Our late-60s ranch came with a 10x20 wall of fabulous wood paneling. It's not the junk with grooves, but real-deal, full-slab wood paneling (painted).

Unfortunately, it warps a lot with typical changes in humidity. When we bought the place, the owner's son said something about it being installed wrong in the 60s, so it would 'breathe' and move throughout the year. One day a year, it's perfect; the rest, you can see it cup or warp out of level.

I suppose I can hire a guy with a nail gun to re-execute it in MDF, but we'd like to figure out what went wrong, and whether it can be fixed.

What trade has the expertise in paneling that can diagnose it? A cabinetmaker? Is there a kind of trim carpenter that specializes in paneling?

  • It's probably not so much the specific trade as the person's experience.
    – fixer1234
    Apr 18, 2018 at 6:06
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    Is solid wood paneling supposed to be painted (at least primed) on the back side before installation? This would even out the moisture content over time. Presumably the cause of the cupping is variation in moisture content (and a gradient in the wood itself) which is responsible for the cupping (distortion out of flat). Apr 18, 2018 at 11:46
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    Trim carpentry is a specialty. It's rare to see further compartmentalization of skills within that set. Modern cabinetmakers are more machine shop workers and less carpenters.
    – isherwood
    Apr 18, 2018 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


I would typically assign something like this to an interior trim carpenter, but it depends a lot on the quality of their work. In my experience I would avoid the painting company that also does trim. They are fine for baseboard and crown, but for this job I would want the interior trim carpenter that does built in entertainment center cabinets, wainscoting, and things like that.

Again, It depends a lot on the quality of their work.

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    Any company that says they do wainscoting and not painting, after you've reviewed their portfolio. +1. Finish carpenters are worth way too much money to waste time with that.
    – Mazura
    Apr 18, 2018 at 23:26

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