How to Cover Wood Paneling with Upholstery

For an updated look, consider covering your wood paneling with upholstery. Not only will fabric add color, but it will give the walls added depth and texture. Follow these steps to get the job done.

Fabric Selection

The fabric you choose should depend on the look and style of the room. If it's a large wall, choose a subtle pattern or stripe. Something too busy will overwhelm the space. Also, select a fabric that is durable. Anticipate dirt or stains and be prepared to clean it if necessary.

If you aren't familiar with working with fabric, choose a style that will be forgiving when you go to match it to its adjoining pieces. One alternative is to use a solid color and alternate running it horizontally and vertically on the wall. That will add texture without having to be too precise.


Even though the walls are already covered with wood, you'll need something to attach the fabric to that gives it symmetry and allows for the seams. By using large pieces of plywood, you'll be able to attach the fabric in columns. If you can't find plywood that's as long as the wall, use pieces that are half the size, and use 2 per column. For instance, if the wall is 8 feet high, use two sheets of plywood that are 4 feet long. The width will depend on the width of your fabric. Most upholstery fabric is 60 inches wide. Decide if you want the panels to be squares or rectangles. The size of the fabric and wall will help make the determination.

Batting or Foam

To give the wall the proper depth, you'll need to start with a soft layer. Batting is the most common option. It can be found in rolls in most fabric stores. Use a staple gun to attach it to the plywood boards. A single layer is sufficient.

Cut the batting to the size of the board and only staple it to the front. Avoid going around the edges because this will make the panels harder to glue to the wall. Just use staples to secure the batting. The fabric will do the rest.


Cover the batting with the fabric by stapling it to the plywood. Fold it over the edge and pull it taut. Start at the top of the board and make sure it's straight before stapling it all the way around. Do the same thing with the rest of the boards making sure to match the pattern in the fabric with the coordinating boards.


Once the boards are covered it's time to attach them to the wall. A heavy duty adhesive should do the trick as long as you stapled the fabric flush to the backs of the plywood. Start with a corner piece and attach each subsequent piece like you would a puzzle. The pieces should fit snug and no gaps between them.

The end result will be an upholstered wall that adds character and style to your room.