Wood wall coverings can add a natural appearance to your home's interior. While drywall and plaster can appear cold and stark, the natural fibres and patterns within wood can contribute to feelings of warmth and comfort. Wood is also more durable than drywall. For some rooms, leaving wood wall coverings unfinished or using a light stain may be suitable for creating a rustic look, while in more modern or formal spaces you can paint wood coverings the colours of your choosing.
Using tongue-and-groove wood panelling as a wall covering peaked in popularity in the U.S. during the 1960s and 1970s. Each panel comprising the covering has a ridge -- or tongue -- along one of its sides, and a depression---or groove---along its other side, which allows the panels to be joined edgewise. Most often, homeowners install the panels vertically from floor to ceiling. However, you can also arrange tongue-and-groove panels horizontally or use them like wainscoting to reach from the floor to a designated height on the wall. Tongue-and-groove panels usually are made of redwood, cedar, pine or medium-density fiberboard.
Wainscoting is a wood wall covering that lines the lower portions of walls, typically reaching waist high. Wainscoting can incorporate panelling of several different sizes in both vertical and horizontal configurations. For example, some styles utilise repeating patterns of picture-frame like overlays, which protrude out from underlying wood panels. One of the most popular styles of wainscoting is bead board, which utilises multiple vertically-aligned narrow wood strips. While traditional wainscoting consists of solid wood, more modern versions are available in medium density fiberboard, high density fiberboard and as veneers.
If you want to create the appearance of elegant wood wall coverings without spending top-dollar on premium lumbers such as cherry or black walnut, a veneer may be the solution. Veneers are paper-thin sheets of natural wood adhered to fiberboard, particleboard or other composite panels. The panels serve as substrates for the thin veneer. In comparison to other wood wall coverings, veneers are lightweight, making them easy to work with.
Putting up wood wall coverings does not necessarily entail pulling down new trees to provide the raw materials. One "green" wall covering option is to use sheets made from the bark of some trees, which some companies harvest using sustainable, chemical-free processes (Barkskin is a brand of that product). Another option is to use reclaimed or recycled wood for your wood wall coverings, such as boards from old barns and other buildings (they may need to be treated to kill insects and moulds, however).