stripping down kitchen... walls are simply paneling?

Howdy all! I'm in the process of stripping down my kitchen due to some water damage to the floor (completely remodeling the kitchen) and today I just got out the counters and bottom cabinets.
What has me baffled is that it turns out my walls, which face the outside, aren't made of plaster or sheetrock, but paneling. Thin, flimsy, paneling like you'd use to decorate a wall. I'm flabbergasted because I've never seen or heard of such a thing (not that I have any experience in this stuff, mind you!) These walls face the exterior of the house. I have old fiberglass insulation in there, and the exterior of the house is brick siding.\\
So I'm wondering if, to help with cooling, I should be putting up something else? It's not a particularly large kitchen, and "thickening" the walls up with real sheetrock will take up valuable inches (ok... a valuable inch I suppose!), but this house is just awful with cooling and if having this "paneling" for a wall is hurting me, I need to consider alternatives.
One other observation... when I gutted the bottom cabinets, I found that the air vent, which comes up through the floor under the sink, was simply blowing up onto the floor of the cabinetry rather than being "funneled" to the vent that was on the outside of the cabinets, in the toe-kick area. Is that normal? Should it be funneled to the vent? The way I see it, that air is rushing up and cooling the underside of the cabinets more than the room itself.
Thanks in advance for any and all input!
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on 9/6/2007 9:02 PM John said the following:

Yes, for a more direct flow. As it is now, the air will eventually come out the toe kick due to a build up of pressure in the space below the cabinet bottom, unless it continues on somewhere else.

--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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The use of paneling right on the studs is a little cheesy, but not especially unusual. I wouldn't worry about it if you are OK with the paneling's appearance. Replacing with drywall would not affect your heating/cooling, there is no difference (or a really trivial difference) between the R-values of the two.
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On Fri, 7 Sep 2007 12:20:49 -0400, Heathcliff wrote

Thanx for the advice. One other question then... the house is over 40 years old.... since I'll have everything torn down, should I consider replacing the insulation due to age? It's the typical pink fiberglass. Anything better I could be using? Thanks!
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Heathcliff wrote:

The use of paneling fastened directly to the studs is not just cheesy it is dangerous. Light weight paneling that is not backed with some heat absorbing medium has an absolutely phenomenal flame spread rating. Most paneling is also somewhat difficult to keep clean so it is not a very sanitary interior surface for use in kitchens. When Sheetrock or plaster is used as an interior finish it provides two advantages over wood finishes. It resist ignition and it resist the passage of fire into the framing of the building. Once a fire takes possession of the structures frame a complete loss of the structure is hard to avoid. I would suggest that you replace the paneling with painted Sheetrock or some similarly fire resistive construction. -- Tom Horne
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On Fri, 7 Sep 2007 19:00:00 -0400, Thomas Horne wrote

Oi... that's good to know! Thank you for the input. Looks like we'll be putting up sheetrock then.
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In a similar line of reasoning, there is the issue of following building code. No building code in the US would allow this today. A major renovation like this typically calls for a building permit, inspections etc. And then there is the issue of what happens when you go to sell the place. If an inspection happens to find it, then what? Or if the place burns down and the insurance company somehow figures out what you did. All in all, many very good reasons to fix this now and do it right. And no good reason not to.
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