Handy tips for revitalizing paneled rooms -
Paneling is a low-cost way to cover problem walls. In the 1960s and 1970s, paneling was very popular. Sold in large panels, paneling was relatively easy to hang, and quickly became a staple of dens and finished basements.
But few of today’s homeowners are enamored with the look of faux wood paneling. Those who purchase homes that have paneling on the walls often search for ways to transform the look of rooms in which the walls are covered in paneling. While paneling does go up quickly, removing it may not be as simple. Explore these options for giving paneled walls a new look.
Paint over the paneling
The fastest way to breathe new life into a paneled room is to paint over the paneling. The texture of the paneling will show from beneath, giving the room appeal without the dark hue of the wood or veneer panels. Consult with a paint store or home improvement center to determine the most effective way to cover up paneling with paint. Sometimes it is wise to lightly scuff the paneling with a fine-grit sandpaper so that the paint will adhere. Shiny or glossed paneling can be dulled with a de-glossing product. Sometimes a combination of a thick primer and color will grip the paneling and reduce the number of coats needed to cover it. Also, invest in a high-quality, professional-grade paint. It may cost a bit more, but such paint will be well worth it when it glides over the paneling, covering it completely. If you don’t want the grooves showing between the panels, fill them in with spackle and sand down to create a smooth surface before painting.
Cover the paneling
Covering up the paneling is another tactic. Rather than coating the wall in paint, consider a wallpaper liner. Liners are essentially a thick, plain wallpaper that is applied on top of the paneling or used when dealing with damaged walls. In lieu of tearing down the walls and putting up new drywall, the liner will cover imperfections. Many of these products can be painted directly and may not require priming beforehand. This can be great for homeowners whose goal is to cover paneling quickly and easily.
Those who prefer a patterned look on the walls can opt to cover paneling with a printed wallpaper. However, depending on the thickness of the wallpaper, this may be a two-step process. You may need to fill in the creases between the panels first, or first use a thick wallpaper liner to create a seamless surface.
Cut the paneling
If you desire a cottage or country look in a room, remove half of the paneling, leaving the bottom portion intact. Then place molding or a chair rail where you made your cut, creating a wainscoting effect. The top portion of the wall can be painted, while the bottom portion can be left as the wood color or painted a complementary color.
Remove the paneling
The most labor-intensive way to give a paneled room a new look is to remove the paneling. Pry at a portion of the paneling in an inconspicuous spot in the room to determine which method was used to install the paneling. Some people only tack it into place with small, finishing nails, while others glue the paneling to the wall for a secure installation. Glue will be much more difficult to remove and could further damage the walls and paneling in the process. If the paneling is too difficult to remove, covering or painting it may be a smarter option. Small nails can be removed by pulling at the panels. Spackle holes before painting over the walls.
Paneling is an inexpensive decorating option that was first popularized 40 years ago. Though less popular now, paneling still shows up in homes and can be remedied with some relatively easy tips.