The Inspector

By NPI, Inc.



What to Know About Removing Wood Paneling

 July 12, 2021 |  Home Maintenance, DIY, Home Decor |  bedroom, basement, living room, walls, painting

Homes of the past can be time capsules of design styles from long ago. From shag carpeting to floral wallpaper, these features can take you back in a house’s history. But you might feel as if your home looks a bit outdated for your liking. Wood paneling is a common style used in homes built from the 1950s through the 1970s whose heyday has certainly come and gone. The good news is that it doesn’t take much to do a quick update!

Tools for the Job
Removing wood paneling is relatively quick and easy, making it a great weekend project! As you get ready to demo, make sure that you have: 

  • Flathead screwdriver 
  • Pry bar 
  • Pliers 
  • Heat gun 
  • Hammer 
  • Chisel 
  • Safety goggles and gloves 

You can also get the materials you need to hang drywall to replace the paneling. Depending on how big of an area you’re remodeling, it might be worth it to rent a dumpster so that everything gets disposed of properly.

Set Up the Room
As with any project, you want to protect the spots you aren’t going to be working on. Before you start ripping off any paneling, lay down plastic sheeting. This will prevent dust from getting everywhere and also catch loose nails. Take off any outlet covers that are covering the paneling. You may also have to remove baseboards or moulding.

Know What’s Attached
There are three ways that wood paneling is typically attached to a wall. You might not know which way yours are installed until you actually get to work.

Panels and Wall Studs or Drywall
If your wood paneling is attached directly to your studs, you’ll have to do a bit more labor. To start, pull back a section of panel with the pry bar. Remove the nails as they get loose and stack the panels aside. Once you’ve removed the panels, it’s time to replace them with drywall. Use drywall putty to fill in the nail holes and reinforce the studs. Hanging drywall can be a bit tricky, so it might be beneficial to hire out to a professional. If the panels are hung directly to drywall, the process is identical to studs.

Panels and Glue
A bit more time-consuming, removing panels glued to drywall requires close attention to detail. You want to be careful and not damage the wall underneath the paneling. Begin by slowly peeling back a section of panel from the wall. With a heat gun, go around the edge of the panel to soften the glue. Keep going around until you can peel off the section, and scrape off the residue. You can also use sandpaper on tougher glue spots if you want to speed things up a bit.

Use to Your Advantage
If you don’t want to begin a new project, there are a few choices you have to make your wood paneling work for you. Oftentimes a fresh coat of paint can really spruce things up. If you have a large bookcase or entertainment center, they can help hide the paneling. There are countless design possibilities, whether you choose to remodel or not!


Call National Property Inspections today.
Find your local inspector today to schedule a full inspection of your home. NPI inspectors have the training, knowledge, and expertise to document the condition of all your home’s major systems.

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