Hanging Architectural Panels with Z-Clips

Advice on hanging large wood wall panels with no fasteners showing. February 23, 2010

I have been in the cabinet business about 30 years as a one man shop. I did mostly commercial until about six years ago. I met an architect doing contemporary houses and Iíve been busy ever since.

Iím doing a four sided room that houses a powder bath, coat closet, storage and media center. The entire outside is in vertical grain walnut panels approximately 24" wide x 108" high. It is 4" base and 3" ceiling trim with the grain match to carry all the way through.

I know I need to use z clips but can someone give me a quick start guide on the best way? I have never hung panels with clips. Also how do you handle the 1/8 x 1/8 reveal at each panel? I've got a sliding panel saw and an edge bander but is the reveal just a separate piece that is planted on? Most of the work I've done for him has been rift white oak in vertical and horizontal applications with an oil finish. We would just cut a saw kerf for the reveals and the oil would darken the MDF to make a nice looking reveal and what about the quirk miter at the corners?

Also the doors into the closet and the bath will have the same grain mach and need to be flush with the wall panels. Any ideas? Soss hinges are not an option since there is no adjustment. Any help would be surely appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor U:
I only have advice for how to handle the reveal, hope this helps. Because of your match requirements I'm going to assume that you are veneering the panels yourself. If that is the case, edge your panels with 6mm solid before you veneer them, then saw kerf them after pressing. If you aren't veneering them yourself then I guess you are stuck with a plant-on. Hope this helps and best of luck!

From contributor F:
Be aware that an 1/8" reveal is very difficult to maintain over a large area and lots of panels. Also z clips need either 3/8" or 5/8" to lift off depending on the thickness of the clip.

From contributor J :
Yeah, 1/8" reveals are going to make you want to put your head through one of those panels! I worked on a job with 1/4" reveals and that was hard enough. There were no clips used, the panels were just liquid nailed to the walls. The reveals were handled by splining all the edges, say a 1/4 x 3/4" spline with 1/4 x 1/4 slots in the edges of the panels. It worked well but was still a huge PITA.

From contributor L:
Instead of using the "Z"-Clips could you use a French cleat? Itís the same idea as a Z-clip but you don't have to do a lot of adjusting as you would with the Z-clips. Also an idea would be to use your Soss hinges and have an applied panel for your door and have the Z-clips on the door recessed 1/8th inch. Does the door fit flush with the wall panels?

From contributor V:
I've done this a few times. How much room behind the panel do you have? I have usually mounted the Z-clips on a decent 9ply .5" ply rips screwed to the wall. Make a story stick for the vertical plane and then shoot a datum line around the room. Find your highs and lows and decide where the datum line fits on your story pole-mark it. Use the story pole and level, align with datum line, and mark your four walls at several locations then snap out chalk lines. Find your studs and attach your ledgers. Then plumb the ledger strips to each other. If you make the Z-clips wider on the wall than the panel you have horizontal adjustment. For a panel that tall I would use at least three ledger strips, maybe four. If all this thickness becomes an issue you can let the clips into the panel remember to relieve for mounting and un-mounting. I've done it this way 3-4 times and the layout and ledger setting is time consuming but get that right and the panels line up perfectly.