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9 Easy DIY Wall Panels to Add Character to a Wall

Here are 9 easy and budget friendly ways to add character to a plain wall with DIY wall panels!

One of my favorite ways to add character to a plain, standard wall is with a DIY panel wall treatment. It looks amazing, transforms the wall and room, and it’s almost always a very easy and budget friendly project to do!

9 DIY wall panels to add character to a standard wall

Keep in mind the cost will vary by the size of your wall, the smaller the cheaper and the larger it is the more expensive. Sometimes it’s more affordable (and easier) to just do one accent wall instead of the entire room.

Below I am sharing all of the details on types of DIY wall panels, including the materials and tools needed, as well as links to the step by step tutorials (many with how to videos too) for each wall panel idea.

Where to install DIY wall panels

DIY wood panel walls looks great in any living space, they create a beautiful focal point. But, they are especially impactful in a bedroom, living room, dining room, and front room or entryway.

As I said before, you can just do one accent wall or statement wall to keep the project easier and more affordable. Or you can go all out and do the entire room.

Materials and tools needed for a DIY Wall Panel

I have links to step by step tutorials for each of the 10 DIY wall panel ideas below which include the exact materials and tools needed for each project.

However, here is an overview of the most common materials and tools used for all of these wall panel projects. All of these materials can be found at your local home improvement store like Home Depot or Lowe’s.

Also, for step by step details on how to paint a walls panel and all of the painting materials needed, see our DIY painted accent wall tutorial!

Note, this post contains some affiliate links. For more info see my disclosures here.


First, you need your actual wall panel material, which is typically some type of wood board, wood strips, or MDF boards. Although plywood, PVC, and special moldings are other common materials for DIY wall paneling.

See all of the specific wall panel ideas below for the type of wall panel material used. Here are the other common materials and right tools to use:

  • Nails or Screws – Typically I use 18 gauge brad nails, since these can hold most wall panel materials and don’t leave a huge hole. Occasionally, screws may be needed instead for a stronger connection.
  • Construction Adhesive (like Liquid Nails) – If you can’t secure your wall panel to a wall stud with a nail or screw, it can be securely attached to the wall with construction adhesive instead. If your material is really lightweight you may not need to use this.
  • Level or Laser Level – Very important for ensuring a level wall panel that’s not crooked! You want to start off on a straight line.
  • Tape Measure
  • Paintable Caulk – Makes those wall panel seams look seamless with a clean finish!
  • Stainable Wood Filler or Spackle – To fill in all of the nail holes.
  • Wood Primer – Always necessary when painting if you have bare wood or any material not pre-primed or ready to paint.
  • Paint – I love using an eggshell finish.
  • Wood Stain – Check out 10 of my favorite wood stain colors here!


  • Miter Saw – To cut the wall panel material.
  • Brad Nailer – to secure the panel to the wall.
  • Drill – if any screws or special holes are needed.
  • Dremel, Jig Saw, or Oscillating tool – Very helpful for cutting baseboard or around any special wall items (like pipes or outlets).
  • Utility knife and prybar – to remove baseboard or other molding if needed.
  • Stud Finder – an easy way to find the wall studs.

9 DIY Wall Panels That Add Character

Here are the wall panel ideas!

1. DIY Square Panel Moulding or Rectangle Panel Moulding

Square or rectangle panel moulding, which can also be called DIY board and batten that goes from floor to ceiling, is a very classic wood paneling style.

DIY wall panels on entire wall in living room

I installed this style wall panel with rectangles for our living room makeover and love how it elevated the feel of the room.

I used 1×4 and 1×6 pre-primed wood boards to create the wood panels. Get the full tutorial details for this rectangle DIY wall panel here.

panelled walls diy accent wall in living room makeover

2. Horizontal Paneling or Shiplap

One of my very first projects with DIY wall panelling was a DIY horizontal shiplap accent wall in our rustic modern living room makeover.

horizontal diy wall paneling or shiplap in living room

To save money, I used 1/4″ plywood instead of real shiplap boards. I also used this same method for a small accent wall in our DIY entryway makeover.

diy wood panel wall with shiplap in entryway

But horizontal paneling can be done in many different ways and with different materials for the horizontal pieces besides shiplap. Plywood, tongue and groove, v-groove, and boards of all sizes and types can be used for a plank panel look!

