Handy tips for re­vi­tal­iz­ing pan­eled rooms -

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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.

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