Wooden Slat Wall Panel Buyer’s Guide: Best Woods & Ideas
As interior designers seek to create smart, nature-inspired spaces, internal wood slats have become a hugely popular design feature.
Humans are ‘biophilic’ creatures — we have an innate connection to nature — and wood applied internally has been gaining growing traction in design circles for its ability to improve our physiological wellbeing.
With roots in Japanese architecture, wood wall slats combine inherent natural appeal with a sleek, modern linear design that differs from traditional panelling. Thanks to unique grain patterns and interesting textures, a slatted feature wall easily imbues any room with character, warmth and beauty.
But with an abundance of different timber species from across the world to choose from, architects and designers really are rather spoiled for choice…
We’ve asked our experts for their top recommendations of the very best woods for the job, as well as their tips for choosing one that suits your interior style.
All of our suggestions in this article are quality solid wood. Whilst these naturally command a higher price than cheaper alternatives like pine or engineered veneer slats with an MDF core, we think it’s worth the extra investment for a truly stunning, long-lasting and characterful finish that will never go out of style.
Another tip when buying wall slats: wider slats not only give you more natural wood to look at, but increase coverage. This lowers the m² cost and also labour time when fitting.
The best woods for internal wall slats: your options
Looking to open up your interior? The Nordic-inspired, creamy-whites of American Hard Maple should be your go-to. Other versatile choices include European Oak’s timeless golden browns, the stunning reddish-browns of Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir for its ‘wild’ character. For a darker, even exotic-looking slat wall, Thermo-Ayous or Walnut are both fabulous choices.
American Hard Maple — a gorgeous pale timber for an open, airy interior
Sitting at the light-end of the spectrum, American Hard Maple delivers creamy-white hues (with a pinkish brown tinge) for a light, neutral and Scandi-inspired backdrop to your space, opening up any room.
Your maple slats can be contrasted with pops of colour — perhaps behind a statement painting, a colourful sofa, house plant arrangement or just the TV — or even with striking darker signature pieces to maintain a monochrome theme.
A fascinating species, American Hard Maple packs in a surprising amount of character. Upon closer inspection, you may even see some highly-unique, sought-after pith flecks and other types of figuring.
There’s a lot of debate about what precisely causes this figuring, but it certainly looks incredible. Common types include ‘curly’, ‘bird’s eye’, ‘tiger stripe’ and ‘quilted’ figuring. Be sure to check out our blog post about wood grain patterns and types of figuring for more information!
European Oak — popular for its versatile, iconic golden browns and timeless texture
You just simply can’t argue with oak — it’s been a mainstay of interior and exterior design for centuries.
Its popularity endures, providing a characteristically versatile mix of light-to-medium golden browns, with variation to be expected. Whilst oak is not as pale as maple, it still opens up your space and also allows you to channel those Nordic vibes. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find a space where oak wall slats don’t work.
As a result, you can be pretty sure of your oak wall slats standing the test of time. Not only because they’re incredibly durable, but because oak is timeless. Oak is The Beatles, the plain t-shirt, the aviator sunglasses, the red lipstick, the Converse shoes — it’s never going out of style.
American Black Walnut — an opulent, sophisticated darker choice
Walnut’s iconic creamy, dark chocolate browns (sometimes with purple tinges) immediately evoke a sense of grandeur and magnificence.
A staple of luxury penthouses, walnut finishes beautifully and provides a luxurious, decorative appearance with its outstanding, eye-catching and breathtaking grain pattern.
It’s as iconic as oak and maple, but sits at the complete opposite end of the colour spectrum. Walnut slats are a go-to if you’re after a darker-themed interior, or you’re looking to provide balance to a very light and airy space.
Western Red Cedar — for stunning variety of colours
You’ll probably find Western Red Cedar most popularly applied for external purposes, including cladding and fencing. This is because of its incredible natural durability outdoors, but also because of its eye-catching natural beauty.
Well, it’s also a fabulous species for internal wall slats. The characteristic reddish-browns are complemented by light pinks to dark chocolate browns for an incredibly beautiful wood that’s easily adopted into any stylish interior space.
Douglas Fir — a species packed with character, knots and swirls
A down-to-earth, even rustic choice, the USP of Douglas Fir is its wild, exciting grain pattern. It produces some truly distinctive, characterful wall slats.
That’s not to say Fir is too ‘out there’ — the light reddish-brown is incredibly versatile and works well in almost any space — but the knots and swirls you’ll see in many examples of this species just ooze natural character.
Great for a space that wants to reflect an uncomplicated, nature-connected theme — perhaps a barn conversion, outbuilding or area that manages a transition between the indoors with the outdoors.
