What is Wall Veneer?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Wall veneer is a thin, ornamental coating that is applied to an interior or exterior wall. The purpose of the veneer is to create the illusion of a wall that is composed of specific elements even though the actual wall is made with other materials. While the main function of any wall veneer is as a decorative accent, some types are practical in their design and construction.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

One of the more common examples of wall veneer used in the home is hardwood veneer. The veneer panels themselves are generally thin sections of an expensive wood, such as oak. The panels are applied to the surface of a wall that is composed of less expensive materials, such as sheet rock. As with all veneers, the thin panels are adhered to the surface of the wall using a durable glue that established a permanent bond between the oak veneer and the sheet rock. Once in place, it is almost impossible to tell the difference between oak veneer and solid oak paneling.

Along with wood veneer panels, many people find that stone veneers are very attractive in many settings. A wall veneer of this type is often different from a wood veneer, in that the surface is not smooth to the touch. The rougher texture helps to enhance the illusion of a wall made from stones and set in concrete. As with any wall veneer, the stone version adheres to the underlying wall with the use of strong adhesives.

A brick wall veneer may be used in the home or in the workplace. Sometimes employed to dress up an accent wall, veneer siding of this type also sports a textured surface that mimics the construction of a standard brick wall.

A laminate veneer may also be used in some room designs. The laminate provides the benefit of being extremely easy to clean, since it is treated to resist staining from dirt and grease. This option is not unusual for hallways, kitchens, and other high traffic areas. The laminate may have the appearance of everything from marble to wood paneling of any shade.

Wall veneer can also be used on exterior walls. In particular, the stone and brick varieties can be applied to smooth exterior walls and create visual interest near an entrance to the home. Storefronts and other businesses may also use exterior veneer products to help their shops stand out from the surrounding stores. Since exterior veneers are usually treated to withstand a variety of weather conditions, the veneers can last for many years with nothing more than routine maintenance.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


I notice that a lot of larger buildings nowadays use huge sheets of brick or rock veneer instead of the old fashioned way of covering the building in real bricks.

In my neighborhood, the school just had a new gymnasium built. Instead of them building up the walls, the concrete walls just came delivered on big semi trailers, then a crane picked them up and put them into place. After that, they had more trucks come in with veneer wall sections that looked like rocks. After the whole thing was finished, you couldn't tell that the building had been delivered in pieces. The end result looked very good, and I'm sure it cost the school a lot less than the real thing.

Now that I think about it, the foundation area of my house looks like it is made of stones. I wonder if they are real or if it is just another kind of natural stone veneer.


@Izzy78 - Installing thin brick wall veneer is very easy. I have never done it inside, but I had a friend who was putting it on the outside of this business, so I can't imagine it being any different.

Basically, the bricks come in boxes, and you just start at the bottom of the wall and work your way up. One of the problems we had was keeping the right space between bricks. We had purchased some spacers, but they didn't really work well and kept falling out. What we finally found out was that you can just use some strips of plywood cut into the width of your grout line to keep the space open. Just make sure that you pull out the spacers once the compound holding the bricks has set enough to keep them in place.

If you are working inside, it probably won't be as much of a problem, but we were outside on a hot day and found that the compound dried about as fast as we put it on the wall, so we had to keep adding extra water.


@stl156 - Unless the installer has done a very poor job, I don't know of any way that you could ever tell whether a wall was veneer or not if it was wood. If it was stone, I am guessing you could find seams if you looked closely enough, but with the installation techniques now, that might even be difficult.

As far as using some type of tile veneer in the kitchen, I don't see why there wouldn't be something available along those lines. Like the article says, they make stuff that looks like stone and marble and everything else. I don't see why someone wouldn't have thought of tiles.

Has anyone here ever tried to install a brick veneer wall? I currently have a fireplace in the living room, and I think it would look good if there were an accent wall made of bricks. The problem is that bricks are expensive and would be too heavy for the wall, so I am thinking about the veneer. I am just curious how difficult it is.


I don't think I have really ever thought about using veneers outside of wood. I wasn't even aware that they made veneers that looks like brick and stone. Just from the outside, is there any way for sure to tell if something is made from veneer or the real thing?

I really like a lot of the laminate technologies that have come out over the past several years. I didn't know that they could be made for walls, though. I was just familiar with laminate flooring. We are thinking of redoing the kitchen in the next year or so, so I might consider the possibility of using some sort of laminate on the walls rather than just plain paint.

Do they make kitchen laminates that looks like backsplash tiles? That is a look that my wife really likes, but I don't feel comfortable installing it, and we are trying to cut down on cost by my brother and I doing all of the work. I had to install a small section of tile on the floor a couple of years ago, and that was enough trouble.

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