Find out how to cover wall paneling to give it a different look. Learn about your options, such as painting the paneling or covering it with 1/4-inch drywall.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lorraine in Arizona who needs some help with a paneling decorating project . Welcome, Lorraine.
LORRAINE: We have an older home that has two walls that has paneling on. And I was told that if we took the paneling off, it would probably damage the drywall. So I was considering maybe trying to put something over top of the paneling to give it a different look and wanted some suggestions.
LESLIE: Well, it depends. It depends on how it’s attached to whatever is behind it. There may not be any drywall behind it; it might just be the paneling attached directly to the studs, in which case you would have to put drywall up. It could be that the paneling was glued to the drywall. Then you would never get it off without completely destroying the drywall. Or it could be that it was just nailed on. You’re not really going to know until you sort of peer at a corner or an area where you can take off a little bit of trim work and see what exactly is going on before you make a decision. So that’s probably best step number one.
Now, if you find out that there’s really no removing it and your choices are to deal with the paneling and make it look better or cover over it with ¼-inch drywall, you can do that. It depends on how much work you want to do.
Painting paneling  certainly is an excellent option. I mean it creates a totally different look when you paint paneling a crisp, glossy white or an off-white or something that really just poses a good, neutral backdrop and just sort of go with it.
LORRAINE: OK. This is very light paneling anyway.
LESLIE: And are you at a point where you just want to see it be darker, different or gone?
LESLIE: You know, painting it really does look nice. It doesn’t have to be something that, in the end, you’re going to think, “Ooh, that doesn’t look good.” You just have to make sure that you clean it, you prime it well and then you give it a good top coat.
Now, I would really start by just taking off a piece of trimming  and door frame and seeing how it’s attached. And if you want to truly start with just a fresh look, you can absolutely cover over the entire space with ¼-inch drywall without losing too much space. You’re just going to have to sort of bump out your electrical boxes, your switches, your trim work, et cetera which, for a handy person, isn’t that big of a deal. So it could be a project you could do on your own. Or to hire somebody wouldn’t be that expensive.
LORRAINE: OK. Sounds good.
LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with that.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.