But there’s paneling, and then there’s paneling — right? Shiplap just ain’t your grandma’s wall paneling.
No matter how you personally feel about paneling — and if you were a child of the 70s, one of those feelings might be akin to aversion — I promise that this gigantic collection of vintage wall paneling from mid-century (and beyond) makes for a surprisingly delightful scroll down nostalgia lane!
And for all that my memories of the ugly brown 1970s basement rec room paneling of my childhood leaves a bad taste in my mouth… some of the retro paneling displayed here looks, dare I say, good. The 1950s Weldwood paneling — with its rosy and warm cherry hues — in particular, is growing on me.
Have a look below for many more fantastic examples. In the end, you might even start to wonder what room in your home could benefit from some vintage-style paneling! (Take a look here to see some of what is available now.) – BB
Southern Hardwoods mid century wall paneling (1950s)
The beauty of paneling made from southern hardwoods
From the Southern Hardwood Producer’s Association (1952)
For the informal and the rustic, character-marked Southern hardwoods are unexcelled. No region of North America is so amply endowed with a wealth of fine hardwoods as the South. This broad belt of America’s most productive hardwood forest area stretches from East Texas to Maryland.
Out of the mountains, but including the rolling uplands, rich river deltas, and coastal swamps and bayous, the region combines soil and climatic factors which produce superb hardwoods for a multitude of uses.
Historically, the hardwoods have been used where beauty is important. It has been the rich coloring, intriguing grain and distinctive loveliness of the Southern hardwoods, which have caused them to be in such demand for beautiful wood products.
In other properties, too, Southern hardwoods have excelled. Now, these fine hardwoods are available for wood interiors.
In abundant supply and obtainable from many sources, Southern hardwoods will add warmth and beauty to any home from the modest to the elegant.
A retro home office with multiple paneled walls and matching beams
1950s: Feminine bedroom with wall and ceiling paneling
In what appears to be an attic bedroom, the wide-plank paneling, floral chintz, and built-in display shelving make a charming and cozy nook.
Knotty pine paneling gave a country feel to rooms
What could wood paneling do for your dining room? (1957)
Wall is of 4’x8′ Nakora V-Plank panels. Nakora is facing for built-ins and for folding service counter doors. Counter is of Micarta.
Men can’t hurt… new Georgia-Pacific family-proof paneling! (1958)
Choose this new G-P Honeytone Oak paneling — the luxury look at a practical price.
1950s & 60s: Weldwood mid century wall paneling by US Plywood
The whys and hows of paneled walls
From US Plywood, in House & Garden magazine (September 1968)
Walk into any wood-paneled room, and sooner or later you’ll find yourself over by the wall, feeling the wood with your fingers.
Touching wood seems to satisfy a basic human instinct, which is maybe why it’s supposed to be lucky.
The grain of wood is the record of years of growth. So wood paneling gives a room a feeling of permanence that’s hard to come by any other way. And good quality wood paneling is in fact about the most permanent thing you can put on your walls.
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Weldwood paneling, for example, will last as long as your house. And it has a fine furniture finish that protects the wood and enhances the grain pattern.
To keep it looking great, just wipe it down occasionally with a cloth dampened with liquid wax.
Paneling a room is not cheap (though it may be less expensive than you think). But when you’ve done it, you should never have to do it again.
And it can add a lot to the value of your home — a look at the real estate ads in any newspaper will confirm that. They wouldn’t mention paneled rooms so often if it didn’t pay off.
Do it yourself? Modern prefinished paneling is quite simple to install. New panel adhesives have done away with the endless nailing, hammering, dents and bashed thumbs that used to go with the job. The only nails you use are three or four across the top of each panel to hold it in position.
Matching moldings and trim are available, too. So paneling can easily be a do-it-yourself project. And if you prefer to have it done for you, it shouldn’t run you into big labor charges.
Beware of “bargains.” You can get paneling for as little as $3.98 per 4′ x 8′ panel, but you’d better not. A panel may seem a simple thing, but there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.
You can see the front and the back, but you can’t see the core. And if the core has big knots in it, or patches of rough grain, or pieces of tape holding it together, they’ll all show through on the face. But unfortunately, they won’t show through right away.
You can put up the paneling and it’ll look fine. But after six months or a year, it may start looking patchy, and there won’t be a thing you can do about it.
And a “bargain” panel probably has a “bargain” finish. So it may look fine in the store, but after you get it up you find that humidity makes it sticky, water turns it cloudy, and it cracks and crazes as it gets older.
