Wood veneer wallpaper is made of microthin slices of wood attached to a paper backing. Unlike architectural wood paneling that is built in, wood veneer is installed like other wallcoverings. While there are simple grain patterns available, the vast majority of wood veneer wallcoverings are hand-inlaid in pieces to create eye-catching patterns, like the geometric example seen in this Chicago dining room.
Adds unique depth, texture and warmth. Natural wood veneer is earthy and calming, and the grain characteristics make each installation unique.
“Wood veneer wallcovering on a wall immediately adds a depth and texture difficult to achieve with any other wall treatment,” designer Andra Birkerts says. In her bedroom seen here, the wood grain in each inlaid piece of the Phillip Jeffries wallcovering catches the light differently, depending on its orientation, to create a luminous dance of pattern and texture across the wall.
The chameleon of the wallcovering world, wood veneer is a great choice if you’re not sure what your style is, want design flexibility or think your style might change in the future.
Living rooms, studies, dining rooms and bedrooms are ideal locations for wood veneer wallcovering. And you don’t have to limit it to walls — it’s a great ceiling finish too. However, avoid installation in rooms with high humidity. Powder rooms, like the one here, are fine, but it’s a good idea to bypass full bathrooms.
Wood veneer wallcovering can also fade and discolor with exposure to sunlight, so avoid installing it in rooms with direct, bright or even a lot of reflected light. Or install light-blocking window treatments or glass with a UV rating for protection.
Most wood veneer wallcovering is not manufactured with a protective coating on it. Laura Romanoff, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Maya Romanoff, says for extra durability in high-traffic spaces, it’s a good idea to apply a coat of polyurethane.
A thin coat helps guard against moisture penetration and can be done in the field after the wallcovering adhesive has dried (after 48 hours). Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Or, for an upcharge, Maya Romanoff can add polyurethane at the factory before shipping.
Most wood veneer wallcovering is sold to the trade and isn’t readily available via retail channels. Romanoff says the company’s wood veneer wallcovering retail prices start at about $10 per square foot ($90 per square yard).
Considering that architectural wood veneer paneling material can range from $20 to $30 per square foot, a veneer wallcovering can be considerably more cost-effective. Wood veneer wallcoverings, Riker says, “are unique and provide a wow factor without breaking the bank.”
Many wood veneer wallcoverings carry a class-A ASTM E84 rating, which is the highest value in terms of flame spread and smoke development, should there be a fire.
The wallcovering specifications will include this information. Some manufacturers also indicate that installation with a low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) adhesive is permitted, so be sure to check that if air quality is a concern.