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Question DetailsAsked on 6/3/2011

Can I use wall liner to cover up existing wood paneling?

My friend told me it would be relatively easy to take down the wood panelling and buy some type of wall from Lowes that screws right in to the beams, but she didn't say if she meant drywall or something else, if there is any other type of wall to put up. Another option is either covering the grooves in the wall and painting over that, or simply putting up wall liner. I don't know how much work it would take to cover the grooves and I know remotely nothing about wall liners. If anyone knows how much time and effort these certain methods, or different methods take please let me know. Ease would be appreciated, slightly because money is an issue, but I want it to look very good when it' finished, and I want it to last for a long time and look like a real wall if at all possible.

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6 Answers


It sounds like the long-term fix would be drywall, but that is not something a new DIY-er should tackle. Elsewhere on this board you'll see discussions about covering over panelling with liner paper, which some people highly recommend. Apparently filling in the grooves never works very well. I'm sure others will have some suggestions for you. I'm impressed by your determination. Let us know how it goes, and upload some before and after photos!

Answered 9 years ago by Commonsense


I'm not sure if I'm correctly understanding what you're describing. I assume you're talking about interior walls? If so it's sounds like your walls are a poorly executed "weekend warrior do-it-yourself-er" project. The "beams" you're describing... is it 2"x4" framing? Is there a piece of it running horizontally across the top and bottom with vertical 2"x4"s nailed to them every so many inches?

If so your "wall" is just a "partition" and depending on the size of the rooms it divides and what they're used for you might want to just consider taking the mess down.

But, if you're happy with the original room being divided this way and are short on funds applying wall liner (and paint) over the paneling will make it look better. But, it kinda reminds me of the old expression "polishing a turd". It'll look better, but it's still not really a "wall".

If you're really, really, really short of funds - just painting over paneling would be an improvement over that "fake wood" look. Sure, everyone knows it's paneling - but, at least it's not dark and dated.

If it were me I wouldn't spend a lot of time or effort on dressing up a "wall" made of paneling. If I weren't going to rip it down I'd probably just paint it until I had the time and money to drywall it properly.

Maybe someone will have a better idea.

Answered 9 years ago by Rebecca


Julie, I'm confused by what you refer to as "beams".

<Many developers sold homes with unfinished spaces except for load bearing walls. Some still do. If you've already removed the paneling and there is no header (beam), most likely a previous home owner errected an inexpesive divider making a single large room into 2 smaller rooms. Is there is any electrical wiring in the :wall" you opened up?

Your construction project doesn't sound like something a teenager should tackle...better safe than sorry!

Answered 9 years ago by tessa89


A picture is worth a thousand words, if you can post one. At this time Im assuming its traditional 2x4 framing. Sounds like your best bet is to use drywall, it will help with noise and temp control. Ive seen many attempts to cover paneling, but none seem to really look good after a couple of years. If there are windows or doors in the wall, this changes how you hang drywall. Dry wall is relatively easy to install if you can check out a book from the library. The part that takes skill is taping and texture. Renting a texture rig will cost you, and some people have a hard time learning even patterns. So as a novice, using dry wall, I suggest a flat wall without texture and dont paint till you are happy with the wall, because paint will show all the details in the wall, such as a seam edge that didnt get sanded all the way smooth. Remember too much mud is better then not enough, because you can always sand it flat easily( highly suggest a facemask while sanding). Also a factor is fresh dry wall will cosume a little more paint then a prepainted wall. I always suggest calling a professional if you can afford it though, and it may not be as expensive as you think. If you are thinking about pricing Drywall, here is a quick list of things you'll need: Drywall, box of Mud, at least a 6' drywall knife, mud pan, utility knife, tape measure, pencil, some kind of Straight edge, Screw driver (highly suggest electric) and Drywall screws or hammer and Drywall nails, Drywall tape (not fiberglass), Sandpaper and or block, new base for the floor, paint, roller, roller pan. Then again, if there are no holes in the paneling at all, and you want a quick temp fix, you can always carefully remove the paneling and put the flatside out, spackle, chalk and paint with killz.

Answered 9 years ago by LostAxon


Wall liner works great! I bought a dozen or so rolls of it when I found it on a clearance rack at Lowe's for $1/roll (normally around $10/roll). We have a house built in the '70s that we are in the process of updating, and it's full of dark, walnut-colored paneling. You lightly sand the paneling to knock off any slick surface. Then fill in the grooves in the paneling with sheet rock mud. If necessary, sand it smooth when the mud dries. Prime the wall with a wallcovering primer (made for hanging wallpaper over and it's thinner in consistency than regular paint primer). When that is dry, hang the wall liner. The liner I bought was unpasted, so I had to use wallpaper paste to adhere it to the wall. Let it cure for 48 hours to get hard and dry. Then, we used drywall mud on the seams, and sanded smooth. At this point, prime it with regular primer for new sheetrock, then paint. It looks PERFECT ... no seams are visible and you cannot tell it's paneling under there. A little time consuming (mostly waiting for things to dry), but if you're not up for hanging new sheetrock or paying someone else to (which is quite pricey), it's a very affordable resolution and no one's the wiser.

Answered 8 years ago by onedbguru


One of the comments talked about just taking out a bare stud wall if you don't want to keep it - bear in mind many walls are load-bearing, some are just architectural partitions - do not take out any wall until you have confirmed with an expert that it is not load-bearing - either for the floor above, or because there is another wall (of any type) above that. Take out a load-bearing wall and you may get immediate structural collapse, or it may take months or years to sag and deform so you have a several inch bow in the ceiling and floor above, possibly ending in structural failure of joists eventually.

General rule of thumb - any wall with double top plate (two 2x4's on top of each other across the top of the wall) or any beam across the top bigger than a 2x4 is almost guaranteed to be load bearing. Walls with only a single 2x4 flat across the top may be purely architectural partitions, or may be sag support walls designed to keep floor beam sag to an acceptable level, so maybe can and maybe cannot be taken out.

You need a determination by a architect, engineer, or framing (not finish) carpenter to tell you for sure.

Three other alternatives you did not talk about, if they interest you, are:

1) plastic or fiberglass architectural panelling, which could be put straight over the grooved panel you have now if it is smooth and planar,

2) ungrooved hardwood veneer plywood, without grooves - though you would still have sheet edges every 4 feet to cover with trim,

3) fabric wall coverings, either as draped fabric or as framed panels, or like tapestries or hanging quilts or rugs.

One other matter, on using drywall mud to fill the grooves - this can work if you are covering the wall with something else like wallpaper or liner board, but do not expect this to give an acceptable finish for direct painting, and also does not hold up well in playroom environment where kids will be bumping the walls, as it does not bond real great, so breaks loose and makes lmps behind the liner board or oerlying panelling.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD

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