Why Real Estate Agents Actually Love Seeing Wood Paneling

published May 10, 2021
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Realtors see a lot of homes throughout their careers, leading them to develop very strong feelings about certain design aesthetics. While some looks are timeless, there are many that are so dated that they cause realtors to cringe when they see them. You’d think that wood paneling, for instance, would fall into that category, but these four real estate agents explain why there’s a lot to love about the throwback look. 

Modern paneling can be quite chic.

The term “wood paneling” evokes images of 1970s rumpus rooms for most, but that’s not the only type of wood paneling out there. Painted wood paneling, for example, can add intrigue to an otherwise humdrum space.

“Considering that standard drywall is the hallmark of any production home, installing some wood paneling in new construction or remodeled homes is a custom feature that adds incredible dimension and style to any room in the house,” says Ryan Dalzell, a realtor with the Dalzell Group. “As with most interior design, just make sure the coloring is taken into consideration — usually either white for a more muted look or a dark color to really make the feature stand out.”

Credit: Monica Wang

High-quality paneling is timeless. 

The saying “they don’t make it like they used to” is a popular one for a reason. According to Susan Swain, a realtor with Dependable Realty Services, wood paneling falls into this category. “There is nothing like the quality from yesteryear,” she says. “I love the craftsmanship from earlier periods.” Of course, while good wood paneling can stand the test of time, Swain says it’s not always her favorite thing to see in a listing depending on the quality, type, amount, and location of the paneling. 

Not all paneling is designed the same.

According to George Case, a real estate agent with Warburg Realty, wood paneling is to walls what parquet is to floors, and there can be no definitive love or hate without first seeing what kind is in the listing. “There is beautiful wood paneling in modernist homes that provides warmth and depth to rooms. In that case, it falls into the ‘love it’ category,” he says. “Alternatively, there is pressboard ‘wood paneling’ that dates a home, recalls badly decorated rumpus rooms, and begs the question ‘What kind of problems is this covering up?’” That’s the type of wood paneling that can fall into the “hate it” category, according to Case. 

And there’s another kind of paneling Dalzell tries to steer clear of. “The wall-to-ceiling medium brown wood paneling, properly called beadboard, that covered many of the rooms of that era was a look I pray never comes back into style,” Dalzell says. “Our team has renovated many homes and this style of paneling is the first item I’ve personally enjoyed ripping down on demo day!” 

Wood paneling presents an opportunity.

Unlike some other agents, Jude Herr, broker and owner of Boulder Area Realty says the reason she loves seeing wood paneling inside a listing is because of the opportunities it presents. “I would say the only reason I love seeing it is because you can paint over it with any color you choose,” she explains. There’s a lot to love about wood paneling, even if it’s just how creative you can get with it!