Warped Paneling Problems: The Causes & Solutions

By:    |   Published May 28, 2019
Warped paneling due to moisture damage

To some, wood paneling is synonymous with orange shag carpet and avocado-colored appliances of the 1950s through 1970s. But paneling is making a comeback for many reasons. Paneling is a way to bring the beauty of the outdoors inside. A rustic look can be achieved with reclaimed – or reclaimed looking – paneling.  Wainscoting has become a popular decorating choice as well as running panels horizontally to give a room character. Many times, paneling is white-washed or painted a neutral color such as gray. Wood paneling is more durable than drywall or wallpaper and can even protect your walls.

Something to keep in mind with paneling: moisture warps wood. So where there is moisture, wood will expand and, if there is too little humidity, wood will contract. Keeping moisture and humidity from fluctuating and causing warped paneling is a challenge.

When you notice warped paneling, it is too late to control the temperature and humidity to prevent your paneling from warping, but there are steps you can take to repair warped paneling and prevent future issues.

Causes of Warped Paneling

High Humidity

Many basements are finished with wood paneling to give a cozy, bright or rustic feeling to an area that may have little or no natural light. However, one of the most common places warped paneling occurs is in the basement. This is due to the fact that humidity is a common problem in basements. Wood naturally absorbs the moisture in the air and expands, which causes warping or buckling.  Additionally, high humidity levels can lead to other issues like mold.  Any moisture trapped under paneling can increase the risk of warped paneling or hidden mold growth.

Density of the Wood

Dense wood is a sturdier choice, but the downside is that it is more likely to warp than lighter wood paneling with thin cores. Since heavy wood panels are the most likely to become warped, when you are installing new wood paneling, lightweight woods make better choices – especially in basements. If your home already has wood paneling installed and you know it has a dense core, watch for signs of moisture-related warping.

Construction Defects

The effects of poor construction can affect any home. Signs of warped paneling are likely to show if the paneling isn’t secured properly. Glue is typically used to install wood paneling and nails hold it in place. Nail spacing is important and if the nails are too far apart, warping can result. Similarly, inadequate gluing procedures can also lead to warped paneling.

Solutions to Warped Paneling

Reset the Paneling

If you have a portion of warped paneling, or some of your wood paneling has buckled, you can try to fix it. The success you have will be the result of the extent of the buckling and your construction skills. Just remember that no matter your skill level, it won’t always work.

If there is minimal buckling, you may be able to drive a few nails into the groove where it’s warped. If the nails prove to be enough to hold the paneling flat, you can use wood putty to fill any nail holes.

 For more extensive buckling, you’ll need to remove the paneling and nails without damaging it and reset the existing panels. You can then re-glue the warped paneling. You may also try to shave a small strip of one side of the paneling to give it more room to expand with moisture and temperature fluctuations in the future.

Replace the Warped Paneling

In some cases it’s better to simply replace warped paneling rather than attempt extensive repair work. Replacing the paneling can also give you an opportunity to identify potential sources of moisture in the wall. If you notice any signs of leaking in the walls or windows, you absolutely need to deal with that first. Water damage is almost always priority number one! Hiding a leak behind paneling will not make it go away. Consider using a new type of paneling that creates a vapor barrier to help waterproof your basement: DuraShield.

How to Avoid Warped Paneling

If you’ve repaired your paneling, or want to avoid issues with your existing paneling, there are some ways to prevent warping or buckling.

Basement Waterproofing

Remember, high humidity or wet conditions will cause warped paneling. Preventing moisture from reaching your interior in the first place is the best way to prevent any type of warped paneling or other water damage. The best way to waterproof your home depends on several factors. EverDry can perform a 20-point free inspection on your home!

Basement waterproofing is a great way to protect more than just your walls. It can protect your foundation, keeping your home safe, too.

Reduce Humidity

If there are no leaks in your basement and it is determined that humidity is the source of your warped paneling, you still need to take action. You may not see or feel the actual water, but if there is buckling or warping, there is moisture and you need to reduce it

A dehumidifier is a relatively inexpensive machine that gives you control over the humidity levels in your basement. Even simpler is the E-Z Breathe® system. It protects your home from moisture and improves air quality through your whole home.

When the temperature and humidity in your basement are kept at ideal levels with minimal fluctuation, you will have more time to enjoy your basement and the ambiance your paneling provides and no longer stress over warped paneling issues! 


Schedule Your FREE Annual Foundation Inspection

The best way to keep your basement dry is with professional waterproofing. EverDry Toledo can help with a FREE 20-point basement inspection! We’ll help you find out if your home is at risk for water damage and which solutions will best serve you.

Contact us online to schedule an appointment or give us a call at (419) 469-5833 and schedule your inspection today!

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