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Welcome!

 ...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

What wood should I use for wall panelling?

Updated: Mar 23

All my top tips and tricks for what wood to use for wall panelling

mural on upper half of bedroom wall and shaker wall panelling on the bottom half

Wondering what wood to buy for wall panelling? I've written A LOT on here about my love of wall panelling. I shared posts about the different types of wall panelling, ideas and inspo posts, DIY tutorials for installing wall panelling and stair panelling, how to decorate wall panelling and how to use it as a tool for creative room transformations on a budget (I'll link all these at the end if you fancy a browse). But I realised yesterday that I haven't written about how I source the wood for my panelling projects and what type of wood to use for each type of wall panelling which is kind of critical and might be useful to those just starting out on their wall panelling journeys. I've tried lots of different types of varying costs and have made lots of easily avoidable mistakes with my product sourcing so here are all my top tips for what wood to use for wall panelling...


Where I buy wood for wall panelling projects.

Shaker wall panels laying out ready for installation

Unsurprisingly, the type of wood you need to buy will depend on the type of wood panelling you are installing, so the best way to whiz through this is to cover each of the wall panelling types separately with a quick explanation of the pros and cons and what to look out for. Let's get started...




1. What wood for shaker wall panelling?

Shaker style wall panelling is such a versatile option for your home and arguably the easiest type of wall panelling to install. Shaker panelling (aka board-and-batten or wainscotting) consists of flat wood panels that can either be installed only on the lower half of the wall, sometimes with a dado rail separating the panels from the upper half of the wall, or over two-thirds of the wall or sometimes covering the whole wall. 

shaker wall panelling attached to wall ready for painting

Shaker panels can be any width, from narrow to wide and are easy to adapt to suit the width of your room. There's a section in my shaker panelling tutorial about how to decide the dimensions of your panels and how many to install across the wall if this seems a bit daunting.   Some shaker panelling is installed in rectangular panels or square or a combination of both (rectangular panels on the lower half of the wall with one row of square panels on top is popular). 


Shaker wall panelling is recognisable by its clean lines and simplicity, and works for lots of interior styles from modern to traditional. You could choose hardwood for this install, but it will greatly increase the costs and I've had great results using MDF sheets and strips. I've always painted my wall panels so the lack of wood grain or natural wood tones with mdf hasn't been an issue for me. If you wanted shaker wall panelling with natural wood (waxed, varnished or stained), then MDF is not going to work for you, but if you're going to slap a coat of hardwearing emulsion over it, then stick with me! 


shaker wall panelling painted white in modern living room

During lockdown, when all the shops were closed, I found an eBay seller who would cut mdf strips to order and it was great. He charged £1 a strip from memory, and my dimensions were 5cm (50mm) wide, 6mm thick and either 90cm or 1.2m long. I'd plan the layout on the wall and tot up the number of strips I needed and they'd be delivered. The only thing there was the cost of delivery was quite high because they weighed quite a lot and he'd send them by courier. 


How to get the best value mdf strips for wall shaker wall panelling.


pink shaker wall panelling

After the pandemic, I went back to using B&Q for all my MDF for DIY projects because they have a good range of sheet sizes and thicknesses and a brilliant in-store cutting service. To get the best value, I follow these steps for every project


  • Calculate how many MDF strips you need for your project (always add extra in case of damage or miscalculations - 10-15% is a good buffer)

  • Sketch out the dimensions of the large sheet sizes and see how you can get the most strips out of the sheet.

  • First, look to see if you can fit the longest ones into the short side of the sheet, if not see if you can get two of the longest ones into the long side, or perhaps one long and one short.

  • The idea is to play a kind of MDF strip tetris to fit as many strips in as possible and end up with the least amount of wastage. 

  • Once you've worked out the best layout, this forms your cutting guide.  Note: you need to allow for a 1-2mm gap between the strips due to the width of the saw blade on the cutting saw used for their custom-cutting service, so don't squeeze them in exactly if the final strip will be too narrow. 

  • Give the cutting guide to the B&Q team member and they'll make the cuts for you

  • To save money, I only get the widths cut in store as the lengths are super easy and quick to do at home as the strips are so narrow.

The first few cuts are free then you pay 50p per cut after that, so it's often cheaper to get them to cut along the longest side of the sheet but it depends on how long your strips are - have a play about to work out the best way for your project. 


2. What wood for tongue and groove wall panelling?

Tongue and groove wall panelling with spirit level resting on top

Tongue and groove wall panelling is great for covering over walls that need a bit of TLC. If you can't face doing a DIY skim coat on a scratched-up wall, or you don't want to make repairs to your plasterboard walls, then installing sheets of beadboard as the wood choice for your tongue and groove panelling is a great alternative.


