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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

  • Claire Douglas

Half wall paneling ideas to inspire your next DIY project

Updated: 5 days ago

half wall slat paneling
Image credit: Walls and Floors

This post is all about half-wall paneling ideas because I’m a huge fan of paneling and, over the past few years, have added it to most rooms in our house. There are loads of different types of wall paneling (I’ve experimented with most!) and each has different pros and cons. 

Adding half-wall paneling is such an achievable DIY project so I thought a blog post dedicated to it would be a great opportunity to share some DIY tips and tricks as well as lots of interior inspiration to get you itching to start your next DIY. 

Benefits of Half-Wall Paneling

There are so many ways that half-wall paneling can add character and interest to a space as an individual addition or as part of a room makeover. Here are some of the benefits...

Add structure and texture

Half wall paneling introduces architectural detail and dimension to a room, breaking up large expanses of plain walls. The added texture and structure make for an interesting backdrop for your furniture and accessories and can help create stylish vignettes. My favourite fluted mdf paneling provides brilliant texture in the form of its fluted surface. 

Embrace a variety of styles

As we have seen, half wall paneling comes in a variety of styles, from classic picture moulding to more modern designs. Your choice of paneling style allows you to make a style statement and give clues about your personality and interior style. I’ve taken this one step further recently and mixed paneling types within a room - I’m looking forward to sharing this project soon. 

Define the space

Half wall paneling ideas are often used to define different areas within a larger space. We have an open plan layout in the downstairs of our home and adding panelling to areas can zone them, defining, for example, the snug/TV area from the dining area. 

Create a focal point

By implementing one of the half wall paneling ideas, you can create a focal point within a room. The panels draw the eye and provide a point of interest, which is a great way to guide your guest's attention around a space or prevent a room from feeling flat and dull. 

A nod to history

If you have an old house and have installed some classic half-wall paneling, this can evoke a sense of history and tradition. Classic paneling styles like wainscoting bring a timeless charm to a space, connecting it to architectural styles of the past and giving your interiors a more authentic/sympathetic feel. 

Get creative

You can get creative with half-wall paneling, incorporating unique designs, patterns, or even materials to express your individual style. An example of where I did this before was when I used strong postal tubes along the side of the kitchen worktops and it created a cool and unusual tubular effect. 

Introduce some contrast

Half wall paneling offers an opportunity to play with colour and contrast. The lower panels can be painted in a different colour to the upper part of the wall or the surrounding space, creating a striking visual contrast. This is a great way to add some striking or deep colours without it feeling overpowering if you aren’t ready to commit to a totally enveloping colour drench effect.

DIY tips for half-wall panelling ideas

Fancy a go at installing some DIY wall panelling? Preparing the wall for panelling is the key to success. Below are some tips...

1. Plan for sockets and switches

You might be able to avoid them completely if you are installing board and batten. shaker panelling, if not, you'll need to know where they are in order to cut around them.

2. Bring the panels indoors early

It’s worth bringing mdf panelling and mdf strips into the room you are panelling at least 24 hours ahead to allow it to acclimatise. 

3. Consider alternatives to grab adhesive

Only use grab adhesive if you are sure you want the panelling to stay there, as you will likely pull chunks of the wall surface off when you remove them. An alternative to glue is fixing an mdf sheet to the wall and applying the mdf strips to that otherwise you can use panel pins, which result in far less wall damage upon removal. (Don’t worry if you do get wall damage as you can read my posts about plasterboard wall repair and skimming).  

4. Apply Primer

When installing wood or mdf panelling, always apply a primer to improve paint adhesion. You'll need a knotting solution, too for wood with knots (eg pine)

Half-wall paneling ideas and inspiration

So far, it’s mainly been ideas and principles, so here are some real-life inspiring examples of half-wall paneling ideas to get you thinking about how to adopt this trend in your home.  Let’s take a quick look at the different types of wall panelling there are to start getting those half-wall paneling ideas flowing. 

Tongue and groove panelling/beadboard 

I’ve written a whole separate post about how to install tongue and groove paneling, so if this is the look you are going for then pop over and have a read. 

Board and batten wall paneling in a bedroom with wall mural

Shaker style wall paneling aka board and batten - 

This is the simplest and most cost-effective way to install wall paneling. It only requires MDF strips, which you stick or nail to the wall to create small sections. For an effective look, you can add wallpaper to the insides of the sections or pair it with a bedroom wall mural as seen here.

Shiplap wall paneling

Shiplap is a stylish wall panelling based on the boards used for waterproofing ships. These individual planks can be installed vertically or horizontally, adding personality and structure to a room. Often associated with rustic or farmhouse-style interiors.

Slat wall paneling

Slat wall paneling has become popular in recent years and is a freesh modern take on the more traditional styles of paneling. There are various companies who supply slats especially for paneling your walls with and there are acoustic benefits as well as aesthetics.

Picture moulding

Picture frame wall paneling is a traditional style that has been around for a long time and was popular in Victorian and Edwardian times. Because of this, it's a great way of adding some period charm to a room in an old house - and a great hack if you're adding it to a modern room lacking in features

Picture moulding paneling has been become fashionable again in recent years and adds timeless glamour to any room.

fluted mdf panelling

Fluted mdf panelling

Fluted mdf panelling is a relatively new discovery for me, but has been a game-changer for home DIY projects. I've used it in quite a few places around my home everywhere from the breakfast bar to filling in the gaps above the kitchen cabinets with it. Message me if you'd like a discount code for the supplier I use.

In which rooms can I install half-wall paneling?

Wall panelling is so versatile making it an ideal addition to most rooms. Panelling is very popular in bedrooms, living rooms and bathrooms. You can even mix and match panelling styles between rooms. Panelling is also perfect for installing in a hallway as it makes the walls more resilient whilst adding an attractive feature.

Can you add half-wall panelling to a bathroom?

Yes, there are obviously some considerations around air moisture levels and the potential for condensation, meaning that you have to ensure the panelling has been primed and painted in a wood paint (I like eggshell for a slight sheen and extra resilience, but not as much shine as gloss). If your bathroom suffers from bad condensation then I recommend getting a dehumidifier anyway to tackle condensation and prevent mould.

What tools do I need for a wall panelling project?

Read where to source the wood for panelling projects here. In addition to the materials you'll need for your paneling project, the following tools will see you right..

Spirit level to ensure your panels are level - A laser level makes light work of this

Grab adhesive - No more nails is always a winner or panel pins

Damp cloth

Decorators caulk

MDF primer - this one is great



Sandpaper can be helpful if you need to smooth any filled areas or gaps before painting.

Thanks for reading, I hope you’re feeling inspired! Don’t forget to share this with anyone who might find it useful and let me know in the comments if you’re going to have a go. 

Where next?

Here are some other panelling-related posts you might enjoy…

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