7 Wall Paneling Materials You Should Consider (Inc. Pros And Cons)

Wall paneling is a marvelous solution for easy, durable treatments to use on your walls. Paneling can add cheeky vibes to your space or spice up a room that looks a little drab. Really, it can give you any feel you wish from farmhouse all the way to fab and formal. Not all paneling is the same, though. There are various materials that make excellent paneling options. 

We’ve reviewed the seven most popular paneling materials to help you as you decide which option is best for you:

  1. Wood
  2. Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
  3. Vinyl 
  4. PVC
  5. Veneer
  6. Cork Wall Tiles
  7. Faux Bricks

Using any kind of paneling is a great way to hide flaws in the existing wall, in addition to spicing up the decor. It can also act as a little hiding spot for any unsightly cords or wiring.  It can be difficult to pick which option is right for your home. Please keep reading for an in-depth look at the pros and cons of each paneling material. 

Vinyl wall panel being installed using a hand drill, 7 Wall Paneling Materials You Should Consider (Inc. Pros And Cons)

1. Wood

Wood paneling is a very popular option. There is a lot of variation of available styles. Some popular wood paneling options you may have seen before are shiplap, board and batten, beadboard, and various kinds of wainscoting. These types of panels are all traditionally made of wood. The type of wood, design, and color can all vary based on your style, decor, and desires. 

Pros

Wood paneling is a great option to add a very warm, welcoming, and stylish look to your home. Often the textures and colors found in natural wood paneling give vibes of rustic coziness. This farmhouse feeling can be created with ease in a few ways. You could opt to dedicate an entire accent wall or simply choose to add the paneling only halfway up one or all of the walls in a room.  

Noise insulation is another great benefit of opting for wood paneling. Not only does the wood paneling look super cozy and inviting, but because of the way it is installed, it will provide you with an extra layer of privacy and quiet. 

Wood panels are very durable and not as easy to damage as their drywall counterparts.  Accidents do happen though but don’t worry! It is a pretty easy fix. Dings, dents, scratches, and scuffs can be sanded down and resealed. If the damage is beyond repair, you can always remove one piece and replace it if the damage is extensive enough. 

Cons

Maintaining wooden walls can be a bit taxing. If you’re going to choose to go with wood paneling for your walls, you need to maintain it properly. This will help make sure you get the longest life out of the wood and that you can prevent or stop any moisture, mold, or cracking before it becomes a major problem. 

If walls are not maintained properly, they will eventually begin to lose their moisture. This can create very costly and unsightly cracks, gaps, or even total splits. If there is too much moisture in the wood, it can warp and bulge, which will be expensive to fix. 

Solid wood paneling can be very expensive, anywhere from $10 per sheet up to over $40 per sheet. The price range varies based on the type of wood you are looking for. In addition to the high cost of materials, it is almost necessary that you hire a professional to install these panels. This will help ensure you get the longest life out of the panels you install. When installed properly, it significantly reduces the likelihood of warping and other deformations. 

Lastly, rot. Wood rot can be easy to repair, or it can be costly to repair. The difficulty level will depend on how much there is. If there is a deep layer of it, it can cause devastating damage. Surface rot can be sanded and sealed. 

Be sure to check out “7 Types of Wood Wall Paneling You Should Consider!

Click here to see this reclaimed barn wood wall panel set on Amazon!

2. Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)

Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) panels are man-made to look like they are cut directly from a tree. Giving the illusion that they are solid wood. While these panels are made out of wood, they are not made out of only solid wood. Instead, many tiny recycled pieces of wood are pressed together tightly with adhesive, under extreme amounts of pressure and heat, and MDF is created. Homeowners love this because it gives the illusion of solid wood, but not at the cost of solid wood. 

Pros

Due to the chemical process by which MDF is made, MDF actually is very good in humid weather and does not attract many pests. This material’s durability and low cost make it a hit for both newly built homes and remodels. Most people agree that the finished product made with MDF will look incredible. 

Cons

On the flip side, having to remodel or repaint this material can prove to be a bit of a headache. When trying to remove paint, repaint, or repair MDF, it can get expensive. This is because any accidental wet damage to the wall will cause it to swell. Once the material swells, it will need to be replaced. If you are going to use MDF, it is advisable not to use it in the bathroom or the kitchen. These are two rooms where moisture builds up regularly, and it will be expensive to maintain. 

MDF also has some negative connotations in the world of health. One of the ingredients in the adhesive that is used to bind the board is urea-formaldehyde. The CDC found that this chemical can cause irritation on parts of your body, such as your throat, eyes, nose, and skin. There have also been links to an increased chance of developing cancer in your lifetime after long exposure to this chemical.

