding which itself is a type of panel. Boiserie on the other hand is derived from the French baroque style wood panelling that is more decorative and can be extremely intricate.
Wood panelling provides warmth, a decorative feature and a protective cladding for walls.
Probably less than you think. For a bargain basement approach MDF panels can be cut to measure and varnished. Soft wood is also a cheap and cheerful wood panelling option. Ceramic tiles are the next best value choice and finally hardwoods like teak or mahogany are at the more expensive end of the scale.
Depending on what material is used and how modelled the wood wall panels are spraying is recommended for an overall even effect. Use two colour tones to spruce up soft wood panelling. For a tongue and groove wainscot a simple whitewash will suffice.
After the wood panelling has thoroughly acclimatised (usually 24 hours) mix a solution of half and half water and white paint. Cover a small area of panelling using a paintbrush. Wipe off excess paint with a rag or clean cloth. Continues till the entire panelling is complete.