Paneling: Refastening Loose Paneling
Paneling is a user-friendly and cost-effective method of enhancing the appearance of an otherwise unsightly wall. Walls covered with nicks, gouges, gashes or a poor paint or wallpaper job are perfect candidates for paneling.
Paneling is available in a vast array of styles, colors and patterns. With or without grooves, real wood veneer or photo finish, light or dark — the choices are almost limitless. And with the myriad of choices come a broad range of prices. For example, a sheet of photo finish or fabricated material can cost a fraction of a sheet with a natural veneer finish.
In either case, the ultimate choice will have a great deal to do with the desired look and the budget within which it is to be accomplished. Other deciding factors are the size of the space being paneled. If one wall of a room is to paneled, the number of sheets required will be less than what would otherwise be required to panel the entire room. Hence, a more expensive paneling can be used.
Conversely, if all of the walls in a room are to be done, or if the room is large, budget may dictate that a more moderately priced material be used. All else being equal, err on the side of quality. Ultimately, the material will look better, last longer and be easier to maintain.
Aside from the paneling, the other materials needed are trim material (baseboard, corner trim, etc.) paneling nails, panel adhesive, some interior flat wall paint and a putty stick. The tools required are a paint brush, finish hammer, circular saw and/or hand saw with a sharp finish blade, a level and a tape measure. It also helps to have a couple of saw horses handy to lay the material on while making cuts.
Prior to installing the first sheet there are a few preliminary steps which need to be followed. First, if the paneling is to be installed over drywall or plaster, locate the studs. This can be done using an electronic stud sensor or with a finish nail and a hammer. Once a stud has been located the others can generally be found at sixteen inch centers. Whenever possible the paneling nails should be driven into a stud for more secure fastening. This is especially important at the joints where two sheets abut one another.
Most paneling comes in sheets four feet wide by eight feet high. It’s best to start in a corner. First, determine if the corner is plumb (that’s level up and down) by placing a level in the corner. If the adjacent wall is significantly out of plumb the first piece of paneling may need to be ripped to follow the wall. This is for two reasons: to allow the corner trim to cover the joint and for the first sheet to be plumb. It is extremely important that the first sheet be plumb to ensure that each of the successive pieces are plumb. Use a level to establish a plumb line and align the factory edge of the first sheet with this line.
Using a panel adhesive in a caulking gun, apply a medium bead of adhesive at the entire perimeter of the sheet and at uniform intervals throughout the field. Apply the adhesive in a zigzag pattern for the best coverage. Next, place the sheet against the wall and attach it using the paneling nails. Where possible the nails should be installed in the grooves, spaced eight to ten inches apart. Nailing at the joints should be slightly closer. Where no grooves exist, the nails should be set with a punch and concealed using a color coordinated putty stick.
The most difficult aspect of paneling installation has to do with cutting around windows, doors and electrical boxes. Use a measuring tape to transfer these locations on the reverse side of the paneling and make cuts using a jig saw and a hand saw with a sharp finish blade.
Once all of the paneling has been installed the trim can be installed at the corners, ceiling and at the base. Trim at the ceiling is optional depending up how neat the installation.
A common problem that occurs after paneling has been installed for a while is buckling. This is generally due to excessive moisture. To fix this, a panel adhesive should be applied before renailing the panel to the studs.
The fix is simple. Insert a pry bar under the loose panel and pry the area partly open. Use a wood block for leverage and to protect the finish. Loosen the edge one nail at a time. Remove all the nails from the loose edge. Keep the pried area of the panel wedged with scraps of wood. Apply a bead of panel adhesive with a caulking gun to the surface of the drywall, plaster or stud.
Wait for the adhesive to set up, remove the wedges and press the panel into place. Drive color-matched nails into the panel along the glued edge. It is best to drive the nails into the old nail holes. Fill holes and nail heads with a color-matched putty stick.
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