If you are living in an older home from the 60’s and 70’s, you may be well aware of some of the “design” trends of the past.. I’m talking about wood paneling specifically. Wood paneling does an excellent job of lining the walls of your home with a dated, unsightly coat of wood and is another one of those home improvement projects that you’re on the fence about. Remove it? Or Paint it? Painting over wood paneling is a great option with the only requirement being that the paneling is in decent condition. If the wood paneling is peeling and cracking then painting over it may not be the best option. It is interesting to note that some new interior design trends include wood paneling, and some variations of it can look quite astounding. More on that later…
In some cases the wood paneling is actually just plywood covered by a picture of wood that is attached on.. In this case for example, painting over it will actually be a bit easier than painting over actual wood because of how porous some wood can be. The more porous the real wood paneling is, the more coats you will have to apply, thus spending more time and more money to achieve the same look.
If your budget allows, then most likely you can just eliminate it. The first thing you need to know before embarking on this project is if there is drywall behind the wood paneling. Many times there is not, and removing the wood paneling and replacing it with drywall might warrant the help of an expert. If you’re not sure whether or not there is drywall behind the wood paneling, you can simply just remove a small section of the wood paneling and see for yourself. I would recommend starting from a corner by prying up a small panel. If you find wall studs directly behind the paneling, then this is a sign that drywall will need to be installed once the paneling is removed. This will be the more costly direction to take, but if your budget allows then all is well. A huge benefit to not finding drywall is that you are able to add insulation in the wall cavity in this scenario, which ultimately leads to better sound resistance between rooms.
(The act of physically removing the paneling is quite simple and can be done at a beginner level. Essentially the only tool that is required would be a pry bar. The greater section of drywall you can remove at once, the easier and less time consuming your project will be.)
Before you begin prepping any trim or baseboards, make sure to wash the walls off really well. Depending on the material with which they were made, they may have collected a lot of dirt and grime over the years. When you are ready to paint your wood paneling take all the normal prepping precautions you would normally take with the addition of one more; using spackling compound or some similar material to fill in the gaps of the wood paneling. This allows for the entirety of the wall surface to be flat and paint friendly. When all the baseboards, ceiling corners and small objects are taped and prepped for painting, you can begin transforming your living room or basement, into something spectacular.
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