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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

Stair panelling ideas you'll want to steal

Updated: Mar 31

Panelling on the stairs is usually a good idea!

white picture frame moulding stair panelling with stair runner

This blog post is packed full of stair panelling ideas. I love wood stair panelling, as you might have gathered if you're a regular around here! I'm currently in the process of installing it on my own staircase and know only too well about the transformative power of the dado rail and beautiful wood panels when it comes to enhancing your staircase walls. This post is all about inspiration to give you ideas about how to complete a staircase transformation. If you're looking for step-by-step guides and more practical DIY advice, then you need one of the following posts instead (but why not have a scroll through anyway as who doesn't love looking at beautiful stairs!

​Types of wood panelling for stairs

Whether you're putting your stamp on a new build or looking to spruce up a narrow hallway with a long stretch of space, finding the right stair panelling can make a world of difference. Here are some great hallway decor ideas to get you inspired. It's easy to see why interior designers everywhere consider wooden stair panelling a great idea for creating a cohesive look throughout your home.

1. Tongue and groove stair panelling wall

Tongue and groove wall panels on staircase

Tongue and groove or beadboard is a great way to add traditional style to staircase walls. With its clean lines, tongue and groove wall panelling creates a cohesive look that complements the traditional features of a home without making too much of a statement. It's an excellent staircase panelling idea for narrow hallways or transitional spaces, providing visual interest and a timeless look. It's simple and pared back and can be a great way to hide uneven or damaged walls as, unlike some of the others, this type of wall panelling covers the whole space. 

2. Shiplap wall panelling

shiplap wall panelling for stairs

Shiplap is a modern twist on traditional wood panelling, offering a versatile option for staircase design. I saw a lot of shiplap on the US-based home accounts for years but it's definitely made its way over to the UK with a bang in the past couple. You can install it vertically or horizontally, but for staircases I think vertically is the obvious choice. Shiplap wall panelling adds visual interest and serves as a focal point whilst offering a resilient surface in high traffic areas and is a great way to cover damaged walls. 

3. Staircase panel moulding

Picture-frame moulding is an excellent staircase design idea that adds a bold statement to stair walls. It's the type of wood wall panelling that I plumped for recently and I'm really happy with the results.

It reminds me of those beautiful Parisian apartments filled with character. You need to use a bit of maths knowledge to calculate the angles but I've written a post about how to template these angles easily here - so don't let that put you off!

4. Shaker-style stair panelling

board and batten stairs panelling and stair runner
Image:Tapi Carpets&Floors

By far the simplest form of wall panelling, shaker-style wall panelling aka board and batten panelling is a versatile option for staircase walls, offering a modern, characterful look. It's easy to install and cost-effective, too, as mdf strips cost very little in DIY stores. Board and batten stair panelling can be complemented with top mouldings or even wallpaper panels to add visual interest and enhance the overall aesthetic of the staircase.

5. Traditional square panelling

Square panel panelling is a timeless look that adds visual interest and a traditional feel. It can look very Tudor-esque or very modern depending on the amount of detail added and the choice of wood and paint colour, and finish.

Tips for success with wooden stairs panelling

  • Preserve the original features of an older home by opting for wooden stairs panelling that complements the historic charm and character of the property.

  • Ensure a perfect match between the wood panelling and existing architectural elements to maintain continuity and visual harmony throughout the staircase. Matching the detailing with coving and architraves is a good way to do this. 

  • Consider focusing on the lower half of the staircase walls for wooden panelling, especially in narrow spaces where it can make a significant impact without overwhelming the area.

  • Measure the space and allow for extra 

Benefits of wooden stairs panelling

Here are just some of the benefits of wooden panelling on stairs

  • Easy Installation - with pre-cut wood strips or MDF sheets and step-by-step guides, the installation process is straightforward.

  • Durability - wooden panelling, especially when made from MDF sheets or pre-cut wood strips, offers durability and longevity, even in high-traffic areas.

  • Enhanced character and aesthetics - whether it's wall moulding or wainscoting panels, wooden panelling is the perfect way to inject some personality into new build homes or homes that lack features associated with period charm.

  • Versatility - wooden panelling can be left in its natural state for a rustic charm or painted to suit your interior schemes, as we have seen above there are a bunch of different styles to adopt so you can pick the one(s) best suited to your interior style.

Where next?

Here's a selection of panelling-related blog posts you might enjoy...

I hope you've found some of these ideas inspiring and useful, let me know in the comments if you try any of them. Be sure to scroll to the very bottom of the page & hit the subscribe button to receive my monthly newsletter which is packed full of tutorials, updates and offers.