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Can You Panel over Wallpaper? What You Need to Know


How to panel over wallpaper.

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Paneling over wallpaper is a relatively simple DIY project that almost any homeowner can do. Whether your wallpaper is peeling on its own or it’s just time for a change, fully taking it down is quite the chore. 

Yes, wallpaper can be paneled over. It is often used as a time-saving method when compared to reinstalling a new wallpaper. Paneling comes in many different styles to reflect the design of your home, so there are endless ways in which you can use panels to cover your old wallpaper stylistically.

Ok, paneling’s done, but the wood does not look right with the rest of the house. Surely there’s got to be a way to make wood panels look better. If this sounds all too familiar, or you’re contemplating paneling over wallpaper, stick around; this article is for you. Keep reading for all you need to know about paneling over wallpaper.

Can You Panel over Wallpaper?

Not only can it be done, but you can do it yourself. Paneling over wallpaper is a great way to change up the look of any room without having to do any major renovations. 

Paneling over wallpaper requires a bit of work—nowhere as much work as removing and replacing wallpaper but a bit of work either way. There are quite a few tools necessary to nail the panel over the wallpaper and a few tools needed to cut off the peeled parts of the wallpaper.

Paneling over wallpaper is also an inexpensive option. Panels can be found at just about any big box home improvement store, starting as low as $3 each. Depending on the size of the room, that’s an affordable way to make a cosmetic change and an upgrade.

See Home Depot’s selection of wall paneling (link to Home Depot website).

How to Panel Over Wallpaper

Before You Get Started

There are a few things you’ll want to do before you jump in and get started. First, gather the tools and supplies you’ll need to get the job done right. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Utility Knife
  • Stud finder
  • Table saw
  • Pencil
  • Claw Hammer
  • Paneling
  • Finish Nail Gun
  • Wallboard adhesive
  • Tape measure
  • Wood filler
  • Sandpaper

Prepping Before Paneling

  • Do not assume that your house walls are even. Some users might need to take an extra step to ensure that the panels are evenly screwed into the wall.
  • When picking out a panel, pay attention to the thickness. Look to your baseboards as an example of how thick you want your panels to be. Panels that are thicker than your baseboards usually do not look well, so I would try to get thinner one.  

Directions

  1. Measure the height and width of your wall very carefully. Measure twice, or even three times if you want to be sure. 
  2. Figure out how you want your panels arranged. Try a few different layouts to see which one you like best. Instead of laying them out of the floor, try arranging them against the wall for a better visual. Each sheet should overlap half a stud on the ends to allow a surface for attachment.
  3. Thoroughly remove any peeling or damaged pieces of wallpaper with your utility knife. The surface should be as smooth as possible. 
  4. Use the stud finder to locate all of the studs in your working area—Mark these with a pencil or chalk. 
  5. Position your sheet with the edge centered half over a stud. Start with your first sheet’s edge covering half of a stud. Use a level to make sure the paneling is straight; don’t rely on the studs. Draw a line where you’ll be placing the panel once it’s cut to fit. 
  6. Workaround outlets and light switches by carefully measuring and cutting these into the paneling before it’s on the wall. 
  7. Use the table saw to cut the panels, sanding down any rough edge. 
  8. Cut through the openings you have marked on the panel by using the table saw.
  9. Cover the back of the panel with adhesive and firmly press into the wall. Use a roller to smooth it onto the surface then.
  10. Repeat step 9 until all of the walls are covered.
  11. With the nail gun, attach the panel to the studs. Three or four nails down the length of the panel should do the trick. 
  12. Fill the nail holes using wood filler.

Finishing Your Wall Panels

If you feel like the wood panel does not go well with your room, you do not have to pull off your panels and paint on your peeling wallpaper. No, you can paint over your panels! This method of painting over your wall panels will save you lots of time and headache after all the hard work you did, putting up those pesky panels.

Before Your Get Started

Before you start, make sure you have the right materials. And make sure the adhesive has dried up entirely under your panels. There are quite a few steps needed to take before you apply paint on your wall panels.

Here’s What You’ll Need

  • A bucket of water
  • Caulking gun
  • Paint
  • Roller
  • Sponge
  • Soapy water
  • Stain-blocking primer
  • Hammer
  • Vacuum
  • Wood putty or vinyl spackling
  • Painting plastic
  • Paintbrush
  • Sandpaper

 Prepping Before You Finish Your Paneling

  • If you have any furniture or decorations near the walls in the room you are painting in, be sure to put painting plastic over them. It would be a disaster to get paint all over the furniture, so let’s try to avoid that!
  • On that note, be sure to get any coverings to block outlets and other electronic devices from paint.
  • To avoid another disaster, be sure to bring lots of dry towels and place them on the floor where you are painting. It would not be fair to get paint on those floors too, or else we’d have to make another article about removing paint stains!

Directions

  1. It’s best to start painting on wood with a clean, dry surface. With a bucket of soapy water and a sponge, dip the sponge in the soapy water and give those panels an excellent scrub. Allow the walls to dry completely
  2. Fill all of the nail holes and dents in the walls using your wood putty or vinyl spackling. If you have any raised nails, recess them with a hammer.
  3. Because most panels have a finish that will not adhere to paint, it is best to use sandpaper and sand the walls. This will allow for the finish to be correct for the paint to work.
  4. Use your sponge or a damp cloth to wipe away any residue after the sanding.
  5. Apply caulk using your caulking gun to any seam and corner of the wall where the wall panels meet. Remove the excess caulk with a damp cloth or sponge.
  6. As an extra failsafe in case paint gets on the ceiling and floor, add painters tape to the edge of the ceiling and floor adjacent to the paneled wall.
  7. Add a coat of stain-removing primer to the walls using your roller and a paintbrush if necessary. The paintbrush will fill in any grooves that the roller misses. Be sure to use a primer that is compatible with your panel surface. Home Depot recommends using a stain-removing latex primer or an oil-based primer on wood panels.
  8. Repeat step 7 using a clean roller and paintbrush to apply the paint to the wall panels. Allow the paint to dry for at least 24 hours.

The Verdict

You absolutely can panel over wallpaper, thank goodness! Taking down wallpaper can get messy, so paneling is a great alternative. Paneling over your wallpaper saves time and money. Not to mention, it’s not impossible to do on your own. Paneling over wallpaper is an easy way to give any room a facelift. 

Paul

As a homeowner, I am constantly experimenting with making the structure of my house more energy-efficient, eliminating pests, and taking on DIY home improvement projects. Over the past two decades, my family has rehabbed houses and contracted new home builds and I've learned a lot along the way. I share my hard-learned lessons so that you can save time and money by not repeating my mistakes.

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