Insulation Under Wall Paneling
LESLIE: Alright, Wendy from Washington wants to talk about paneling and insulation.
Wendy, how can we help?
WENDY: I live in a house which is just a little over 30 years old.
WENDY: And recently the house, I believe, had – oh dear, what’s it called? The white – plasterboard. And I have been told there’s paneling behind that. Then there was – I mean there’s insulation behind that. Then paneling was put on top of it and I’m told that there is insulation in between the plasterboard and the paneling.
TOM: That would be unusual.
WENDY: Oh. (Leslie chuckles) OK.
TOM: Yeah, that’d be very unusual. Typically, they would put paneling right on top of the wallboard, Wendy.
TOM: So what’s your question?
WENDY: My question is, is there – I don’t like the paneling; I want to get rid of it. Is there any reason to keep it for insulation purposes?
TOM: Absolutely none.
LESLIE: And most people do not like that paneling.
TOM: Was that like a husband/wife dispute? Like is your husband like going, “But Honey, it gives us insulation”? (Wendy and Tom laugh)
WENDY: I think it was the other way around. (Wendy and Leslie laugh)
TOM: Oh, it was the other way around? (Tom laughs)
WENDY: Yeah, it wasn’t – I wasn’t the one who put it up. (Tom and Leslie laugh) But I think that’s what happened with the previous owner.
TOM: Well, no. You see, to insulate you have to be able to have trapped air and paneling has no trapped air or an infinitesimal amount. So that does not contribute towards the insulating ability of the wall. It has almost no r value. So go ahead and take it off. But the bigger challenge is going to be hopefully that it will come off easily because sometimes installers will glue that to the wall and that makes a big, stinking mess trying to pull that off because you end up pulling off pieces of the wall with it.
WENDY: I am so glad that you said that because the person who installed it is still around, or at least was last week, and I will be sure that I find out before I can’t find out.
LESLIE: Yeah. If it’s tacked up, you’re in great shape. You’ll be able to just pull it right off. But if you can’t get a hold of that person, try to find like an inconspicuous area where you can just sort of pry at a seam and see what happens.
WENDY: Oh, and take a look and see how it’s done?
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
TOM: Yeah, there are paneling nails that are like ring nails – they have ridges in them – and most of the time that’s what’s used. But if somebody put glue behind it, it makes it really hard. And then you’ll probably …
LESLIE: And they usually use a lot of glue.
TOM: Yeah, a lot of it. Then what you’re going to do is end up pulling it off anyway but you may have to reface all those walls and, if that’s the case, I would put up new drywall but use very thin drywall, like 1/4-inch.
WENDY: Oh, OK.
WENDY: Great. And there’s no – and you see no reason to keep the paneling?
TOM: None. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Not if you don’t like it.
TOM: Yeah, not unless you want to have a room that you can stand in with your bell-bottom jeans (Leslie chuckles) and that shaggy vest and the …
WENDY: (laughing) That’s the era from which it came. (Tom chuckles)
LESLIE: “This is our 70s room. You must put on the proper costume to come in here.” (Wendy laughs)
TOM: Right, right. “You can’t come in yet. I have to put on my disco light.” (Tom laughs)
LESLIE: “Wait, where’s my afro wig? Come on in.”
WENDY: Oh, perfect. Thank you so much.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.