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Wall panelling with plywood architectural panels: modern approach

Wall panelling with plywood architectural panels: modern approach - Ply Online

Ply Online Admin |

In recent years, timber-based and plywood architectural panels have emerged as a versatile and stylish option for interior wall panelling. Whether you're looking to renovate your home or enhance a commercial space, this product offers a blend of functionality and aesthetic appeal. This article explores the benefits, design options, and installation considerations of using plywood-based and bamboo or timber wall panels for interior panelling.

Benefits of plywood-based wall panelling

Plywood-based architectural decorative wall panels offer significant advantages in interior design, supported by scientific research and real-world applications. Plywood is engineered to enhance physical and mechanical properties beyond those of natural wood, making it a preferred choice for many architectural projects. Research by Wood & Timber Research Centre (WTRC) emphasizes plywood's superior strength-to-weight ratio, which results in panels that are lightweight yet exceptionally durable. This characteristic makes plywood easy to handle during construction and less susceptible to warping or cracking compared to solid wood wall panels, ensuring long-term structural integrity (Biswas et al., 2020).

The versatility of plywood panels is well-documented in projects like Helsinki Central Library Oodi, where it was extensively used for both functional and aesthetic purposes. This pliability arises from the plywood manufacture technology with use of various veneers and finishes, providing designers with a wide range of options to customize appearances to suit any design style. Research published in the Journal of Architectural Engineering Technology has explored the application of plywood in achieving both structural and design flexibility, highlighting its role in contemporary architecture (Johnson & Smith, 2018).

Design Options and Versatility: These ceiling and wall panels come in a range of thicknesses, sizes, and patterns, offering endless possibilities for creating unique interior spaces. Whether you prefer a sleek, minimalist look or a more textured and rustic feel, plywood-based panels can be customised. Plywood panels may also serve as a blank canvas for creative treatments such as staining, painting, or even leaving natural to showcase the wood's inherent beauty.

Projects with timber-based and plywood wall panels

Birch Plywood House by Gruff Architects (London, UK)

This residential project prominently features birch plywood panels throughout the interior, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. The plywood panels are used for wall cladding, built-in furniture, and even as ceiling finishes.

Photo credit: French + Tye

National Museum of Qatar (Doha, Qatar):

The museum's interior incorporates intricate wall panelling to create contemporary interpretation of the traditional Qatari architectural motifs. The timber wall panels of the public spaces were inspired by Dahl Al Misfir.

Panels are used to clad walls and ceilings, contributing to the museum's aesthetic, providing durable and flexible material for complex geometric designs.

Photo credit: Tom Fergusson Photography

Helsinki Central Library Oodi (Helsinki, Finland):

Oodi features extensive use of plywood in its interior, reflecting Finland's rapport with timber construction. Plywood panels are utilized for structural elements, furniture, and acoustic wall panels, showcasing their versatility in creating a functional yet visually appealing public space.

Photo credit: Tuomas Uusheimo

The Smile by Alison Brooks Architects (London Design Festival, UK):

This installation is a curved timber structure made entirely of cross-laminated tulipwood panels. The innovative use of timber wall panels demonstrates potential for creating organic shapes and forms, pushing the boundaries of architectural design.

Photo credit: Alison Brooks

Google Offices (Various locations worldwide):

Google often incorporates plywood architectural panels in their office interiors to foster a creative and collaborative work environment. Plywood is highly used for feature wall panelling treatments, shelving units, and decorative elements, offering a customizable and sustainable solution that aligns with Google's design ethos.

Photo credit: Rapt Studios

Environmental Considerations

Plywood-based decorative wall panels present a sustainable choice. It is made from timber grown on plantations. Majority of the plywood manufacturers prioritize eco-friendly production practices ensuring minimum-to-zero environmental impact.


  • Energy efficient manufacturing: The production process of plywood typically requires less energy compared to alternative materials like concrete or steel, further reducing its carbon footprint. Vast majority of the waste from plywood production is used for heating and other production needs.
  • Recyclable and Biodegradable: Plywood can be easily recycled or repurposed at the end of its lifecycle, minimizing waste and contributing to circular economy principles.
  • Certifications for Sustainable Sourcing: Many plywood manufacturers adhere to certifications such as FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification), ensuring that the wood used comes from responsibly managed forests.


  • Adhesives and Chemicals: The production of plywood involves some adhesives that may contain phenol-formaldehyde or other chemicals like sealant paint, which can emit over time and contribute to indoor air pollution.
  • Transportation Impact: Plywood is often manufactured in specific regions and may need to be transported over long distances, leading to carbon emissions associated with transportation.
  • Potential Habitat Impact: While sustainable practices mitigate this, intensive forestry practices for plywood production can affect local ecosystems and biodiversity if not managed responsibly.
  • Quality and Consistency: quality of the face plywood veneers may vary depending on harvesting season and geographical location. It is impossible to find two identically looking plywood sheets, each face have its unique shade, timber grain pattern, colour and natural features.

Installation Tips and Considerations

Installing plywood ceiling and wall panels requires careful planning to achieve professional finish. Proper measurement and preparation of the wall surface are essential to ensure panels fit securely. Depending on the installation method—whether adhesive, nails, or screws—consulting with a professional or following manufacturer guidelines can help streamline the process and minimize potential challenges.

Surface Preparation:

  • The substrate surface must be clean, dry and levelled.

Measurements and layout:

Measure your walls precisely (close to the floor, in the middle and at the top) using a tape measure or laser measurer. Protocol all irregularities in the wall height or width

Make a hand drawing of your wall or ceiling using a ruler or 1 millimetre grid paper at a desirable scale. Mark the centreline on the wall.

Draw wall panels on your drawing ensuring sheets spread evenly.

Transfer all layout lines on the wall using laser or oil level to ensure panels are installed straight and aligned.

Installation Methods:


  • Use a construction adhesive for timber, applying it in vertical beads approximately 200 mm apart.
  • Spread the adhesive evenly with a notched trowel to ensure full coverage.
  • Press plywood ceiling and wall panel firmly into place, ensuring they are levelled and flush with adjoining panels.
  • Secure panels temporarily with brad nails (test nails before the installation to make sure plywood will not snap) via plywood edge or clamps while the adhesive cures, typically for 24 hours.

 Mechanical Fastening (Nails, Screws Monarch z-clip system or other):


  • For 18 mm thick plywood panels, use 50mm long nails or screws spaced approximately 200 mm apart along studs or furring strips.
  • Pre-drill holes slightly smaller than the diameter of the fasteners to prevent splitting.
  • Drive nails or screws flush with the surface using a hammer or drill/driver, ensuring panels are securely fastened.
  • Always test material before using nails, most of the plywoods may snap.

Consultation and Guidelines:

  • Consult with a professional installer or refer to manufacturer guidelines specific to the type of plywood and installation method.
  • Consider environmental factors such as temperature and humidity during installation, aiming for conditions of 15-25 degrees and 40-60% humidity for optimal adhesive performance.

 Plywood-based architectural panels offer a modern, sustainable, and versatile solution for interior wall panelling. Whether you're aiming to transform a residential living space or enhance the ambiance of a commercial environment, these panels provide the durability, aesthetic appeal, and design flexibility needed to achieve your desired look. Consider incorporating plywood architectural panels into your next interior design project to experience their transformative benefits firsthand.

Explore our selection and discover how these versatile panels can redefine your space. Contact us today to learn more about our products and start envisioning your ideal interior transformation.