How to Replace Paneling:
How to Replace Paneling
Hammer, Eye protection, Nails (several sizes),
Fine-toothed saw, Tape or rule, Level, Knife, Plumb line,
Drill and bit, Keyhole saw, Carpenter's square, Miter box,
Straightedge rule, Chalk or crayon, Chalk line, Powdered
chalk, Pencil compass, Coping saw, Panel adhesive, Plastic
film or waterproof paper, Masonry waterproofing, Drop-in
caulking gun, Furring strips, Shingle scraps, Masonry bit
and anchors, Furring strip adhesive, Moisture resistant
primer, Moldings, Nail set, Color-matched putty stick,
Marking pen, Stain, Paint brush, Stud-finder, Saber saw
1. Estimating Needs
To figure how much paneling will be needed, measure the
total width of the walls you wish to cover, and dived by
four. This gives the number of 4 x 8- foot sheets
required. If your walls are higher than 8 feet, divide the
additional height into 8 feet to see how many upper pieces
can be cut from a single 4 x 8 sheet. Deduct half a panel
for each door, a quarter panel for each window.
2. Conditioning Panels
When you get them home, your panels should be conditioned.
Ether stand them up individually on their long edges
around the room or stack them flat using plenty of wooden
sticks between panels to allow air to flow freely. They
need 24 hours (above grade) to 48 hours (below grade) to
3. Wall Preparations
Paneling many be installed on three kinds of wall. Panels
less than 1/4 inch thick need a solid backing, such as a
level and flat plasterboard wall, behind them for support.
Panels 1/4 inch and thicker can be installed directly over
even framing members — studs or furring strips (check
building codes for your area on this). All may be put up
by nailing, or a combination of panel adhesive and nails.
4. On Solid Backing
Locate studs. Repair the old wall, seeing that it is
nailed tightly to its framing. The framing behind walls
usually runs vertically on 16-inch centers. So when you
find one stud, you can usually locate the others easily by
measuring. Or use a stud-finder. Either way, mark the
locations by snapping or drawing vertical lines along the
studs. Continue the lines (or put tape) several inches out
onto both ceiling and floor as guides for when the panels
cover the other marks.
Remove trim. Take down all moldings: ceiling, floor, and
around openings. Take off electrical receptacle and switch
covers, first turning off the electricity to them. (Check
to be sure it's off, suing a neon test light.) If the
ceiling is to be paneled, too, remove all light fixtures,
disconnecting them (electricity off) from their wiring.
For safety, reinstall the wire nuts or tape around the
exposed wires inside the junction box.
5. On a Framed Wall
Check the studs to be sure they are vertical and on
16-inch spacing. Also see that backing is provided at
corners, at the top and bottom of the wall, and around
openings. Outside walls should have a vapor barrier over
the faces of the studs.
6. On a Masonry Wall
First check the masonry walls for excessive moisture. If
there is moisture, the walls will need complete
waterproofing before they are paneled. Ask your retailer
for a suitable product. Moisture can sometimes be caused
by condensation. Then add a waterproof vapor barrier
installed over the wall (below grade, do this before
Install 1 x 2-inch or 1/2-inch plywood (ripped 1 inches
wide) furring strips horizontally or vertically, getting
them on 16-inch centers. They are best fastened with
masonry anchors drilled into the wall. Or they can easily
be glued on; your retailer will be able to recommend the
proper adhesive. Furring can also be used to make
imperfectly framed walls even and flat.
Inspect your furring strips as they go up to see whether
they are creating an eve, flat surface. Make necessary
adjustments by shimming behind some of the strips with
pieces of plywood or tapers wood shingles. Nail the
shingles with brads to keep them in position.
7. Installing Paneling
If the panels contain a variable pattern, such as
woodgrains, stand them against the wall around the room
and rearrange or invert some of them for the most pleasing
8. Measuring and Cutting
Begin putting up panels in the corner you see first as you
enter a room. Cut each panel 1/4 inch shorter than ceiling
Get the first corner panel exactly plumb, using a level or
chalked plumb line snapped onto the wall, figure 4. Its
outer edge must be centered on a framing member. The edge
against the corner may have to be cut off enough to bring
the outer edge over a stud or furring strip. Double check
all measurements before sawing. Cut with a fine-tooth saw,
never with one having coarse teeth. Do sawing with a table
or hand crosscut saw (not rip) working from the finished
side of panels. With a saber saw, or radial-arm saw, work
from the back side.
