This is a follow up to our removal of paneling post.

We offered up four options for replacing, removing, or covering paneling. We have applied all four on our latest project.

  1. Remove Paneling and wall surface to the studs – new drywall
    This might seem the most costly and the method to replace paneling that is the most work, but it isn’t the case. Drywall is relatively easy and there is a ton of information available on how to finish drywall. In fact, the show ‘Hometime’ has some terrific information that walks you through measuring, cutting, and finishing drywall.
    Sometimes your only option will be to knock out the walls. The paneling might be in such poor shape that you cannot paint it. It could be separating from the wall surface, have a damaged finish, and/or warped. If this is the case, rip it off, and knock the walls out. Take this opportunity to insulate your walls, update electrical or plumbing, etc. It will be messy, but what renovation project isn’t? The results are like that of new construction. You can’t argue with that.
  2. Painting Paneling
    This didn’t turn out too bad. We primed the paneling with a primer that claims it will stick to anything. The paneling that we covered was the type that is essentially a sticker (aka: the cheap kind). After priming, we gave the primer sufficient time to dry thoroughly. Not sure this mattered, but I could certainly scratch the primer more easily on day 2 than I could on day 10. After sufficient dry time, the paneling was painted. Turned out pretty nice. A huge improvement. Since this paneling was in a back hall/stairwell, I didn’t mind the strip look. If this suits your DIY project, go for it. One key takeaway: Don’t skimp on the quality of primer or paint.
  3. Fill grooves and paint paneling
    grooves filled in panelingAt first, this might seem like a good option, and it can be. First, I wouldn’t do this unless I had a quality paneling underneath (real wood paneling). The sticker kind won’t hold your joint compound properly.
    The amount of work involved was rather large and the amount of sanding probably exceeded the amount that it would have been if we had dry-walled the room. First, we secured all areas of the paneling so that there was no bounce to it at all. Our paneling was over plaster walls so a brad nailer held pretty well. Next, we primed the grooves so that our joint compound didn’t crack out right away. The open wood grain would have pulled all of the moisture from the joint compound and caused cracking immediately  As it was, there was a decent amount of shrinkage. The grooves required a second coat of compound.
    If you are debating this method and want to estimate the time. Fill one groove as a test. Prime it, let it dry. Fill it, let it dry. Fill it again, let it dry. Sand it. Time yourself for each step, count the number of grooves to fill and multiply it out. You might be shocked at the number of man hours involved in filling the grooves in your paneling.
    In our case, the end result was excellent. If you are conscientious, and treat it like a finish dryall job, you will end up with a wall surface that rivals that of fresh drywall. Use a flat paint in the end to hide the inevitable imperfections.
  4. Remove Paneling – Skim coat with joint compound – Paint
    I would never attempt this method again. If the wall surface under the damaged paneling was not usable  I would knock them out and drywall in a heartbeat. We had a coating of construction adhesive over the surface of every wall. This was applied with a notch trowel. We knocked down the high points with a putty knife and started filling. The joint compound adhered well enough, but I am sure this will depend upon the makeup of the construction adhesive used.
    The amount of time to coat the walls and deal with surface imperfections is far more than anticipated. It took three coats of compound just as any drywall joint would take. Unless you are a plasterer, don’t try this one at home. The end result is good (just like a plaster coat wall if you are good at it), but the time involved far exceeded the cost factor if we had knocked the walls out, or covered the surface with 1/4″ drywall.

Whatever you choose to do, good luck. Feel free to throw any questions our way. Send a picture of what you are doing. We would love to see if we can be of help.