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Installing solid-wood paneling


ABOVE You can install solid-wood planking with tongue-and-groove seams, and stain or paint to finish.


solid-wood paneling

Most sheet paneling is designed to simulate individual wood planks. But nothing looks quite like the real thing. Although planking is more expensive and takes longer to install than sheets, you can use hardwoods such as birch, maple, and oak, or softwoods such as pine, cedar, or cypress. There are several styles of planks and different ways to apply them. For example, you can use shiplap planks or tongue-and-groove boards, installed horizontally, on the diagonal, or vertically over horizontal furring strips.

Plank Grades and Appearance

There is a dramatic difference in the appearance and cost of planks, depending on the grade you buy. Lumber grading can be confusing and can vary somewhat from one source to another. For softwoods, such as pine, there are three general categories for good-quality panel boards. Select lumber ranges from B or better, which has almost no flaws, to C, which has some natural flaws, and 0, which has more flaws. Finish lumber is the next category, followed by common board lumber.

For hardwoods, the grading system ranges from extremely expensive woods suitable for fine furniture called first and seconds, through common grades, which generally are fine for plank paneling.

All the grading systems have the same bias. They assume that clear wood without knots and grain variations is best. Itís certainly more expensive than other grades but, to some, lacks the character of a grainy birch or knotty pine that is less clear and less expensive.


smooth versus rough sawn

This clear grade of cedar has a smooth surface, straight grain that is easy to work, a uniform color through out, and no visible knots or other defects.


This lesser grade has a rough surface, wavier grain, distinct variations of color, and knots. But even low-cost grades have the strength required.


Installing solid-wood paneling

  Installing solid-wood paneling, like we show on this wainscoting project, is an easy way to add real distinction to any room. And solid boards can fit any decorating scheme because they look good when painted, stained, or covered with a clear finish. The boards are usually nailed to surface-mounted horizontal furring strips. If the combined thickness of the furring and the boards extends too far into your room, you can remove the drywall or plaster from the wall and nail the furring either across the studs or between them.

Step 1. Nail horizontal furring strips to the wall, and fill any hollows behind the strips with shimming shingles. Start in one corner by placing the first board, with its tongue side against the adjacent wall, and scribing it to fit with a compass (inset). Nail it to the top and bottom furring strips.


Step 2. Slide the groove of each succeeding board over the tongue of the previous one, and tap them together until the joint is tight. Drive a nail through the corner of the tongue into the furring.



Step 3. Carefully measure for electrical box cutouts, or other obstructions, and mark the board accordingly. Then make the cuts with a saber saw; test fit the board; and when satisfied, nail it in place.


Step 4. On wainscoted walls like this, where the boards donít extend all the way from the floor to the ceiling, the exposed tops of the boards must be covered with trim. Cut a piece and nail it in to the studs.





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