Real wood wall paneling — cherry, oak, pine, cedar, pecan & more from States Industries

36 species, patterns and color of paneling
made with real wood veneers

real wood panelingWhere to find real wood veneer wall paneling? The leader in this U.S. market, with the greatest selection, seems to be States Industries, based in Eugene, Oregon, since 1966. States Industries offers 36 different species, pattern and colors of wood paneling, including three kinds of grooving — (1) flat [no grooves], (2) beaded [bead board] or (3) traditional orangeburg. “Orangeburg” is the term for asymmetric pattern of vertical grooves we see in most all paneling from back in the day. States says the repeat is typically “vertical grooves at 4-8-4-7-9-6-4-6 inches across the panel’s face.” Now don’t you feel smarter for knowing this? Impress your friends and family at cocktail parties. Or watch their eyes glaze over, more likely.

cherry wood paneling

American Cherry – Pam’s photo (color is richer in real life)

Spanish Pecan – Pam’s photo (color is richer in real life)

I had a good long phone conversation about real wood paneling with Bill Powell, head of marketing for States Industries. He sent me several samples of the paneling that I thought would be of greatest interest to Retro Renovators. I like them a lot, especially the orangeburg American Cherry and Spanish Pecan.

If I were doing a cozy basement den, I would for sure consider these two designs, the cherry in particular, I love the dark, rich, warm, red tones. My photos do not do the richness of the colors justic. My only nit, is that I wish the vertical grooves of the orangeburg were narrower.

wood wall panelingBill and I also talked about “why” wood paneling has become unfashionable. He followed up with an email:

It was nice to meet you via the phone this morning and to be made aware of your site and your “defense of paneling” blog. It is good to know there are realists who recognize that there is a place for quality paneling products. I have shipped you samples of six of our traditional paneling designs including American Cherry. I have also attached a pdf of our (2005) print paneling brochure.(Bill notes that there are some discontinued patterns still featured in the brochure.)

Although States is known more today for industrial hardwood plywood, we actually began in 1966 as a wall paneling manufacturer. Currently we continue that legacy with 36 pattern/specie combinations of standard retail offerings and a number of proprietary products designed for specific customers. With four exceptions, all of our paneling products are made with natural wood veneers. The exceptions are inexpensive beaded, primed MDF panels intended for painting. All of our paneling is made with soy based, no-added-formaldehyde adhesives, and many are available FSC Certified.

Some of the angst you identified is due to the success paneling enjoyed in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. The more popular paneling became, the more competitive the market became, and manufacturers outdid each other to produce lower and lower price points and consequently lower quality and something less than beautiful product. At the same time retail building material outlets shifted from local and regional stores that reflected localized preferences to national outlets with more generic products. The reason that only States Industries and Murphy are still producing natural wood veneered plywood paneling is that prices for those products are 25% to 40% higher than synthetic faced, composite cored products. Consumers prefer natural wood, but they expect to pay mock wood prices.

…Thanks for your interest.

Bill Powell
Marketing Manager
States Industries LLC

You know, since launching my newest leetle blog, Knotty is Nice, I have been paying more attention to the wood paneling, ceilings and beams that I see in photographs that readers send me of midcentury houses. There were a lot of wood paneled walls! And when the wood is good wood, the wood walls can be very nice indeed.

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Comments

  1. clampers says

    Beautiful pics.

    I love my wood-paneled sunken living room. I wonder if anyone has advice on how to fill the numerous nail holes that pepper my wood paneling though? They are not so bad but definitely detract from the otherwise beautiful wood…just sort of an eyesore. Any advice would be appreciated. :)

    • Lynne says

      Maybe you could try a little wood filler and one of those stain/scratch cover pens. I think Minwax makes them.

  2. Wendy M. says

    What a fun “little known fact” about paneling! I had to run upstairs to measure the spacing of ours- sure enough, it follows that formula.

  3. TroySF says

    If you’re not feeling that “groove-y”, you can still buy “Eichler philippine mahogany paneling” (it’s generally known these days as “luan paneling”) for as little as $10 a 4-foot x 8-foot sheet. And it’s easy to finish with Watco Danish Oil which comes in variety of shades and colors from natural to black walnut to red mahogany.