Learn about the difference between shiplap vs tongue and groove boards here.

For example, this coastal style plank panel look by Marty’s Musing’s was created with chalk paint on unfinished fence slats.

coastal style plank panel look by Marty Musing's
Coastal style plank panel look by Marty’s Musing’s

3. Board and Batten

One of the most traditional DIY wall panel styles is DIY board and batten wainscoting, where the board and batten just goes partially up the wall.

I love board and batten and installed it for the first time in our primary bathroom makeover.

Get the tutorial details for this DIY board and batten bathroom here where we used extra molding to make it a little fancier for a DIY wood panel wall!

Board and Batten Bathroom wainscoting DIY

For our son’s nursery I created this easy DIY board and batten wall for a feature wall of his room. It’s one of my favorite DIY wall panel wall creations ever using just 1×4 and 1×2 pre-primed boards!

I also used a different color other than white, you can use any color you want!

Again, for step by step details on how to paint a DIY board and batten wall panel, see our DIY painted accent wall tutorial!

DIY board and batten wall or DIY wall panels

4. DIY Vertical Shiplap or Vertical Paneling

Just like with horizontal paneling or shiplap, you can apply the same concept vertically with vertical pieces or boards!

We recently installed a vertical shiplap wall from floor to ceiling in our hallway using real shiplap boards. Again you could use tongue and groove for a similar look to shiplap.

vertical shiplap diy panel wall

5. DIY Vertical Shiplap Wainscoting

Vertical shiplap wainscoting or a vertical shiplap half wall is another fun way to do vertical shiplap instead of doing it on the entire wall.

I used plywood to create our DIY vertical shiplap wainscoting on all of the walls of our guest bathroom makeover for a very low cost. I love the final look!

DIY vertical shiplap wainscoting in bathroom

6. Modern DIY Panel Wall

A DIY modern accent wall panel can be created in many ways.

What makes a modern wall panel style different than more classic or traditional DIY wall treatments is that it’s done in a fresh, new way with unique angles or shapes.

It’s typically some sort of angled wall board with different shapes, but it can also be fluted wall panels or slat boards too.

Here is one fun example of a modern, wood slat accent wall panel by Pine + Poplar using 1x2s and plywood.

Modern wood slat accent wall panel by Pine + Poplar
Wood slat accent wall panel by Pine + Poplar

And this geometric style accent wall by Lovely Etc. is another fun and creative modern panel wall.

7. Beadboard

A DIY beadboard wall is one of the easiest DIY wall panels and it comes in many different options for applying, like planks and panels in wood or MDF.

It has a bit of a cottage feel to it but can be made more modern with a fun paint color like on our new DIY wall here where we used MDF panels for the vertical panels.

beadboard diy wall panels

8. DIY Beadboard Wainscoting

Beadboard can also be applied as wainscoting on a wall where it just goes part way up the wall and is trimmed out with chair rail or another board.

We used this DIY beadboard bathroom wall panel in our small DIY bathroom makeover.

diy beadboard wainscoting in bathroom with bathroom vanity

9. Picture Frame Moulding

DIY picture frame molding is another very traditional, panelled walls DIY that is more of an elegant style wall treatment.

When we moved into our new house last year, our front entryway and dining room had this style wall panel on the lower part of the wall. It could use a fresh coat of paint in these photos!

picture frame molding in dining room
picture frame molding in entryway

It’s typically created using chair rail molding as shown in the above photos. But it can also be created with other materials like 1x2s which Designing Vibes used for her modern DIY picture frame wall:

In our last home, we used chair rail molding mixed with 1x6s to create a unique style of picture frame molding in our small master bathroom makeover.

DIY picture frame molding wall panels in bathroom makeover

I absolutely love adding DIY wall panels to our spaces to add warmth, character, and style. DIY wall paneling really does transform a room and I’m always looking for creative ways to add a fresh look.

Don’t forget to check out our DIY painted accent wall tutorial for details on how to paint wall panels as part of an accent wall as well as shiplap vs tongue and groove to learn about more panel board options!

Which DIY panel wall style is your favorite?!

Save this post for the future if you ever need ideas for sprucing up a room with a DIY project on a budget!

9 DIY wall panels to add character to a standard wall

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