Wood Paneling Transformation Without Drywall

$50 – $100

A lot of these posts are not only about improving the value of your home, but saving money doing it yourself and getting the satisfaction of creating the finished product. So, what can you possibly do with that old wood paneling wall?

Wood paneling is hideous and if you have no idea how to put up dry wall over it, the simple solution is just to paint it. But, if you want it to look like a legitimate wall again, there’s another solution. I will warn you that it can be time consuming but it’s definitely cheap.

You could do exactly what I did to a wood paneling wall at my mom’s old house. Basically, fill in the cracks of the wood paneling (where the boards separate), sand, and paint.

This was a super easy solution to renovating this room. It was also definitely tedious but the end results look great, and as an
added bonus – it’s much cheaper than tearing it down, or putting up dry wall over it. It really is as simple as spackle, sand, and paint.

Step 1: Spackle your Wood Paneling Cracks

Start by filling in the cracks in between each board of the wood paneling with spackle. Depending on the size of the room, you probably want a large bucket. Use the putty knife to make it as smooth as possible in the cracks. Go around the entire room and make sure all cracks are filled in.

  • We ran into a unique issue where part of the wood paneling was “bubbled” and if you pressed on it, it would easily be depressed.
  • I cut away parts of the wood paneling where this was happening, essentially peeling it off until I ran into an area where it was firm and adhered to wall again. You will have to fill those parts in with spackle as well.

Step 2: Sanding

After you finish filling in all of the cracks with spackle, the next step is quite dusty so just be prepared with a mask and fan. Cover the furniture and open the windows if necessary and try to keep the dust contained. I had an electric sander and I had to change sand paper frequently.

If you’re doing this by hand, depending on the room size, it could take even longer. Keep in mind, the room that I did, was rather large. I would recommend jumping right to a high grit sand paper to make is as smooth as possible and flush to the rest of the wall boards.

This may peel off more of the wood paneling so you may have to go over a couple of spots with the spackle again. Make sure you wipe down the walls with a damp rag or towel afterwards to get all of the dust off before painting.

Also, you may run into an issue like I did where the paneling wasn’t completely joined at the corners, where two walls meet. I just used paintable caulk to fill in the gaps.

Step 3: Paint

As you can see, we needed two coats of primer before actually painting. If you only do one coat, you might still be able to see the paneling behind it, but you can test this for yourself. If you need help painting, check out these must have paint products.

Paint the walls a color of your choosing after that, and that should be it! If you notice other defects while painting, you may have to go over it again with spackle, but the hard part is done.

Looking at the finished product, you legitimately wouldn’t even know that there was wood paneling here. This can be time consuming and messy at times, but well worth it in the end.

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