  4. Kersten says

    It pains me to know there’s beautiful mahogany paneling under the sheetrock in our main floor living/dining rooms. (We have pictures of the original.) It’s my dream to one day attempt to take down a couple sheets of the sheetrock to see if the paneling survived or not.

    • Christa says

      Removing sheet rock that is screwed into the paneling? Your paneling below is most likely truly screwed. You might just want to put 1/4″ paneling over the sheetrock. That way you get a clean surface. Danish oil and you are back to the original look with much less work. The sheetrock offers some sound proofing and more fire safety anyway.

  5. BrigittaV says

    Many years ago I worked for an integrated forest products company (which means they made everything from plywood to paper), and an employee explained to me that most “wood panel” products could only keep the word wood because they were in fact made from cheap luan wood. This was the base, but the wood “grain” was actually a polymer applied in a way that was just a photograph of an actual wood grain. A “higher” quality of wood panel product might have multiple layers to simulate a sort of 3-D grain. The way you could tell whether the product was made of real wood veneer or was instead a polymer photo was whether the grain pattern repeated regularly. If you laid several sheets of the polymer product side by side, and in the correct orientation, the exact repeat of the grain pattern would become apparent. Real wood doesn’t have an exact repeat, even if the veneer is from the same log.

    I was told this in the eighties, and perhaps manufacturers have gotten cagier about disguising the process, but I can certainly see evidence of this in the paneling my parents applied liberally to every room in their house.

    • BrigittaV says

      PS — I did not say all that to cast any aspersions on the manufacturer cited above. I have no doubt that they use true wood veneers. I’m just pointing out that you get what you pay for, and if the price seems to low, well, there’s a reason for that.

  6. says

    Our 1963 Time capsule in Florida has beautiful Cherry paneling, which I just love. One room has a different wood, I think maybe pecan. The pattern is orangeburg, which I had never heard of, interesting to find out something new! There are pix of it in my blog @ http://elaineswhim.blogspot.com/2012/03/time-capsule-house-is-work-in-progress.html

    Luckily for us, all the nail holes were put into the grooves, so the paneiing looks good as new. I think you could fill holes with wood filler and color them to match with those pens as Lynn suggested upthread.

  7. Christa says

    Just chiming in with my paneling and siding experiences. I have some”Japanese Mahogany” paneling, walls of Mahogany ply cabinets, and Redwood heartwood walls. I haven’t had much luck with my wood repairs. My house is full of nail holes, chips in the paneling, and a few giant cuts made when an extremely overzealous alarm system was installed in the 80s.

    To repair I have used wood patch. I bought multiple colors and created blends to match. It took lots of time and dental tools to get it right. I’ve also used those waxy wood fillers, which can be blended – they sort of look like big crayons, and you melt them to use if repairing scratches. It works if the hole or mark is small, but larger chunks are just very difficult to do. I’m an artist, so I would rate my skill level as fairly high. I was not satisfied with the results of any chips larger than about 1/2″ across.

    I have had better luck replacing the damaged wood with all new wood that I treat with Danish oil to get it to match the older sections. The wood I buy is from a high end lumber business that services furniture makers and architects. No way could not find these old mahogany and heartwood redwood lumbers at HD or Lowes. And yes, it costs a lot more. I’ve tried to buy reclaimed, but it just isn’t readily available.

  8. Ben says

    I want this in my living room, but impossible to find this in France!!!
    I wish they could send it overseas… Thanks for the article!

  9. Barbara Wrape says

    I removed a picture from my pecan panelling after 40 years and I now have a rectangle on the wall that is lighter than the rest of the panels. What can I do to darken/blend this in with the rest of the wall?

  10. Charles says

    I recently redid my office in MCM style and I was desperate to find rich wood panelling. I was unable to find anything affordable so I ended up panelling the walls with (much more affordable) wood flooring. It looks fantastic. Real panelling would have been better, but for anyone budget-conscious as I was, the flooring did a marvelous job.

  11. Charles says

    Does anyone know from what retail store i could find the 3/8′ orangeburg pattern paneling? I have some damage on one wall and need 2-3 panels to repair.

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