Time to Remove that Wood Paneling?

by Renee Marie Jordan 05/02/2021


 Photo by Prawny via Pixabay

Circa 1965, having beautiful wood paneling was the envy of the neighborhood. It was like bringing the outdoors in. But 50-60 years later, it usually just makes a room seem dark and dated unless you live in a log cabin. In most cases, you can remove the paneling and paint the drywall underneath. Here's what you'll do.

What you'll need

  • Primer
  • Brushes
  • Paint rollers 
  • Painter's tape
  • Plastic floor protection
  • Paint pan
  • Putty knife
  • Spackling paste for nail holes
  • Safety goggles
  • Screwdriver
  • Flashlight
  • Pry bar
  • Hand sander

Step one: make sure there's drywall under there

Some home builders simply hung the panels directly onto the studs. Others hung drywall first. Then they nailed the paneling over it. Before you begin this project, you need to know what you have. 

*Pro tip* Find out if you have drywall by removing the outlet and light switch covers. Then peer into the wall with your flashlight. You should be able to see the rough edges of drywall in there. If not, don't proceed unless you also want to hang the drywall. It's not that hard. But it's a two-person, multiple weekend job for the average DIYer. We want you to know what you're getting into. If this is more than you feel comfortable with, contact a professional.

Step two: remove the paneling

Put on your safety goggles. Insulation, nails or a piece of wood could go flying during this job.

Next, use a pry bar to remove any molding or trim, carefully if you plan to reuse it. Now, you'll see the edges of the panel. Pry it off panel by panel. It will be nailed into the studs, so you'll need to put some upper body strength into it. Break boards to get it off the wall. But try to keep the drywall underneath as undamaged as possible.

Step three: repair the drywall

You'll definitely have nail holes to fill after removing the paneling. You may also have small gouges. They are easy to fix. And you'll need to do that to have a smooth painting surface.

Apply spackle to the holes with your putty knife. Then allow them to dry before sanding the surface smooth. You may need a second coat. But know it doesn't have to be perfect. That's what primer is for.

Step four: prime the wall

Primer helps fill small imperfections and smooth the painting surface in preparation for painting the wall. Lay down your plastic and apply painter's tape where needed. Then roll your wall with primer. Use the paintbrush to get corners and crevices that a roller won't reach. 

*Pro tip* If you take a break, put the end of your roller and paintbrush in a large freezer bag and seal it as well with tape or a rubber band. If the primer or paint dries on the brush, you may have to replace it. That's an extra expense you can avoid.

Let the primer dry on the wall. Then use your flashlight to see if there are any thin spots. Apply more, as needed.

And you're all ready to choose your paint color. Goodbye, paneling. Hello, 21st Century. For more home projects to update and improve your home, follow our blog.

About the Author
Author

Renee Marie Jordan

Renee Marie Jordan is a Third Generation Realtor®, who started out her career in residential lending. Jordan Real Estate was established by her grandmother, Jean Kotwitz, who was one of the first female real estate brokers in Solano County! The company was then passed down to her mother, Diane Jordan, over 40 years ago. Renee Marie then took over the company 24 years ago and in 2015 joined forces with RE/MAX Gold.   

Regarded as one of Northern California’s most dependable brokers, Renee Marie has gained industry respect for creating a successful brokerage company. Renee Marie’s unique blend of negotiating expertise, innovative thinking and belief that the client always comes first, has resulted in an extensive client base with many satisfied homeowners. Renee Marie specializes in residential sales, first time buyers, short sale properties, luxury properties, investment properties, foreclosures, 1031 exchanges, and has been the HUD specialist for Solano County since 2009.   

Renee Marie gets to the heart of her clients wants and needs. She attributes a great deal of her success to the many referrals she receives from clients who appreciate the care and thoughtfulness she puts into every transaction. Friends and family members can count on the same excellent service when they are referred to Renee Marie.