This type of panelling features interlocking wooden panels with protruding edges that fit into grooves on adjacent panels. It creates a seamless and sturdy wall surface and, depending on the colours you paint with and your choice of interior styling, a country, traditional, or even coastal look. 


Tongue and groove panelling can be installed on the entire wall or used as wainscoting panels on the lower half - as seen in my post with half-wall panelling ideas. Tongue and groove is a great idea for narrow spaces like staircases or hallways, where it adds texture and character while protecting the wall surface from the effects of a high-traffic area. I used T&G panelling in our front room, as seen in the images. I always buy my tongue and groove mdf sheets from Wickes as I found their sheets to be the most cost-effective after a considerable amount of research. I personally opt for the shorter, unprimed sheets because although the taller sheets are the same cost per metre squared and have the advantage of being pre-primed the height didn't work quite as well for my project requirements. 


Top Tip: When calculating the best size sheet, aim to have as few horizontal joins as possible as these are a bit harder to hide than the vertical joins. 




3. What wood for picture frame moulding wall panelling?


picture frame moulding wall panelling

Picture frame moulding wall panelling is reminiscent of traditional panelling found in historic homes (or the stunning Parisian examples seen in Emily in Paris - it's one of the main reasons I watch it!) and whilst it doesn't create quite the same effect in my little house, it certainly helps to add some character to the 1960s walls and previously characterless stairs.


As you might expect, picture frame panelling involves the installation of rectangular or square frames made of wood mouldings on the wall. This panelled effect can be low profile with thinner, simplistic strip moulding or detailed and prominent using thicker profile strips. Picture frame moulding can be installed on the entire wall or used selectively, such as on staircase walls or gallery walls, to highlight artwork or decorative elements such as wall lights. It's a great way to incorporate geometric patterns and architectural detail into modern design, offering a modern twist on traditional features. 

picture moulding panelling

I always buy pine moulding from B&Q for my picture frame panelling, and after trying various mouldings over the years, I settled on the following as my absolute favourite. For me, it was a good compromise between price, size, and detailing. I love traditional-style moulding that makes a bold statement and creates a focal point, but the moulding strips can get quite expensive as the widths and depths increase. This design is £10.75 per 2.4m length. 


stair panelling by Claire Douglas

I've used this wall moulding on my stair walls, as I felt it was the right stair panelling to match the panels I'd installed in my narrow hallway. A word of caution: It's totally addictive! Once you start buying this type of wood panelling, you'll want to put it everywhere.

I can't pop into B&Q without grabbing a few strips now and they often sit in my car for days until I can find the time to progress with the panelling. The upside to this is that the car always smells pine fresh without the need for air fresheners! 

Buying the wood for picture moulding wall panelling can get more expensive than the cheaper mdf sheet required for the shaker panels, but the final results are definitely more dramatic. 

4. What wood for fluted MDF panels?

fluted mdf in kitchen

I discovered fluted MDF panels last year (again on eBay actually!) and was blown away with what a cool and useful product it was. The seller then set up an Etsy store as well and I've managed to secure a 5% discount for blog readers, so if it's something you're keen to buy then feel free to make use of this code at checkout CLAIREDOUGLASSTYLING using the link below...


5. What wood for shiplap wall panelling?


Shiplap wall panelling is all over social media of late and has become a popular choice favoured by interior designers. Offering a clean and cohesive feel to any space, it's similar to tongue and groove but can be installed horizontally, and the panels are often wider than those of T&G. Shiplap wall panelling involves the installation of wooden panels that slightly overlap each other, creating distinctive grooves between the boards. I haven't personally used shiplap in my home, so I can't recommend where or what wood to buy from my own experience. 


Tips for successful wood sourcing for wall panelling DIY projects.


I steer clear of the DIY panelling kits because you pay a premium for the wood and often end up having to purchase extra materials or tools as part of the kit that you might not want or need. It's nearly always cheaper to source the materials yourself and you can hopefully use the tips I've shared above to save time and money. Below are some further pointers...


  • Design the full layout beforehand and measure up so you know exactly how much wood you need

  • Allow for a bit extra

  • Check you can fit the wood in your car if collecting long pieces or large sheets

  • Make use of the free delivery service DIY stores often offer for larger orders by buying in bulk, rather than ordering multiple smaller amounts for your project. 


Where next?


If you are looking for step-by-step guides on how to install wall panelling, here are the tutorial links...

 


If you are looking for ideas and inspiration for a future wood panelling project, here are the links...



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