2

We recently had an issue with wall paneling warping after installation on our wall. We live in Anaheim, California which isn't super humid and were wondering what may have caused this. The panels were shipped from Houston directly to us and sat in our home until the contractor was able to install them about a week later. During that time, we opened the boxes to see what they looked like and they were absolutely stunning! We used regular solid nails (not screws) and adhesive glue to mount them on the wall. Shortly after, the panels began to warp and detach from the wall even the nails. Could this be due to the climate change or the type of glue that was used? We are puzzled at this point and not sure what to do. The panels are solid wood 24"x24"x0.71" in size and advertised as being easily mounted on the wall using glue or nails. The puzzling part is why did they warp when mounted on the wall after having being opened for a week prior? Could there be moisture in our wall?

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

5
  • Having the panels acclimate (perhaps only partially unwrapped) for only a week might be the culprit. It seems like it would be enough, but Houston is significantly more humid than Anaheim, It's hard to say without knowing more details about the kind of wood, finish, mounting, etc.
    – gnicko
    Apr 6, 2023 at 0:55
  • The wood type is solid olive wood and finished with lacquer. They were glue and nailed into the wall. I believe the contractor did not use long enough nails it seems like?
    – Allison
    Apr 6, 2023 at 2:51
  • Hi, welcome to StackExchange. There are a number of factors that worked together to make this happen, some of which you had no control over and some you could have taken steps to avoid (and a knowledgeable contractor would have advised on). "Could this be due to the climate change..." 100% yes. "...or the type of glue that was used?" This may be a factor also, but honestly I doubt it. I note that in the side shot showing the panel peeling off the wall plenty of nails but very little evidence of glue! However you do need to tell us the glue that was used (not just brand, the exact type)
    – Graphus
    Apr 6, 2023 at 2:59
  • "The puzzling part is why did they warp when mounted on the wall after having being opened for a week prior?" This isn't puzzling at all, as A) that's not nearly enough time to acclimate wood to a new environment that is very different from where it was prior. And B) just opening the packaging isn't enough – again something a knowledgeable contractor would have advised on, or done themselves. The Answer I'm working on will cover this is more detail, but if you want to get a preview just Google "solid wood floorboards acclimation" and you'll see.
    – Graphus
    Apr 6, 2023 at 3:12
  • Kind of late to the party with this thought but it's likely that the panels would have warped regardless of anything you did or didn't do. 2-foot square panels are likely to behave differently from single floorboards and moving them from where they were originally manufactured and wrapped (likely overseas) might have been enough if the wood wasn't properly dried and acclimated at the beginning of the process. The panels were just waiting for an opportunity to warp as soon as the packaging was opened. Have you contacted the manufacturer about this? That would be the best course of action.
    – gnicko
    Apr 13, 2023 at 19:56

3 Answers 3

1

Hi woodworker and architect here.

Part of the problem here is, as the other answers suggested, differential drying. The bigger part of the problem is the cause of the differential drying is not easily apparent.

Something I suspect is part of the problem is the panels are installed flush to the wall. As far as I can tell, the panels are uniformly cupped (curving in concavely). This indicates the textured portion is shrunken in (drier) and the back is larger (less dry). This suggests to me the textured fronts of the panels are drying more quickly than the backs because whatever lacquer (this is a generic terms often used to describe a wide range of chemicals) was used is vapor permeable.

To your question of why, it could be: the lacquer was damaged in transit or during install, improperly applied at the shop, applied correctly but from a bad batch, the holes from the nails might even be doing it, it might have been inevitable because edge jointed panels with no substrate or stabilization are exceedingly fussy... Troubleshooting an organic product like wood is as much art as science.

Changes in weather from day to day in Anaheim could explain this if the coating has failed. It could also be due to differential thermal expansion caused by exposure to direct sunlight.

I didn't see in your OP any ask for a solution but I will offer them nonetheless. I will also preface this by saying, as have others, some cupping was probably inevitable given the design of this product, the short acclimation period, and the suggested means of installation.

This may be salvageable by controlling direct light enter the room using blinds and humidity using a dehumidifier for 4-6 weeks. If you get lucky, keeping the climate well controlled will allow the panels to acclimate evenly and hopefully relax.

Failing this, the panels might need to be removed and installed with a 1" furring strip. This will leave an air gap large enough for a convection current to form and allow the backs of the panels to breathe. A major issue I see here is the backs of the panels are flush to the wall and not exchanging moisture.

In the meantime, I suggest looking up cabinet or millwork shops in your area and try to get their eyes on it because with finished woodworking nothing beats a once over from someone who really knows their stuff who can get up close. One, because our ability to troubleshoot is limited by being digital, and two, it is more than likely you will need someone pretty handy to fix this installation.

Best of luck to you.

0

Warping in a panel can happen because the stresses within the material on each side of the panel are not balanced.

Your panels are all decoratively channeled on one face. I see all the pictures of warping panels have the warp bending toward the channeled face, so I'd be willing to wager that the back face of the panels going against the wall are flat and uncut.

If you take the panels off the wall and make shallow cuts on the flat back of the panels using a table saw both directions, so the back of the panel looks like a checker board, the higher stress on the back will dissipate and the panels will flatten back down.

Try cuts 1/8 of the thickness of the panel, then 1/4, then 3/8, etc until the warp is gone.

Style point, be sure to not run the relief cuts completely through the side of the panels that will be visible at the ends of the wall decoration, so you don't see the relief cuts after installation.

(At my old job at a cabinet shop, we had a similar problem where we were CNC-carving Azek panels, and the panels were warping themselves off the CNC vacuum bed because of the unbalanced stresses. A criss-cross relief cut on the back before the carving cut on the front fixed the warping.)

1
  • I'm 100% certain this is a differential drying issue, It's the same thing that happens to a recently planed board left for some hours or overnight on the bench, just magnified. Couple this with the greatly increased surface area and some cupping was a virtual certainty.
    – Graphus
    Apr 16, 2023 at 17:49
0

This question just caught my attention. In the closeup image the nails are visible and they are just long enough to penetrate the gypsum panels and would have little opportunity to embed with any wood framing if they were exactly secured at studs. Neither gypsum board nor plaster are going to be able to hold onto a brad type nail. I also see some glue, but not enough to resist the warping force. As others have suggested, there will be a lot of unbalanced tension at each face and warping of solid wood panels is probably inevitable. The product would resist warping much better if it were a ribbed veneer on a plywood substrate.

I am not certain if you can return the panels to a flat profile without damaging them. It may not be possible to construct a secondary wood frame 1 1/2" thick that is glued (and screwed?) to the back face thick enough to resist any future warping. If the panels can be flattened, I would extend this frame beyond the top and one side edge so that it can be screwed to the wall and recessed at the bottom and other side to make room for the screwed edge of frames.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.