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Wood Paneling Vs Drywall

Wood Paneling Vs Drywall

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Wood paneling or drywall are common materials used on walls or ceilings in various homes. However, each has got its benefits and disadvantages which you should consider before settling for any. But your choice will largely depend on your taste, money, or time you’ll require to install any of them.

Drywall will make your walls or ceiling have a smooth and attractive finish, while wood paneling will result in strong walls which require less time to install. But it will not give you a perfect finish. So, which one should you settle for?

Read this informative guide and learn the difference between the two to help you make an informed choice. We’ll also show you the disadvantages of each material.

What Is Drywall?

Drywall Sheets

Drywall is a popular type of building material that’s installed between two thick sheets of paper. It’s commonly referred to as gypsum, and most people currently use it in place of plaster. Some people also call it plasterboard, gypsum board, custard board, or sheetrock. These wall materials come as large panels in a ready-to-cut form.

What Is Wood Paneling?

Wood Paneling

Wood paneling is where you use wide thin pieces of wood as a decorative treatment or architectural design to cover damaged areas. The sheets of wood can be cumbersome to install and require you to use an adhesive to hold them together.

Differences Between Drywall and Wood Paneling

Installation Process

The installation process of wood panels does not require too much work as the sheets are less weighty than drywall. This means that if you are installing the drywall, you have to work with another person to help you lift the heavy materials.

Additionally, you’ll have to tape, apply joint compound and sand the drywall joints to smoothen them. Doing all this will take your time and require you to use extra energy to accomplish the work.

However, this is not the case with wood paneling, as you only apply adhesive or caulk the sheets and let them dry off. So, it’s advisable to install wood paneling to save on time and do less work during installation.

Structural Strength

Another notable difference between the two materials is their structural strength. Drywalls are strong but require studs to support any heavy object you want to hang.  For example, after fixing drywall, you’ll have to locate the studs before drilling through to get adequate support.

But if you’ve got wood paneling on the walls, you’ll not struggle to identify the ideal spot to hang your tv or artwork. Instead, you’ll screw them directly. This is because wood panels have good structural strength that can support weighty objects, unlike drywall.

The structural strength of wood paneling also makes it the ideal choice for those who don’t like dents or damages on their walls after drilling through. This makes wood paneling a perfect choice for those who want to hang/ mount objects on their walls without falling off or creating dents.


Even though both materials tend to be strong, where you install them can affect their durability. If you install wood panels on a wet region, you’ll have to stain them regularly to prevent them from rotting.

On the other hand, you will have difficulties if you’ve got drywall in some areas like the kitchen, store, or garage where you hang your tools or shelves. This is because you’re likely to have dents on the walls making it look uncared for. But generally, wood panels are strong and more durable than drywall.

Fire and Noise Resistance

If you want the best material that’s fire-resistant, consider drywall. Drywall will also act as a noise barrier preventing noise from within or outside the walls. This makes it the safest material for building your homes, especially in areas that are prone to experience frequent fire outbreaks.

But wood panels are not fire-resistant and can encourage its spread faster. Wood paneling is also not a barrier to sound. So, you’ll not have quiet rooms that prevent noise from outside the house after installing them on your walls or ceiling. This makes drywall the best choice for those in noisy environments that are prone to experience frequent fires.  

Attractive Finishing

If you install wood paneling, the natural wood grain will make this space have a finished rustic warm look. Remember, you get to trim or stain the wood paneling to have the desired look. But with drywall, you’ve got to paint it to have a smooth-looking surface. However, the dark colors in wood can make your rooms look darker and dull.

Drywall will brighten the rooms as it’s got reflective features making this space beautiful and relaxing. It also provides you with a vast choice of finishes. You can, for example, opt for orange peel textures or knock-down for your drywall.


You will spend a lot of money installing wood paneling as wooden materials tend to be more expensive than drywall. The amount you’ll spend on wood paneling will depend on the type of wood you’re to use. This amount will also depend on the wood thickness and length. Note that this is minus the labor charge and other additional expenses like staining.

But you’ll spend less money if you opt for drywall as they’re cheap to buy and install. For example, a square foot of drywall goes for $1.50. The labor charge for every drywall panel will cost you between $40 and $60. This means if you’ve got the same size of the room to install either of the materials, you’ll spend more cash on wood paneling.

Decorative Properties

You will not have challenges decorating drywall as it’s a plain and smooth surface. You can either paint, use wallpaper on it or create textures on drywall. However, you’ll have difficulties doing the same on wood paneling.

Note that wood paneling has an aesthetic natural look but doesn’t hold paint perfectly. Wood paneling also has some texture which makes it hard to decorate or install wallpaper.

Disadvantages Of Wood Paneling

Wood paneling will cost you a lot of money to install. It will also take you time to install as you’ve got to arrange them to create a beautiful design carefully. Furthermore, wood paneling will not act as a sound or fire barrier in your rooms. And if you opt for dark wood panels, it will make your space look dull and unattractive.

Disadvantages Of Drywall

Drywall is heavier and requires more than one person to install. It’s also not attractive unless you paint or cover it with wallpapers. Also, you’ll spend more time installing drywall as it requires more work. All this will make you pay more for labor charges.

Another disadvantage of drywall is that it’s prone to get spoiled faster. This is especially when you’re identifying the location of studs or drilling holes for hanging/mounting items.

Wood Paneling Vs. Drywall: Which One Should You Choose?

Choosing between wood paneling and drywall will largely depend on the effect you want to create in your house. Wood panels will give you a rustic natural feel that’s simple and neat.

However, drywall will brighten your space as it’s reflective. It will also help you make your house sound and fireproof. This will improve your safety and make your building relaxing and comfortable to stay in.

Apart from that, your choice will also be affected by your preference and preparedness to handle each material. If you want durable and easy to maintain surfaces opt for wood paneling. But if you aim to have fire-resistant walls and cheaper options, drywall is the best pick. Note that it’s challenging to fix this material as it requires more than one person to install.

Since drywall is fire-resistant, you can install it to make your house safer and protect your items from damages. Drywall will not burn as fast as wood paneling would do. Also, drywall will make the house noise-free as it acts as a noise barrier, making you have a conducive environment.  

Wood Paneling Vs. Drywall: The Verdict

Wood paneling and drywall have their advantages and disadvantages, which you should consider before settling for any. However, the choice relies on your budget and the nature of the job while installing them. 

If you want a natural look, easy-to-fix, and maintain material opt for wood paneling. Drywall will protect your house from fire, make it soundproof and allow you to decorate your walls or ceiling with ease.

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