What’s in a name? Plenty. It’s very much safer to buy paneling that’s made by a company with a reputation to maintain. It may cost you a bit more to start with, but you won’t have to tear it all down and replace it after a year or two.
They sand them more than some panelmakers sand their face veneers. And they go through up to 30 different steps to get the finish the way they want it. Weldwood prices start at $7.95 per 4’x 8′ panel. And they go all the way up to $108 for rare Brazilian Rosewood.
There are 26 different woods to choose from in between — and many variations of color, finish and detail with each kind of wood.
Plank-look wooden paneling in a simple 1950s country bedroom
White paneling was also available without the wood effect
1950s paneled basement with built-in closets
Family room & breakfast bar with a warm honey-toned paneling
Single bedroom decorated with plank paneling
Blue and white large-print calico fabric offers a cool contrast against the wood walls
Some wall paneling colors available in the 1950s/1960s
Varieties below: Karina, Philippine Mahogany, Birch, Honduras Mahogany, Idaho Knotty Pine, Sliced Walnut
Vintage Weldwood wall paneling colors from the fifties
These few representative samples of weldwood paneling show how the characteristic graining and tone of each species is tastefully brought out by superb craftsmanship.
- Nutmeg samara v-plank
- Suntan samara standard, v-plank, colonial v-plank
- Cinnamon samara v-plank
- Candlelight samara v-plank
- Sherwood green samara v-plank
- Charter pine standard v-plank
- Dove grey samara v-plank
- Fawn surfwood
- Coral rose samara v-plank
- Provincial samara v-plank
- Biscayne blue samara v-plank
- Havana green surfwood
- Silver grey surfwood
- Frosted ebony surfwood
Samara paneling in basement with built-in bench (1956)
Swirling, rosy-blond hardwood cut in French Equatorial Africa. Spirited setting for a family room you can build yourself. A 12’x8′ wall — prefinished and waxed — costs only $52.
Prefinished real wood paneling in 9 mellow colors (1958)
Sherwood Green (shown), Biscayne Blue, Coral Rose, Dove Gray, Candlelight, Provincial, Sun Tan, Nutmeg
A wood-paneled room like this often starts with a pick-and-choose (1958)
Haven’t you a room that needs the simple good looks of cherry paneling? (1959)
Weldwood prefinished cherry V-plank comes in 4’x8′ panels, grooved to look like random planks. Install it yourself with Weldwood Contact Cement and Weldwood Hardwood Trim.
You, too, can make your room come alive with real wood paneling (1960)
This is Charter Oak, for example. It’s real wood, finished like fine furniture… costs about $50 for a 12’x8′ wall.
The Sloans claim they never knew their own decorating talents until they paneled their family room in Weldwood Charter Oak. Something about the real wood warmth, they said, made ideas just naturally take shape.
Of course, there is other real wood paneling on the market. But in Weldwood paneling there’s a difference you can actually feel. Weldwood paneling comes with a factory-applied finish that you’d expect to find only on the finest furniture.
It takes us longer to apply (18 separate steps) but it brings out and preserves the natural wood beauty. And it helps protect the wood from dirt, too, so your housekeeping is much easier.
Far East or Far West, room ideas begin with real wood paneling (1961)
See how the same wood paneling, Weldwood Nakora, harmonizes perfectly with either Japanese or Western decor. Or choose teak, oak, cherry — or any of 70 Weldwood real wood panelings as low as $28 for a 12′ x 8′ wall.
Japanese decor: Tranquil and meaningful, this room’s quiet dignity is more than architecture. It reflects an approach to living — serenely expressed by the Nakora paneling.
The wood itself — grain figures, color variations, textures — counts as its own decoration. Nothing artificial or superimposed, nothing but real wood, luxuriously finished to bring out its natural warmth. You can feel the difference.
Western decor: Robust, rough ‘n’ ready, here’s a family room for everyone to enjoy. Nakora paneling makes a handsome background for spurs and branding irons. And its durable finish keeps it beautiful — practically immune to cooking stains and junior-sized bucking broncos.
Pick the decorative mood you want from the world’s forests (1962)
There are as many decorative moods to real wood as there are tones, textures, grain patterns in the world’s forests.
Be warm with cherry. Traditions with oak. Friendly with birch. Formal with walnut. Weldwood makes it easy.
Weldwood offers over 70 varieties of real wood paneling to choose from, luxuriously and permanently prefinished like fine furniture.
Dinner becomes an occasion in a room like this (1962)
Choose walnut, cherry, birch, teak or any of 70 beautiful real wood panelings on display
What Weldwood won’t do for your basement! (1969)
And it won’t get you involved in all the nailing, taping, filling, and painting you have to go through with wallboard.
