Fake wood paneling is out-of-date and fairly ugly, but replacing it can be costly. That is, unless you cover it with drywall compound. If you bought an older home, you may find that instead of drywall being used throughout the rooms, it is wood paneling complete with a wood-grain finish and grooves up to 10-inches apart. Wood-grain paneling was a design style popular in the late 70s and 80s but offered little-to-no design aesthetic, color choices, or insulation. While you can paint over a fake-wood grain, the grooves will still be there.
Replacing wood paneling with drywall will take a little bit of time, money, and knowledge of hanging drywall. Luckily, there’s an easy solution: hide the existing paneling by covering it with drywall compound to simulate the look of drywall. Read on to get started.
Step 1 - Remove the Trim
Wood paneling is nailed directly to the wall studs and then trimmed out with a basic molding. Use a small pry bar and begin removing the trim. If the trim is extra thin, use the pry-bar end of a hammer or even a butter knife. If you plan on using the trim again for another project, remove it carefully.
Step 2 - Prime
Drywall mud will easily stick to the wood panel, but the mud will allow the grain to show through. This makes primer important. The primer you should use needs to be formulated with wood paneling in mind and will usually cost around $30 per gallon. Apply a coat of primer to the wood paneling with a roller. Once that coat is dry, you can apply a second coat.
Step 3 - Use Mesh Drywall Tape
The wood grain may be covered, but you'll notice one thing sticking out — the grooves. To get the wood paneling effect, there are grooves between each panel. These grooves are supposed to make the wood paneling appear as though they are individual planks. Attempts to cover these gouges with mud, spackling compound, and other similar products do not work.
To cover the grooves in the paneling, you should use mesh drywall tape. Start at the top of the panel and pull the tape down, sliding your hand over the top to apply it until you reach the bottom. Tear the tape and continue until all of the grooves are covered.
Step 4 - Apply Drywall Compound
Mix the drywall compound in a bucket according to the directions and then pour some into the mud pan. Scoop some of the drywall compound up with the mud spreader and then slap it onto the wall. Use the spreader to push the drywall compound all over the paneling. Continue applying and spreading out the drywall compound until the paneling is completely covered. Go over it again until the compound is even.