Wood Paneling

Wood paneling has a way of screaming “the 1970s” when you enter a home. While many homes may still have the outdated paneling, dressing it up and giving it a fresh look can easily be accomplished on a limited budget. If an entire room or wall is covered with paneling, it can feel a bit overwhelming. But, taking the time to paint, refinish or replace is an easy update that can make your home more appealing.

Wood paneling has a way of making any space appear darker and gives the impression of the room being smaller than it actually is. In the right space such as lake or mountain cabin, wood paneling can create ambiance and provide a cozy atmosphere. But in other homes, it can just appear dated. Let’s further explore some simple ways of updating a paneled room.

Solid Wood vs. Plywood Paneling

Solid wood and plywood are the two primary types of wood paneling. Whichever type you have will dictate how to update it as painting solid wood differs from painting plywood. Solid wood paneling won’t allow you to fill in the grooves as it will eventually fall out or crack (this wood expands and shrinks with the weather conditions). Plywood paneling offers a few more options for updating.

Tips for Updating Wood Paneling:

Tip #1: Paint the paneling. A paint job will require sanding, priming and painting which will dramatically change the look of any space. The paneling grooves can easily be covered with wood putty or caulking to create a smooth surface. But, just painting the paneling can dramatically give the room a different look. Any online search for ‘updating wood paneling’ will return a wide number of results with varying tips on preparation of the panel surface. Some will suggest to lightly sand the surface while another suggestion is to utilize a chemical de-glosser. By doing either of these methods, the roughened surface will allow a better surface for the paint to adhere to.

Tip #2: Rotate. By simply turning the wood paneling 90 degrees on the horizontal it can dramatically change the space into a modern design.

Tip #3: Refinish the paneling. If the paneling is solid wood, then it offers the potential to sand, stain and varnish. If the paneling is laminate, it does offer the option to refinish. However, the stain may not be able to be evenly applied. If you are unsure of what the paneling may look like after being refinished, simply finding a corner or a spot that is hidden by furniture will allow for a good place to test to see if the refinish technique will work.

Tip #4: Dress up the paneling. Simply adding a trim detail can add a new element to any wood paneling. Decorative molding can be utilized to create frames, be used as a baseboard or as a crown molding around the ceiling. Other homeowners have dressed up paneling with wallpaper.

Tip #5: Completely remove the paneling. If updating the paneling isn’t an option, then completely removing the paneling can change most spaces for the better. Paneling can be difficult to remove if it was glued onto the wall surface. Drywall joint compound can help to restore the existing wall or install new drywall directly over the paneling while leaving the paneling intact.

Wood paneling conjures up a mental image in most people’s minds of homes built in the 1970s. With a little time and a little cost, any room that features wood paneling can easily be updated to a sleek and modern space that fits with the trends of today.