How to Install Wood Paneling

Author: venusgeng

Apr. 23, 2023

Construction & Real Estate

Supplies and Tools Needed For Most Installations

How to Install Wood Wall Paneling - Printer Friendly Version

Tape Measure

Putty Sticks & Wood Filler



Caulk & Caulking Gun


Crayon or Lipstick

Finishing/Paneling Nails


Jig Saw

2-inch Foam Brush




Stain or Paint



Tips ... Be sure to wear safety glasses and ear protection while working on your project.  While cutting and creating wood dust, wear a dust mask.  For your protection and that of anyone near your work area, always think about what you are going to do before you take action.

Installing paneling is a lot like hanging wall paper.  You will start at a corner of the wall and work your way around.

Estimate the number of panels needed by measuring the room circumference in feet and dividing by four.  Cutouts for large openings (such as windows and doors) can often be used to panel small areas, such as above a window.  Check the existing wall condition.  You may apply panels with adhesive directly to surfaces that are level, sound and clean.  Nail directly into the studs when installing your paneling over existing paneling, wallpapered walls or surfaces which will not support adhesive.  Sand down any protrusions in the wall for a smooth fit.

There may be a need for some preparation.  If one of the walls you are paneling has a doorway, remove the trim around the door by prying it off.  Also pry off the baseboard from the walls you will panel. 


5.2mm (1/4") thick plywood paneling can be nailed directly to the studs to satisfy the code requirements. While not a code, we recommend using a vapor barrier between the studs and the plywood paneling if there is spray foam insulation, since it adds another element of protection and preventative measures always cost less than repairs.  Spray foam insulation may contain some liquids or moisture that over time potentially could damage wood or promote the growth of mold.






If your walls are not plumb, add furring strips to create a level, grid-like surface.  These steps will also provide additional rigidity to your wall.  Use either 1" x 2" or 1" x 4" kiln-dried lumber of 1/2" plywood strips cut 2" wide.  Starting at the top, space strips horizontally 16" apart, using shims to line them up for the true vertical plumb.  Add a strip at the base.  Starting in the corner, place vertical strips every four feet between your horizontal furring.


Before you begin condition (acclimate) your panels to the room.  With all panels in the interior space where they will be installed, stand them individually along the long edge or lay them flat with wood sticks spaced between them so that air circulates around each panel.  Let stand for at least 24 hours if installation is above grade and at least 48 hours if installation is below grade level.  For all below grade applications, always use a vapor barrier between the outside walls and the studs.  Remove all trim.  Turn off the electricity before removing all receptacle covers.  Once the panels have been acclimated to the room, place your paneling around the room in an attractive arrangement of grain, pattern or color.  Previewing this way is especially important when you usepanels with a definite direction in the pattern.  Once you have a good aesthetic sequence, number the back of the panels in the order in which they will be attached to the wall.





Use a 2-inch foam brush to stain or paint the wall surfaces at the point where your panels will be joined, using a color which matches the edges or grooves of your panels.  This will make the joints less noticeable.  You will need to protect the floor from stain or paint.




Double-check all measurements before cutting panels.  Start your installation in the corner that you see first when entering the room.  To cut around openings like electrical switches or outlets, turn off the power at the main panel and then remove the cover plate to the switch or outlet.  You can wipe lipstick or a crayon around the rim of the box and then press the panel into place to dry fit the panel.  As the panel makes contact with the box, an outline will be left on the panel from the lipstick or crayon.  Place the face of the panel down and use a jigsaw to cut around the outline.  Make sure that the panel opening is resting on the wall and not on the lip of the box.  The cover plate will cover any gaps between the box and the opening in the panel.





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