Understanding Wood Panelling For Walls 
Wooden wall panelling


Written by Maddie

Undertaking a panelling project? Want to know more about wooden panels for walls? We have the answers. 

Here at Tablero we’re often asked questions about wooden panels for walls – What are they? What does it involve? Are wooden panels expensive? Can I use tree bark instead?


The list is endless, and surprisingly there’s not as much information available on wood panels for walls as we’d like there to be. We figured what better way to spread the knowledge on wooden wall panelling than to put together the most popular FAQs on this subject. Let’s begin. 

Jacobean Style Wall Panelling in Oak from Oakleaf

What is wood panelling for walls called?

Essentially wood panelling is just an indication of the material being used – i.e  wood. There are many different names for panelling styles – you just need to stick the word ‘wood’ in front of it, for example wood shaker wall panels. See? Easy peasy. 

Hold On – Isn’t There A Technical Term?

Not really, people often get MDF and wood confused so generally people are normally searching for ‘MDF wall panels‘ and not ‘wood wall panels’. Wooden wall panelling is quite a dated interior design technique and a costly one too. If you’re looking to transform your home on a budget, wooden wall panelling may not be for you. But don’t worry, MDF wall panelling is a modern and cheaper alternative which still offers a wood panel effect.

Replicating Jacobean Style Wall Panels with strips of MDF – photo credit – From Evija With Love

What’s The Difference Between Wood Panels And MDF Panels For Walls?

Primarily, cost.  Wooden panels for walls are quite costly, however you can replicate the same wood panel effect with mdf wall panels which are considerably cheaper. Price aside, these two products are made up of different materials – wood wall panelling is derived entirely from wood – which is no real shock to anyone. MDF is an engineered wood product, it’s stronger than plywood and it’s typically used in cabinet making and for constructing storage units. Medium Density Fibreboard is the technical term – exciting right?

Although MDF is technically derived from wood fibres it is actually a clever alternative to using wood for panelling applications. And we’re here to tell you why!

MDF has the same qualities as wood – it’s sturdy, hard-wearing and can stand the test of time, but more importantly MDF won’t give you splinters. We hate splinters. 

It’s very easy to cut as long as you have the right tools – we would not advise attempting to cut MDF with a butter knife or scissors. If you’re not sure on the tools you need to successfully panel a wall – this guide will help.  

Once the MDF is primed and painted – you really can’t distinguish between it and it’s wooden counterparts. Moreover, MDF is really enjoyable to paint – we know we’re a bit sad. 

Georgian Wall Panelling
Georgian Wall Panelling using MDF

Are Wooden Panels For Walls Expensive?

In comparison to wooden wall panels MDF is a lot more affordable per metre, it’s certainly the cheaper alternative to wood panelling which is quite important if you’re looking to transform your home on a tight budget.

With wooden panelling for walls you need to hire a skilled tradesman to install them – which as you can imagine is quite expensive. 

However with MDF, you have multiple options. You can purchase sheets of MDF and measure out your panelling design, cut the sheet into strips and glue them into place. Or if you want the super easy and cheap wall panelling option, you can simply buy MDF cut to size online

How Much Does It Cost To Wood Panel A Wall?

Wooden wall panelling typically costs around £300-£400 per square metre. Which is a huge contrast compared to MDF wall panelling which is usually around the £20-£50 per square metre mark. 

Now you have an insight into the differences between wood panelling for walls and MDF panelling. We have an abundance of wall panelling installation guides if you’re still torn between the two. Maybe you’ve made your decision but need some panelling inspo – right this way.

Leave a Reply