Click here to see these 3MM MDF wood panels on Amazon!

3. Vinyl

Vinyl paneling is a great alternative to use in areas where you may be concerned about moisture. As mentioned above, when wood and other wood-like materials come into contact with too much moisture, it can cause irreparable damage. Vinyl paneling will offer a great solution for rooms like the bathroom and kitchen or other places where you may have an increased amount of water in the air. Water will not damage the vinyl as it does with wood. 

Pros

Much like you can get different types of patterned vinyl flooring, you can also get different types of patterned vinyl paneling. Beadboard, stucco, and pebbled are some popular textures found in many homes today. 

Cons

While vinyl paneling may be a great choice for durability purposes, it may not have the same aesthetic appeal that solid wood would have in a room. It will always look a little more processed and a bit sheen when there is bright lighting. This is simply the nature of the vinyl material. 

Click here to see this Oak colored vinyl paneling on Amazon!

4. PVC 

PVC panels are made for both walls and ceilings. They are designed as a more cost-effective alternative for traditional drywall. PVC panels are very durable and have an expansive lifespan. 

Pros

There are many benefits to opting for PVC paneling. This paneling is lightweight and easy to maneuver and install. Once installed, cleaning and maintaining it is very easy. The material is extremely durable and impact resistant. PVC is also fire-resistant and very hygienic.  To top it off, this material is less expensive than it’s drywall counterpart. 

Cons

PVC panels are sealed with a protective lacquer finish. This finish can be either high gloss or matte. The surface will not attract dust, which makes it a great option for someone who suffers from allergies. 

Click here to see this Faux Tin PVC panel on Amazon!

5. Veneer 

Veneer refers to a very thin layer of shaved wood. Veneer panels are made by adhering that thin layer of shaved wood to a substrate. This substrate could be made from plywood, particleboard, or even MDF. The veneer surface can be shaved from any hardwood, such as oak, maple, walnut, or mahogany, among others.  Veneer can be manufactured to meet many needs or to achieve a specific pattern. 

Pros

Veneers are a great option for being used on walls because they are not susceptible to cracking. You can polish scratches and scuffs out of them and to give them a cleaner finish. 

Since veneer sheets are made from natural wood, there are many options and specific looks to choose from based on which type of tree you’d like to use. The natural finish gives veneer panels a similar richness feeling that solid wood offers, but at a more affordable and eco-friendly rate. 

Cons

Some of the delicate designs are prone to denting and scratching, so you need to be sure to practice caution when you choose where to install these kinds of panels. 

Much like solid wood, wood veneers are not friends with moisture or humidity. Humidity can completely mess up the polish of the veneer or render it permanently damaged.

6. Cork Wall Tiles

Cork is an impermeable buoyant material that is often used in cork boards or wine stoppers.  These tiles are made of cork and designed into panels to be used as a wall treatment. 

Pros

There are many benefits to choosing to go with cork wall tiles on your wall. Things such as cork being available in a wide variety of colors and grain patterns and its unique ability to help stifle down excessive noises make it a great choice for anyone.

Cork is also eco-friendly as cork trees do not need to be chopped down in order to cultivate them. Only their bark (which grows back) needs to be harvested. In addition to all of that, cork is incredibly easy to maintain and is budget-friendly. 

Cons

Cork tiles are a great, artistic, low maintenance option for paneling on your walls, but you might want to keep a few things in mind. Cork is soft by nature. If something is dug into it, scratched across it, or if an animal gets its claws on it, it can cause irreparable damage. 

Another not so wonderful thing about cork is that sunlight can actually cause a substantial amount of damage, similar to how upholstery fades in the sun. You may notice that the wall looks more worn or faded in areas where the sun frequently hits. 

Click here to see these cork tiles on Amazon!

7. Faux Brick

Faux brick looks similar to real brick, but they are very different. As you may have guessed, faux brick is far more budget-friendly than real brick, but real brick is far more durable and longer-lasting than faux brick is. 

Pros

Faux brick is not strong enough to be used as structural support, but it makes a great alternative to real brick for inside your home. It is created from very thin layers of a somewhat low-quality type of brick and adhered to a substrate.

Cons

It is lighter and easier to install than traditional brick, but it cannot stand up to the same exposures as a traditional brick. 

In Closing

Selecting the right paneling material that is right for you can be a challenge. Consider your budget, your space, and what you need out of that space. Remember not to put solid wood, veneers, or MDF in bathrooms or kitchens where there is frequent moisture build-up. Before you go, be sure to check out our article “How To Decorate Wood Paneling Without Painting!”

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