The collective and generally decorative use of panels fitted to inner walls and ceilings and sometimes on the exteriors of buildings. It has the effect of revealing and drawing out the true character of any material through the play of light and shadow on its large surface area.
Wood panelling: used either in sections or over whole walls and ceilings, in a series of adjoining, carved, worked or individual fielded panels, finished with integrated top and bottom rails. Dado, skirting, wainscot or kick boards cover the ends of panels, panel frames or boards, leaving the panels behind free to expand and contract naturally in reaction to ambient temperature fluctuations. Indeed, wood panelling must be allowed to breathe, to move, so filler should never be used to close the essential gaps between panels, or between the panel edges and their field.
Painting is the most appropriate finish where and for whatever reason, inferior or lower grade wood has been used. Paint should not be so thick that it clogs gaps, because when wood moves it is stronger than filler and paint and the stress will cause jagged cracking.
Clapperboard is simple wood panelling that covers the outside of a house, specifically designed to keep in warmth and repel inclement weather. The boards are fixed horizontally using a nail and hammer, a rudimentary method which has the merit of relying on man’s labour solely; the size and shape of each plank in traditional clapperboarding relates to the shape of the tree, and the angle at which it is fixed allows water to run off.
Tongue and grooved panelling (or TGV) is series of vertical–or horizontal–planks with one grooved edge and the other with a protruding ‘tongue’, which enables every plank to slot into another, allowing a certain amount of movement. Nowadays, TGV or tongue grooved and beaded (TGVB) tend to be chosen as a design feature, recalling cottage style architecture. In the past, however, it was the result of ‘necessity being the mother of invention’, a solution for dealing with rising damp on cob, stone or any other walls built with little or poor foundations: the planks would be battened off the wall, leaving adequate room for air to flow behind, preserving both the outer wall and the wood itself. They required less maintenance than repairing walls on a constant basis and, being almost always painted, could be made with basic soft wood. This method of ‘damp proofing’ relies on air being able to flow freely behind, and so important that modern plastic paints and fillers are not used to block every crack, crevice and gap.
Tongue and grooved panelling also looks good, which is why it remains ever popular.
Stone panelling: panels of marble and limestone can be worked, carved and framed as well as the most intricate wood work.Where the stone is book-matched the effect is stunning, and other carved effects make a very plain or lesser quality stone perhaps more interesting, or appropriate. However, when the stone is left unworked, relying solely on simplicity the natural fossilisation and striations create stunningly beautiful full walls or work surfaces, displaying the full glory of the material.