Paneling comes in many forms, from solid wood strips to inexpensive laminate, a popular alternative for budget decorating. Whether you're lining a room with paneling or hanging it outdoors as an exterior wall covering, it matters what type of nails you use. Opt for the wrong sort of nail, and you'll have unsightly nail heads sticking out from between the panels.

Nail Classification

Identifying the right nail for paneling work is fairly easy, as most manufacturers and hardware stores simply list them as "panel nails," "paneling nails" or "panel pins." One advantage of using paneling nails is that they come in various colors, making them practically invisible against the panels. Alternately, you may use casing nails, which are typically used for trim, cabinetry and other forms of delicate carpentry work. Finish nails also work well for paneling. They have a rounded head, making it possible to drive them fully into the paneling, leaving no evidence of a screw head.

Different Techniques for Different Nails

Which nail you should select for your job largely depends on how you go about affixing your paneling to the wall. For example, if you are working with tongue-and-groove paneling that aligns with the studs in your wall, you can nail each panel into the wall right above the tongue. Drive the nails in at a slight angle to avoid splitting off the panel's tongue. For this approach, the nail head is covered, making it possible to use a greater variety of nail types. However, you will need a nail that's sufficiently long to pass all the way through the panel and into the wall at an angle. The nail head also cannot be so large as to interfere with the interlocking of the tongue and groove.

Sizing and Coloring

Dimensions vary within any given type of nail. For example, a panel nail may measure anywhere from 1 inch to 1 5/8 inches. Colors of panel nails include beige, white and various hues of brown. Typically, colors are named after types of wood, to complement either solid or laminate wood panels.

Covering Nail Heads

Regardless of the type of nail you use, if you drive the nails directly through the panels, you'll most likely need to make some effort to cover up the nail heads. If you use a finish nail, first drive it in so that the nail head is slightly higher than the surface of the panel. Next use a nail set to sink the nail just below the surface. Apply wood putty or wood filler into the tiny hole left by the nail. After the putty has completely set, sand it down so that it is level with the paneling.