LESLIE: I would hate to be the guy who invented paneling as a decorative element because so many people have it and so many people don’t want it anymore.
Mike in Tennessee is one of those folks. How are you, Mike? Tell us about this paneling.
MIKE: Well, we’ve got a 60s-era home. Every room in the house is paneled. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
TOM: Seemed like a good idea 40 years ago. (chuckles)
MIKE: It’s time to do something about that and the question is some of this paneling is in two pieces. They put a chair rail up – four foot, believe it or not – so they could use half-sheets of paneling top and bottom. (Leslie chuckles)
MIKE: So that’s weird to begin with. But the upper half is that decorator paneling on the upper half.
TOM: It’s like paneling with wallpaper attached to it.
MIKE: Is it practical to put 1/4-inch drywall over this stuff?
TOM: It’s completely practical. But before you put the drywall on, what I would recommend is to try to figure out how hard it might be to pull it down and what’s behind it. If it’s not glued on the wall, if it’s just nailed on the wall, then it might be worthwhile simply taking it down, evaluating the drywall that’s behind it, spackling in the nail holes, fixing up the seams and then just painting from right there. If it is glued on, it is definitely a permanent part of the wall; can’t be taken off …
LESLIE: It’s part of the history once you get into it.
TOM: Exactly. Then you could put drywall on top of that and skin that. That has its own complications, though, in the sense that now you’ve got to pack out the door frames because the jambs are not going to line up.
MIKE: The paneling is put right on the studs.
MIKE: I’ve never seen anything like this before.
TOM: Well then you should put wallboard up for the first time. You know? (chuckles)
LESLIE: I mean any other type of fix that we would tell you to just make an aesthetic change to the paneling would only be effective in one, small space. I’m not going to recommend that you paint over it or fill in the lines and put wallpaper over it because that’s really not a whole-house solution; especially when it’s everywhere. If you can get drywall and have a fresh start, you’ll be so happy plus you’ll have increased the home’s value by a tremendous amount.
MIKE: Well that sounds like what we were thinking. The big problem we’ve got in the one room is we’ve got these columns on the – sort of beams on the ceilings and of course they go around with a 4-inch-wide board all the way around the top.
MIKE: And there’s no way I can take that down because that column goes into there. So I guess what I’ll have to do is just cut that off somehow, close as I can to that trim around there, and then butt the drywall up against that.
TOM: And get close and spackle the rest of the way. (Tom chuckles) OK?
MIKE: (chuckling) I was afraid that’s what you were going to say. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: That’s the way to do it. You know, if you get close, then you can flat-tape. You basically put the tape where part of it’s stuck on the drywall and part of it’s kind of in midair and that kind of helps to bridge the gap and you spackle around that. It should do a good job.
Alright, Mike. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.