Learn about your options for disguising ugly wood paneling. Get tips on how to cover it with wallpaper or drywall. Also find out why you should try just painting it first before you explore more expensive and time-consuming options.
LESLIE: Now some people love the look of wood paneling  and some people simply don’t like it. John in Batesville, Missouri has a question whether he wants to cover it, uncover it, or make it more attractive.
How are you, John?
LESLIE: So tell me, what do you want to do with this paneling?
JOHN: Our house is 30 years old and the den is paneled in an antique birch.
LESLIE: And so you’re not liking it; you want to change it.
LESLIE: Well, depending on how it’s applied, you can either remove the paneling  or you can cover over it. And covering over it tends to be a little bit more difficult because if you were to put a wallpaper directly over it, you’re still going to see the beads or the seams or the paneling themselves.
LESLIE: I’ve heard that you can fill in the beads with joint compound or wood filler and then put underlayment paper for wallpaper and then wallpaper but that’s a ton of work. Sometimes if you like the look of striping, you can paint that paneling  and use the stripe that’s already there to accentuate this feature.
JOHN: No, we don’t want to do that.
LESLIE: You don’t want to do that.
Tom, what are you thinking?
TOM: If you want a smooth wall finish, what you’re going to have to do is skin that with some drywall. Now you don’t have to use 1/2-inch-thick standard drywall; you can use 1/4-inch drywall …
TOM: … and go right on top of that and spackle the joints and have a wallboard surface. That’s the only way you’re going to do it.
LESLIE: And your room will now be 1/2-inch smaller in both directions. (chuckles)
TOM: Right. Can you spare that 1/2-inch?
JOHN: (chuckles) We can spare the 1/2-inch.
TOM: You want it to be white and clean-looking when you’re done?
TOM: I would suggest that you invest in the cost of a gallon of paint and paint that paneling, maybe one wall of it, and see how you like it. That’s all – that’s your total investment; just a little bit of paint. Because you might find that it doesn’t look half bad once it’s painted. And think about all the trouble you saved yourself from not doing the other things which are a lot more work, like covering the paneling with drywall or things of that nature or taking the paneling down.
I had some wood wainscoting in my kitchen that would seem to be like a real good idea in 1972 when it went up. And I didn’t think it looked so good today, so we just left it up. Now this was solid paneling – 1x6 tongue-in-groove beadboard – but we painted it and it looks great; knots and all, you can see right through it. But it looks fabulous. I would definitely invest in some paint for that paneling because it’s so well-installed now, it was so intricately-installed to begin with, that that’s going to be the easiest, most inexpensive solution to make this room look a whole lot better.
TOM: And if that doesn’t work out, then you can always go to the next step, which is to think about taking the paneling apart or going on top of it. But if you do that, you’ve got a lot of work to be done because you’ve got to finish the drywall corners or replace the molding.
TOM: Alright, John? Thanks for calling. Thanks for listening to us on WJGR.