How to Finish Your Walls
4 Think beyond painted plaster or wallpaper and take a peek into the wider world of wall coverings, where anything from metal to concrete is a possibility, says Natasha Brinsmead
Looking for something a little different to painted plaster or wallpaper? Read our guide to the alternatives, including interior timber cladding
Along with your choice of flooring, it is your walls that define the overall look of your home, acting as a backdrop for your interiors. In the past, the most adventurous wall coverings tended to be timber panelling (still a great option incidently). However, there are more options than ever now on offer, transforming interior spaces, be they traditional or contemporary, and giving homes walls that make a design statement.
The trend for metals such as copper, brass and bronze continues. We’ve done light fittings, brassware and even exposed pipes, but hot on their heels is interior wall cladding. Metal sheets, in both pre-cut sizes as well as cutto-size pieces, are available for bonding to walls, and some are available with a handy peelable adhesive backing. Alternatively, you might consider metal tiles, suitable for floors, walls and ceilings.
If an entire metal-clad wall is a bit overthe-top for your taste, consider making a feature of just one wall or creating a small panel within an otherwise plain wall or ceiling.
Timber-clad walls are nothing new, yet they remain a popular feature. This is a simple-to-install wall cladding, easy to use in retrofit situations and cost-effective too.
Timber cladding can be custom made or picked up in off-the-shelf packs for as little as from £6/m2 for softwood planks. The simplest form of timber cladding is tongueand-groove, also known as ‘ butt and bead’ jointed boards. This style is great at dealing with any movement, too.
Although timber cladding is a good option (it is usually engineered), MDF cladding, which is inexpensive, easy to cut and fit and has no knots, is also widely used. The new wave of moisture-resistant MDF boards cost only a little more and are better suited to kitchens and bathrooms.
Laser-cut wood panels are ideal for contemporary homes and can be customised to your own design then glued to the wall. Alternatively, pre-cut and stained square panels, either in a wood veneer or real wood, can look stunning arranged over an entire wall.
Similar to timber cladding, wood panelling comes in various designs, often with names such as ‘Georgian’ and ‘Arts & Crafts’, although there are modern designs available.
Panelling is made from either MDF, MDF with a real wood veneer or solid timber (softwood will need to be treated with a primer and painted to avoid movement issues).
‘Open backed’ panelling uses sheets of MDF with the panels cut out. These ‘frames’ can then be glued directly to the walls and painted for a traditional panel look at a fraction of the cost of the real thing.
Shuttered or ‘ board-formed’ concrete is hot news in contemporary house design. Constructed on site, timber or steel boards are used to create a mould into which the concrete is poured and set, before the mould is removed, leaving the imprint of the ‘shuttering’ equipment on the concrete — wood grain bringing texture this raw material.
In renovations or in situations where just small areas of concrete wall cladding are required, precast wall panels can be used, usually made from glass-reinforced concrete for its lightweight properties.
Brick and Stone Cladding
Exposed brick and stone are usually the reserve of older buildings, but they are appearing in modern homes more frequently, too. If you have solid brick or stone walls that are in sound condition, it is well worth cleaning them up, repointing where necessary and leaving them to do their thing.
In new builds, it might be necessary to ‘fake it’ — stone cladding panels are made from real stone and are supplied in panels, ready to be fixed with adhesive. Brick slips are also a good idea. H
1. Eldorado Stacked Stone in Nantucket. £59.99/m2 + VAT from Zclad; 2. Motivo Piedra Celeste from MB DIY, a PVC cladding system that is fully waterproof. Sold in packs of four panels costing £20/m2; 3. Sylvaket Harmony solid beech timber from Junckers. From £51/m2; 4. Concrete shuttering has here been used on both the walls and ceilings. A Variety of Choices