If the corner is not plumb or is irregular, the edge of
the panel against the corner can be scribed to fit. To do
this, plumb the panel 2 inches back from the corner. Then,
holding the compass horizontally, scribe a line onto the
panel with the compass point following the irregularities.
Once the uneven edge is marked and cut with a coping saw,
it will fit into its corner perfectly.
When you get the first panel right, nail (or glue and
nail) it to the wall. Proceed with the other panels,
avoiding a too-tight fit. Leaving the thickness of a dime
between panels will avoid expansion problems. So the gaps
do not show greatly, the area between panels can be
precolored with a marking pen or a stripe of paint the
same color as the grooves.
9. Paneling with Nails
Use the nails recommended by the paneling manufacturer.
Often these are 1-inch brads or 3-penny finishing nails.
If nailing through an old wall, the nails need to be extra
long (usually 1-5/8 inches) to penetrate into the framing.
Place nails every 4 to 6 inches along panel edges and 8 to
12 inches throughout the rest of the panel on studs.
Always begin nailing at one edge and work to the other.
Never nail opposite edges first, then the middle of a
panel. Drive the nails about 1/32 inch below the surface
with a nail set.
The countersunk holes may later be filled with a matching
colored putty stick. When color-matched nails are used,
coutersinking and puttying is not necessary. If you cover
the hammer head with a rag, it will protect the faces of
10. Installing with Adhesive
To hold paneling firmly to the wall, apply 3-inch long
1-1/8-inch beads of a solvent-based panel adhesive to the
studs or solid-backed wall. Leave 6-inch gaps between
beads. At panel edges, apply a continues zigzag bead. If
the wall has been papered, the wallpaper must be removed
first. (Consider simply nailing the paneling on right over
Contact panel and adhesive, driving several nails loosely
across the top to hinge it in the proper location. Then
pull it 10 inches out from the wall at the bottom, resting
it on a block of wood while the adhesive gets tacky enough
for a quick grab. This may take from 2 to 10 minutes.
Now press the panel back against the wall and tap all over
it with a hammer and cloth-padded wood block or rubber
mallet. The "hinge" nails at the top will alter be covered
with trim, or else countersunk and filled over. Heavy
panels need additional support, with nails 16 to 20 inches
apart. Then you need not pull the panel away from the wall
to let the adhesive become tacky. New 10-ounce cartridge
of panel adhesive will do three or four panels. Use
adhesives according to directions on the cartridge,
avoiding prolonged breathing of vapors. Remember, too,
that a panel adhesive may be flammable.
11. Fitting Electrical Boxes
First generously chalk around the edges of the box. Then
hold the panel in position and tap it against the chalked
box. When taken away, the box outline will have been
transferred to the back of the panel. The outlet box
should be adjusted outward to meet the new wall surface.
Then you can simply drill four holes at the corners of the
panel, insert a keyhole saw, and make the cutout. Make it
1/4 inch larger than the box is.
12. Around Doorways
To make cutouts for windows and doors, measure
horizontally from the last panel installed, going over to
the untrimmed opening where you want the edge of the panel
to reach. Do the same from the floor to the top of the
door. Transferring these measurements onto the face of the
panel saw out the rectangle of waste material. The panel
should fit with a 1/4-inch gap between it and the opening.
Paneling around a fireplace will have to be scribed. Trim
will hide tough edges.
13. Finishing Touches
Once your paneling is up, you can trim out the project.
Some plastic-finished panels call for using built-in metal
or vinyl moldings that are installed at the same time the
paneling is. Paneling in bathrooms is often done this way,
using a troweled-on adhesive.
Most trim, however, is installed afterward by nailing it
on. Cut your wood or plastic moldings in a miter box using
a fine-tooth saw. Nail with small finishing nails,
coutersinking the nails and filling the holes with putty
stick. If the moldings are prefinished, clean them with a
dry cloth. Otherwise, apply paint or stain and a clear