It seemed like a good idea, even gave the room a polished, elegant finish, but wood paneling can feel outdated fairly quickly. However, it's relatively easy to update. Giving it a new finish or completely removing or updating the look of wall paneling can transform the room into a place that the residents of the home want to lounge in.
Wall Paneling Ideas
If you do plan to paint, it's not that difficult of an endeavor if you follow a few simple steps. Spackle should be used to fill in the lines that connect the panels together. Use a spackling trowel to smoothly fill in the lines and create an even surface along the entire wall. If the paneling is pockmarked, scratched up or riddled with divots, it will need spackle as well. The main goal is to have as flat of a surface as possible that will soak up the paint and not reveal any blemishes underneath. After spackling, use a sander or, for smaller areas, sandpaper to smooth out any uneven areas and rough up the surface to prepare it for primer or paint. When conducting a dark paneling makeover, a coat of primer that's made specifically for wood panels can cut down on wasted time and labor and give a level finish that's ready for paint to be quickly and easily applied.
Removing Wall Panels
It's a painstaking process with a rewarding finish. To remove wood paneling, begin with the trim and molding that runs along the floor, walls and ceiling. Any chair rails should also be removed before tackling the bigger boards that are fastened to the wall. A pry bar is helpful in detaching the paneling from the wall. Remove large sections at once when possible in order to minimize the damage to the drywall. After the wood panels have successfully been removed, large globs of glue will more than likely remain stuck to the drywall. A paint scraper worked around the edges of the glue until it comes off is the best way to go before buffing out the remaining bits of the sticky substance from the wall. When removing wall panels, a drywall spackle or mud will be needed to fill in the gouges left behind by the adhesive.
Wallpaper Over Wood Paneling
A fairly quick and easy fix for unwanted wood paneling is to wallpaper the area. The thicker and more patterned the wallpaper, the more it will cover up any faults that lie underneath. If the paneling doesn't have a lot of lines, you may be able to wallpaper directly over the surface. Always prepare the surface by sanding it before placing the wallpaper on top. If the paneling has wide spacing or is truly damaged, it will need to be sanded and spackled carefully.
When to Keep Wood Paneling
Wood paneling that's made of authentic organic wood can be saved with sanding and polish. If the dark paneling makeover includes lightening up the space, sanding the original dark varnish off of the wood and applying a lighter stain can change the entire feel of a room. Original wood paneling from early last century can bring warmth and style to a room if given the proper treatment. If the wall paneling just isn't your style but could be seen as a selling point to future buyers if it's original to the home, a wall liner over the paneling is a good option.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.