Thermo-Ayous — to create an exotic-themed, luxurious space
Sometimes, darker-coloured walls can feel a little flat and devoid of character. Not so with Thermo-Ayous.
Mimicking expensive (and often unsustainably harvested) exotic species like mahogany and teak at a fraction of the cost, Thermo-Ayous imparts a sense of luxury and intrigue on any space.
Ayous is a species sourced sustainably from the forests of West and Central Africa. Once thermally treated — a process which deepens the wood’s colour to an alluring dark brown — you have a very interesting, knot-free tropical timber on your hands.
Internal wall slats: design ideas, considerations & inspiration
Given the inherent beauty of wood and the clean, linear design, slats are exceptionally architecturally versatile. They are popularly used to create a feature wall, accenting key areas in a room, such as a fireplace, seating or plant arrangements. If you’re framing a TV or media area, slats can even be used to hide cables and streamline the wall.
Do you have an interior design style in mind? Paler woods like maple, oak, fir and cedar can be used to create a contemporary, Japandi or Nordic-inspired space, with darker woods like walnut and Thermo-Ayous adding grandeur, elegance and atmosphere.
You might want to match your slats with other wooden elements in your design scheme (perhaps with your flooring or other furniture), or contrast them with your wall colours allowing the slats to ‘pop’. Use them to define your space without dominating it; too much texture or colour can be overwhelming. Sparing use is key.
Pay attention to those wood elements in your space which you would want to retain when designing — sofas, coffee tables, flooring, TV stands. Matching these with your slats, even if just closely, can make a room seem really well put together and cohesive.
If you have darker coloured walls, maple or oak can add an elegant contrast; similarly, walnut or Thermo-Ayous can complement white walls to create a magnificent feature. A slatted wall can bring character, warmth and a textural element to a room of ‘cold’ colours.
Slatted panelling in a bedroom, perhaps behind the bed, can bring an uplifting warmth to the room — somewhere you’d love to wake up every morning.
As you’ll probably have gathered from reading so far, wood slats can be used almost anywhere! They really are exceptionally versatile, able to be applied as a focal point or intriguing backdrop.
They aren’t reserved just for the go-large architectural finishes, either. They can be at home in almost any area of the house — whether in your bathroom or as a flourish in your home office. One creative, practical and visually appealing idea is to use slatted panels on your staircase.
Another interesting design trend is to use wooden slats to camouflage your doors. Blending in cloak rooms or spare toilets provides a decorative, contemporary finish. The same principle can apply to integrated appliances in your kitchen; you can make it seem as if your fridge isn’t even there, creating a seamless path for the eyes to travel across.
Depending on the shape of your space, these slats can also be used to divide your room, creating small little areas of privacy without making your room seem any smaller. Using these as slatted screens can be a stylish alternative to a solid wall, making the space flowing easily, with the shadow silhouettes from the sun or lighting providing a nice aesthetic touch throughout the day.
Slats can help you to make an architectural statement on any type of building, including commercial properties. Redcar Leisure and Community Heart boasts Western Red Cedar interior panelling of different widths.
The most popular orientation for internal slats is undoubtedly the more contemporary vertical style from floor to ceiling, which has the added benefit of adding the illusion of height. Horizontal slats evoke a more traditional feel, but can still work fantastically. A panelled feature wall is a timeless thing, so you can be sure it’ll look smart for years to come.
If you’re seeking wood slats in a certain block colour to match your scheme, then they can be painted, but we always think it’s best to let wood’s natural beauty shine through. That said, black slats are a great solution if you’re looking to introduce a darker wall to your space without it seeming too devoid of character, which is a big risk when painting.
So, to sum up some of our top tips when designing an interior with wood slat panelling…
- Use it to accent certain spaces without overdoing things
- Consider matching with other wooden elements in the room
- Contrast your slats with other wall colours; simple is superb
- Don’t feel restricted to certain areas of the home
- Get creative and use slats to camouflage doors or appliances
- Consider using them as slatted screens to ‘zone’ larger spaces or for staircases
Ready to start putting together your dream interior?
At Duffield Timber, we’re a leading UK importer, machinist and supplier of quality internal solid timber wall slats (as well as external timber cladding, decking and fencing!).
We source the finest, most beautiful, sustainable and durable timber species from across the world and machine them right here on site in North Yorkshire.
February 2023: Our online catalogue of wood wall slats is coming soon, but we still have stock available. Click the ‘get in touch’ button below and your project handler will be back in touch as soon as possible.
You can also reach us through our contact page, by emailing email@example.com or by phoning 01765 640 564.