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Hate Wall Paneling? How to Remove, Cover or Paint

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Maria in Delaware on the line who needs help with a paneling/painting project.

    So you’ve got a new house and it’s got a lot of it, huh, Maria?

    MARIA: It sure does. About 25 years ago, the paneling was probably very popular but I’m really tired of looking at it. We painted the wall paneling in one room –  we sanded it a little bit, primed it and painted it. I’m OK with that but my husband is not because you can still see the grooves through the paint. So we were wondering if there was a way to take care of those grooves – maybe spackling it or whatever – but we didn’t want the spackling to later flake out or chip off and cause more problems than we already have. So, hopefully, you know of some way that we can do this without just taking all the paneling down.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Anything that you’re going to fill in is just going to come out, just like you think. So, really, the best thing is to either sheathe over it with a ½-inch drywall or take the paneling off and put drywall on.

    MARIA: OK. A ½-inch drywall. So, how would that affect the molding that we have? All of that would have to be replaced, as well, like around windows, everything?

    TOM: Yeah, you’d have to pull that off.

    The thing is, what you might want to try first, though, is just remove the wall paneling and seeing what’s underneath it. Because there might be a halfway decent wall underneath and if you’re lucky enough to find out that the paneling was not glued to those walls, then maybe you can just repair the wall, spackle the nail holes, fix any tear – torn areas – or any other damage and then just paint the walls again. Because that paneling was often nailed on with a very thin ring nail.

    MARIA: Yes, it was nailed on. I can see the nails in that.

    TOM: Yeah, it usually pulls off pretty easily. So I would – first thing I would do is pull that paneling off. Nothing you put over that paneling, in terms of – there’s no way to really fill it in, because I know what you’re asking us to do. But there’s no way to do that, because it’s going to crack and fall out and it’s going to look worse than it does now.

    So if you don’t like the painted look and you want to go back to just a clean wall, I would take the paneling down. Do it one wall at a time, one area at a time, until you get the hang of it. And this way, you can almost not do any molding work whatsoever because, generally, that stuff is cut around the molding or you can cut the paneling really tight to the molding and leave it there.

    MARIA: OK. Thank you both so much for your help.

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