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Tips for Painting Paneling

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Bob in Rhode Island, welcome to The Money Pit. What’s going on at your house?

    BOB: Leslie, I got a problem – well, I got some beautiful paneling and it kind of makes the room kind of dark and somebody said you can paint it and it comes out really good and I’m hesitant to do that because it’s really beautiful birch paneling. But it’s an apartment and I’m thinking that some people don’t like paneling on the wall.

    LESLIE: Now are you the renter or the rentee?

    BOB: Rentee.

    LESLIE: OK, so you’re allowed to paint and do whatever the heck you want there.

    BOB: Correct.

    LESLIE: You know, I agree. It can paint up very well but once you paint it it’s a pain in the butt to go back to the stained surface.

    BOB: Correct.

    LESLIE: So it’s really up to you to see if you want to commit to this paint job (Bob laughs) and, you know, it will brighten the space. Keep in mind a coat of paint is not going to make the linear features of the paneling go away …

    BOB: Right.

    LESLIE: … but you can really make it work and if it’s painted white it can even almost look like beadboard and be quite nice and open and country.

    BOB: Even with those – you’re going to see the seams. You’re going to see those …

    TOM: Sure. Yeah. Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, yeah. You’re totally going to see the seams but you have to commit to that aesthetic. You have to say, “Alright, I want this to look good.” If you’re going to do that you want to prime and then you want to paint. If you’re more open to, you know, spending a little bit more time or effort, you could go ahead and either try to remove that paneling or drywall over it and just get a fresh wall surface.

    TOM: The one thing you have to look out for, Bob, is when you try to remove it, is to determine first if it’s been glued on. If it’s been glued on it becomes a nightmarish job to remove it and nothing that you’re going to do is going to save that drywall underneath. So if you try to pull it off, it’s been glued on, it will take the paper off the drywall face underneath and you’ll end up having to put a second layer of drywall on anyway. So you could try to loosen it up in a corner and see how easy it might pop off. If it was put on with paneling nails, which are sort of ring nails …

    BOB: Right.

    TOM: … maybe you ought to be able to get it off and just patch it a bit and be good to go.

    BOB: If, in fact, it’s on drywall and not on the old lattice with plaster.

    LESLIE: Oh, true.

    TOM: How old is the house?

    BOB: Oh, the house is 100 years old.

    TOM: Oh, well then yeah, you never know. It could, in fact, be on plaster. So you’re right. You know, I think you should paint it to start with, Bob, and see how you like it. I mean it’s certainly an easy job to be done in a very short period of time and you can always go to removing it as a second step.

    BOB: OK, now do you paint it with a latex primer or do you have to use oil-based?

    TOM: Well actually, you could use a – probably an oil-based primer is good but another one you could use is the KILZ alcohol-based primer which has a water cleanup but it sticks like the …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and it dries really quickly.

    TOM: It dries really fast and it sticks like the dickens to any kind of surface.

    BOB: Oh, wow. OK.

    TOM: Alright?

    BOB: Great. Thank you very much. I love your show.

    TOM: Oh, thank you very much. Very kind. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 

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