Find out how to paint over wall paneling. Get tips on using a good quality, oil based primer so the paint adheres well. However, if there are gaps between the panels, your best bet is to cover the walls with 3/8 drywall and spackle the joints.
LESLIE: Karen in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. What project can we help you with?
KAREN: Well, back in the mid-90s they made a wallboard paneling  that was decorative. It kind of had like a vinyl finish with – you know, sometimes it was embossed.
KAREN: And my question is – you know, I’m tired of it now. And can I paint over that or would it be better to put like a sheetrock over it?
TOM: Well, I mean you can paint it. You need to prime it. If you’re going to paint it, you have to prime it. And so I would use a very good-quality primer  first – an oil-based primer – so that you get good adhesion of the top surface of the paint. The finish, on the other hand, is not going to be the same as if it was a wall but it might be acceptable. So it could be an easy, inexpensive way to get a new look for that particular room.
KAREN: And also, the joints don’t butt up very close and so there’s a gap. And what they did was they would put a taping, basically over that – a decorative taping – but that pulls away. So how would I cover that up? Would I use a putty or a caulk of some sort?
TOM: Well, no. You know, I’ve got to tell you, if the walls are in that kind of condition, you may just be better off covering the whole thing with drywall. You don’t need to use 1/2-inch drywall; you could use 3/8.
KAREN: Well, I was thinking about 1/4-inch. I mean would that – I mean because there’s solid wood wall behind that. It’s an old, old house.
TOM: Right. Yeah, I mean you could do that, too. The reason I say 3/8, because it becomes a little – it’s a little hard to handle those 1/4-inch sheets. They’re awfully floppy.
KAREN: OK. OK.
TOM: But you certainly could put that up and then tape and spackle the joints and then you’ll have a really clean, obviously new surface.
KAREN: OK, OK. Alright. Alright, well thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.