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Though wood paneling may seem like a relic of the 1960s and 1970s culture, it can actually be the perfect way to add stylish flair to a twenty-first century home.

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What Is Wood Paneling?

Wood paneling is a type of wall finish made from thin wood panels. Originally, home builders used wood paneling for structural purposes before plaster walls came into fashion. The style made a strong comeback during the mid-century modern period, and it is still common in today’s new construction and remodeling projects. Most contemporary wood paneling, though, does not serve a structural purpose but exists purely as a way to add character to plain walls.

5 Types of Wood Paneling

You can create wood paneling from a variety of wood materials. These include solid wood, plywood, salvaged wood (also called reclaimed wood), corkboard, or types of fiberboard such as presswood or MDF. Using these types of wood, architects and designers enjoy a variety of wood paneling styles, including:

  1. Beadboard: Beadboard uses wide strips of wood with specially milled edges. A common style features two-and-a-half-inch-wide strips with a beaded edge on one side (the tongue side) and a rounded edge on the other side (the groove side) that covers the joint. Some beadboards use a chamfered edge instead of a rounded edge.
  2. Shiplap: Shiplap paneling is a centuries-old design. Shiplap boards have interlocking joints that allow them to overlap with a minimal gap (although some builders intentionally insert an eighth-inch gap to make each individual board stand out). If the millwork on your wood planks is high quality, the installation process for a shiplap wall should be easy.
  3. Drop siding: This variant on shiplap paneling has a curve on the face of one side of the board, which makes it good for horizontal alignment. Whether you're building an exterior or interior wall covering, use real wood for drop siding since it showcases the grain of natural wood.
  4. Board-and-batten: This style of wood wall paneling is useful for both interior and exterior walls. It features wide strips of wood laid side by side; the seams between these wide boards are covered with a much thinner strip of wood called a “batten.”
  5. V-groove: A popular interior style, v-groove boards are chamfered on both edges. Beneath these edges, a tongue-and-groove-style carving lets the boards easily interlock.
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9 Ways to Use Wood Paneling in Your Home

When properly used, wood paneling can look great in modern design. The design ideas below can help you get the most out of wood panels in your own space.