Outside Corner Details for Commercial Wall Panels

Tips on turning the corner with wall paneling in a public space. December 20, 2005

Our shop is getting many calls for fabricating and hanging wall panels for our commercial jobs. To date, we have done mostly straight lines of panels with an inside turn. We are currently bidding a job that calls for panels to hang on Z-clips and turn an outside corner. With inside corners, we can butt the panels together. We are concerned that if we have to miter the corners and hang on Z-clips, it could be an installation nightmare. Any thoughts on how we can do this?

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor A:
I would pre-assemble and glue the outside corner pieces in the shop and install as a unit.

From contributor B:
You could incorporate some sort of corner molding into the design. It will make installing a breeze. It will look good and will also be big enough to compensate for out of level/square corners.

From contributor C:
The details depend on the type of space, the traffic and what the architect recommends. The WI and AWI both have sample details. I don't think we have used an overlay trim piece at an outside corner on wall paneling in 20+ years. There are corners the can be offset with a quirk that allow for contraction and expansion, you can lay one panel past the other and create a reveal, or you can miter corners. You need to follow the design intent. If you are in a competitive bid then you need to qualify how you will do your details or send out an RFC.

When you miter corners, if you have the panel manufacturer embed a sold piece of wood they are pretty easy to field fit or shop join if you have a template of the angle. An open corner or reveal at an outside corner in a high traffic area can be a problem where briefcases, purses and carts may catch the open joint and damage the panels. Each job must be evaluated by the design requirements. Depending on the building type and construction you may need fire rated cores and/or fire rated blocking. Some fire codes do not allow wall paneling to go past 1-3/4" to the face of the panel.

From contributor D:
We do miles of this stuff, mostly 3/4" plywood frames w/ 1/4" ply panels (or hardwood raised panels, inserted from the front) and a pretty overlapping panel molding. Pocket screw the frames, often prefinished and assembled on site. Pin in the panels. Put a chair rail or cap on top and base on bottom. We often miter fold the outside corners, though high traffic areas get a hardwood corner. I believe outside corner molding is for rookies.