What Is Textured Wall Paneling?

3d modular wood

Modular Arts 

Simply put, you cannot duplicate the look of these walls on your own; you need help. And help is on the way in the form of textured 3D wall panels, an innovation that most homeowners don't know about.

Formerly found only in fancy cocktail lounges and boutique hotels, textured panels are slowly finding their way into the home as cool, unique, and jaw-droppingly amazing wall coverings for kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms.

What Textured Wall Panels Are

Textured wall panels are three-dimensional (3D) panels made from lightweight materials that can be primed and painted. Less expensive wall panels are made of paper or of a sugarcane stalk material called bagasse. Costlier panels are made of gypsum or of medium-density fiberboard (MDF), a pressed board material that is nearly as strong as natural wood.

Textured wall panels can be a quick, attractive cover-up for walls with surface issues, while providing a bit of soundproofing and thermal insulation. Some are as easy to install as peeling off a protective strip and applying with self-adhesive. Others require screws and glue.

Cutting the Panels

Depending on the type of materials, the panels can be cut with a utility knife or light electric saw, such as a cordless jigsaw or circular saw. Most standard woodworking tools can be used to cut or trim textured wall panels to size.

Installing the Panels

Textured wall panels are typically mounted directly to drywall or another substrate by screws. Glue is used to attach the panels from side to side. Drywall compound or another type of filler is used for large seams.

After the seams are filled, they are sanded smooth. Then, the panels are primed and painted. Matte panel is preferable not just for aesthetics but because matte paint has a lighter body than glossier paints. Two coats of primer and two coats of paint are required.

Panels' Durability

Due to the thin product material and hollow spaces created by protrusions, there may be concerns about the durability of the panels. Paper, coconut fiber, bagasse, and other lightweight textured panels puncture easily and are difficult to repair. Gypsum and MDF textured wall panels are as strong—or even stronger—as drywall wallboard. If gypsum or MDF panels become chipped with impact, they can be patched with drywall compound and sanded over.

  • 01 of 09

    Textured Panels Go Over Existing Walls

    Textured Wall Panel Around Fireplace
    Michael Soelberg / Soelberg Industries

    Soelberg Industries' panel called Stillare, installed in the Pepperwood Residence, Sandy, Utah, demonstrates how textured wall panels can be used to maximize visual interest in key locations like accent walls, ceilings, or here, fireplaces.

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  • 02 of 09

    Beechwood Textured Wall Panels

    Beechwood 3D Textured Wall Panels
    Kate Moss of Picaboo Photos

    This lovely textured panel is from Soelberg and is called Piastra. Piastra comes in planks (Soelberg terms them slats) ranging from 4" x 12" all the way up to 6" x 36".

    The pictured panels are created from MDF and they mimic beechwood. But why not just use real wood?

    Wood is an option.  But it's not without its faults, either.  Even in interior applications, wood will eventually fade and require re-staining and re-sealing; Soelberg panels' finishes will last indefinitely.

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  • 03 of 09

    Cool, Sixties-Style Textured Wall Panels!

    Textured Wall Panels From Bagasse
    Wall Art

    So wonderfully happy, this is the Caryota style of textured wall panel from WallArt 3D. The caryota is a type of fishtail palm, so named because the leaves resemble the tail of a fish. It's a pattern that looks like the starbursts often found in mid-century modern style home designs.

    Panels from WallArt are made of bagasse, a lightweight sugarcane stalk material. So these panels are as green as they get, and leaps and bounds greener than MDF.

    WallArt panels stick to your existing wall with construction adhesive.

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  • 04 of 09

    Flow and Continuity With 3D Wall Panels

    Flow: Textured 3D Wall Panels
    Wall Art

    Two important features of 3D panels are flow and continuity. While you can get panels that stick on the wall in any direction, like WallArt's Caryota panels, another class of panels (from any of these manufacturers), matches up from panel to panel.

    The Flows collection shown here from WallArt has lines that link from one panel to the next, creating a unified appearance. It doesn't matter which panel you choose: it is guaranteed to match up with the previous panel (just make sure it maintains the same horizontal or vertical movement, though).

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  • 05 of 09

    Cube Style 3D Wall Panel Enlivens Living Room

    3D Wall Panel Purple Cube Wall Dimensions
    Wall Dimension

    Get a smashing vibrant purple wall with this cube-shaped 3D textured panel from Wall Dimension.  These panels come unpainted, and you can color them anything you wish (paint sprayer recommended).

    Two differences between Wall Dimension (shown here) and WallArt (shown previously):

    1. Wall Dimension's panels are made of thin plastic vs. WallArt's plant fiber-based panels. Wall Dimension has a comparison chart showing how, at least in their opinion, plastic panels are better than fiber panels.
    2. Wall Dimension's panels self-stick to the wall with pre-applied adhesive.
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  • 06 of 09

    Fun Yellow Circles: Only 3D Wall Panels Can Do This

    Circle Style Textured 3D Wall Panel
    Wall Dimension

    This is where you see the benefits of 3D wall panels: it's impossible to duplicate this look using any kind of 2D wall covering. The multiplicity of 3D yellow circles really makes this contemporary living room snap, crackle, and pop. From Wall Dimension, this pattern is called Circle.

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  • 07 of 09

    Modern-Look Designer-Quality 3D Modular Wall Panels

    Zelle Textured Modern Wall Panels
    Modular Arts

    This pattern is called Zelle and it's from Modular Arts, a high-end design materials company based in Seattle.

    Where these panels differ from other panels is in the composition. The cheaper panels are made of plastic or plant fiber and are hollow. Modular Arts' InterlockingRock Panels are a cement-like, fibrous material that is dense, durable, and fire-resistant. Even so, it is relatively lightweight, tipping the scales at only 1.3 to 3 pounds per square foot.

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  • 08 of 09

    Stream Patterned 3D Modular Wall Panel

    Stream Textured 3D Panel
    Modular Arts

    Stream-style 3D wall panels are the most popular out there, and these from Modular Arts are no exception. With the panels in the back-left, you'll notice that the stream-styled panels are mounted vertically. Which begs the question: is it still a stream? Sure, it's just an upward-flowing stream. These are InterlockingRock Panels.

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  • 09 of 09

    Perfect Demonstration of 3D Wall Panel Usage

    Textures 3D Stream-Patterned Panel By Fireplace
    Textures 3D

     When looking for textured wall panels, no doubt you'll run into a company called Textures 3D.  Company representative Carlos Alberto states that Textures 3D was one of the earliest companies to offer textured panel products.  

    Starting in 2006, Textures 3D began selling a lower-cost panel at a time when competing 4-foot by 8-foot panels went for $1,200.  They were also the first to standardize industry terms by using the words "texture" and "3D" and trademarking these terms.

    This image is so perfect because it demonstrates how the seams of these solid panels (MDF vs. hollow plastic or bagasse panels) can be filled to visually obliterate the seam altogether. It also shows how textured wall panels are best reserved for those one or two special walls often known as accent walls. Not only would it be too costly to panel every room in your house with this product, but stylistically it just wouldn't work.