I have a family room that has natural wood beam ceiling, but the walls have
wood paneling that has been painted a dark brown.
I am trying to decide whether I should strip the paint off the panels then
see what I can do with the paneling, versus ripping them all out and do
drywalls. Seems it's pretty easy to strip the paint off the surface of the
wood panels but the groove in between the panel is a challenge. Is the an
easy way or should I just rip them out and put them out of their misery?
I'd look at running a router in the groove rather than try to strip it. I'd
rip them down rather than try to strip that much surface of paint. Looks
like a rather big project.
Replacing the wood paneling with drywall is preferable from a fire safety
consideration. However, it is more work than is immediately obvious. All
the door, window and baseboard trim must be removed, not that big a job and
can be reused if done carefully (utility knife to break paint seal, if any,
putty knife to open joint, thin pry bar to loosen molding; pull finish nails
though back face with vise grip pliers and pry bar). Since the drywall
(1/2") will be thicker than the paneling (3/16"), all of the door and window
casings must be extended out by nailing and gluing wood strips (1/2 - 3/16 5/16" thick)to the face of the casings. Smooth the face joint as needed
with drywall compound or wood putty and sand smooth. Similarly, after the
drywall is installed, extend all of the electrical outlet and switch boxes
with plastic or metal 'extenders' made for the purpose. Re-apply the door,
window and baseboard trim moldings and prep: fill nail holes with wood
filler, blend miter joints with paintable caulk and a damp rag then sand
smooth and paint. Finally, paint or paper walls. Bathrooms are a special
problem if the toilet tank is closer than 3/8" to the original paneling.
An alternative is to use a drywall knife and fill all of the paneling joints
with drywall compound or, better, wood filler (I like Elmer's Carpenter's
interior/exterior); sand smooth and paint -- several coats and sand with
intense glancing light or joints will show through final finish. Another
alternative is to paint the paneling, joints included, with one color, then,
carefully, paint every other vertical strip with a slightly darker shade. A
third alternative is to simply paint the damn paneling one solid color,
joints and all (women sometimes like it, men sometimes hate it, SWMBO
rules). The feasibility of re-painting paneling hinges on whether the
original paint passes the thumbnail scratch test. Unpainted wood paneling
must be primed first and before that sanded if it is shiny with wax or
Our 1970ish all-paneled house has had every one of these alternatives
applied to various rooms depending on circumstances and objectives. Oh, one
room, a library, was left paneled.
If you want to keep the paneling, you're best off replacing it. If you
want to get rid of those annoying grooves, you can get a paper (think
wall paper) that will go over the paneling and provide a smooth,
paintable surface. My mother's used this several times in her house, so
if you need more information post back and I'll ask her what she used
Wise is the man who attempts to answer his question before asking it.
To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
Is that beadboard? If so, it would be a nightmare to strip, and
probably more expensive than replacing it. How about lighter paint and
a fake woodgrain?
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