Working With Painted Paneling
LESLIE: Now we have a call from Mark in Virginia who wants to make painted paneling presentable.
Mark, tell us about your paneling project.
MARK: We bought this house about five years ago. It was originally built in the mid-70s and a lot of the walls are paneling. Unfortunately, someone didn’t like the paneling look and they painted it, so now it’s a Brady Bunch house gone bad.
MARK: The paint really detracts from the overall beauty of what the wood must have been and some of the walls actually wound up with a layer of wallpaper on it. What we’d like to do is try to do something to update the house and bring it back to how pretty it must have been at one time.
TOM: Do you want to keep the paneling or do you want to remove that?
MARK: Downstairs in the den I think we’d like to keep it, but upstairs we’d be willing to get rid of it.
TOM: Leslie, you’ve probably run across a lot of painted paneling in your day. Any ideas on maybe some painting techniques that might make this look more presentable?
LESLIE: Well I hate to say it but a lot of the times we’re the ones painting the paneling. Because a lot of the times the paneling is applied directly to drywall.
LESLIE: You can’t get it off without removing that drywall itself so you’ve got to make good with what’s there. One option is to think about working a stripe in to make that paneling work for you. If you want to get back down to the wood, it depends on how much paint is there and it depends on what that paneling is originally made of.
TOM: And I’d be afraid to tell Mark to do that because who knows what kind of impact strippers and things like this are going to have on trying to remove that paint. The original finish on the paneling is probably not durable enough …
LESLIE: … to withstand that.
TOM: Yeah. So Mark, have you tried to remove any of the paneling? Because if you’re lucky, it won’t be glued to the drywall, which makes it pretty simple to take down.
MARK: I’m pretty sure it was tacked in place.
TOM: Well that’s not so bad, then, because you can actually pull that off pretty quickly and repair the drywall underneath. It’s when it’s glued to the drywall that it becomes a big, sticky mess.
MARK: I guess the next question is what if there’s no drywall underneath it?
TOM: Well then you have no drywall to worry about (Leslie chuckles), do you, and you can start from scratch and put some new wallboard up. It’s actually not such a terrible job to do. It’s really not that hard to do that.
MARK: How much would something like that go for?
TOM: Well if you attempt it on your own, I think it would fairly inexpensive; wouldn’t you, Leslie? The materials are not that expensive.
LESLIE: No. How much is a sheet of drywall?
TOM: What, 5 bucks to 6 bucks, 7 bucks; something like that?
LESLIE: The only downside is that the drywall is kind of heavy so you need a buddy to help you load them up onto the car.
TOM: Yeah, and to help you hold them up.
LESLIE: Yeah, to help you hold them up while you install them.
If you want to keep the paneling and try to do something to work over it, you can actually fill all those panels, all of the indentations in the panels, to try to create a smooth surface. But that’s more time-consuming and, in the end, you’d almost be spackling completely over your drywall the same way.
TOM: OK, Mark?
MARK: That sounds great. I sure do appreciate the help.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.