Weldwood makes it much easier to turn your basement into a rumpus room.
More 1960s… featuring brands that aren’t Weldwood!
The wall paneling marketing effort got significantly sexier in this decade.
Mid-century modern wall paneling (1962)
Beautiful Marlite Paneling… With the soil-proof wash-and-wear finish that stays like new for years
Be colorful with solid wood paneling (1962)
Choose from 10 distinctive wood species, then enhance the natural beauty of the material with any color you wish.
These wonderful woods’ soft grain and even texture welcome paint or stain… beautiful grain patterns project their charm through the color of your choice.
Vintage wall paneling: Which costs less? (1965)
The lamp, the sofa, the table, the silver service, their gowns, or the Inlaid Paneling?
Which costs less? (1966)
You can change Gold Crest real wood paneling to match your mood! (1966)
(How? With tape to match your carpet, furniture, draperies, or party theme!) [What!? Ingenious gimmick!]
Georgia-Pacific’s new Gold Crest Paneling has special deep cut, one-half inch wide channels every 16 inches.
You decorate these channels with easy-to-apply, easy-to-remove colored tapes to match your carpet, furniture, draperies… even a party theme.
Of course, your decorating ideas don’t have to be limited to tape. You can use fabric, tile, strips of metal… or paint the channels the color you like. The possibilities are endless!
Paneling display at the old Wickes department store (1967)
Say good-bye to cracked plaster, peeling paint, faded wallpaper (1968)
THE LASTING BEAUTY OF ROYALCOTE PANELING
Instant beauty. Lasting beauty. Beauty that adds value. That’s what you achieve when you panel a wall — or your whole house — with Royalcote.
You’ll find a lively choice of colors, woodgrains and textures in Royalcote paneling. Royalcote goes up easier than wallpaper, and it lasts a housetime without care, without maintenance.
Finally, paneling that captures the romance of the Old World! (1969)
Georgia-Pacific introduces paneling with the aged look of the Old World. Charming as a British Pub. Uncommonly beautiful with any mood, from Nordic cool to the sensuous splendor of old Spain.
1969: Give your decorator kitchen a lifetime of wash-and-wear beauty
Looks custom-decorated. Never shows its age. That’s the beauty of remodeling with Marlite Paneling.
We’ve used deep-embossed Carved Leaf, textured Wormy chestnut and Ultra Blue Marlite in this Scandanavian kitchen. Just three of more than 70 inspiring textures, colors, patterns and designs in the Marlite collection.
You don’t have to pamper a Marlite kitchen. This rugged prefinished hardboard has a baked plastic finish that shrugs off heat, moisture, stains and hard knocks. Even the dirtiest fingerprints wipe off with a damp cloth.
Handy with ordinary carpenter tools? You can install easy-to-handle Marlite Planks yourself.
The Elegance of Fashionable Interiors with Royalcote Paneling (1969)
Our Family Fun Rooms achieve new beauty with ROYALCOTE hardboard paneling.
When you plan to decorate your den, game room or all-around family room use easy care ROYALCOTE. In many exciting wood grained textures and colors, it’s the beautiful way to bathe a room in lasting charm.
We have paneled our fun-rooms in two tones of warm ROYALCOTE Castanea, and three rough sawn textured panels: Shale White, Charcoal Brown and Fern Green.
And we present another exciting new decorating idea: The Masonite living wall, a flexible arrangement of pilasters, brackets and shelves to enhance your rooms and solve your storage problems.
Vintage wall paneling like this was PEAK 70s home decor
Remodeled old kitchens and baths with Marlite Planks
Beautiful as all outdoors: Coach House Cedar panels by Masonite Corporation
Here’s a wonderful new way to add beauty and warmth to your walls. Panel them with new Coach House Cedar — carefully crafted to savor the texture of old rustic, weathered barn wood. Horizontal and vertical planks, chair rail and baseboard.
By Masonite Corporation, of course. Foremost creator of hardboard panels for every taste, every period, every room — every pocketbook. See these durable, washable panels—beautiful as all outdoors — at your lumber dealer. Listed in the Yellow pages under “paneling.”
Shown: Coach House Cedar Paneling — 4’x 8′ — also in white, red and green. Notice the depth between planks, the realistic knots and nail heads. the authentic detail and charm or old barn wood.
Wal-Lite panels with wallpaper effects join the woodgrain looks
Vintage 80s wall paneling, from when this trend finally died…
Middleton Place paneling from Georgia-Pacific
MORE FROM THE 80S: 14 retro ways to make your kitchen more cozy and inviting