As is often the case in houses with plaster walls, at some point, instead of repairing or replacing them, the previous homeowners put 60s/70s paneling over them.
Now, I am not one that blanket hates 1970s paneling. I just believe it belongs in a 1970s house, not a 1920s Craftsman.
Thankfully they didn’t do a bad job of putting up the paneling in this house, but it’s still paneling, and it made me twitch. So I was left with the question: how do you make paneling NOT look like paneling until you can do a full restoration?
Fill in the grooves!
It’s not a difficult job, it’s just a slow job.
Before I could fill in the grooves though, I had to sand the walls. For some reason, the walls in the whole room were a very rough, sandy texture. Rough as in, I think they were painted with that outdoor, non-skid floor paint. We’re not totally sure, but that’s our best guess.
Here’s how to fill in the grooves of paneling:
Time needed: 2 days.
Make paneled walls look like drywall.
- Lightly sand the walls if they’re glossy.
You need a little texture for the primer and paint to stick to.
- Apply joint compound with a small putty knife into the groove.
An all-purpose joint compound will work perfectly.
This is a good set of basic putty knives. (Affiliate links)
Over-fill the crack and press it down to make sure there are no air pockets.
- Scrape off the excess joint compound with a medium size putty knife.
Scrape straight up or down along the groove like this to level everything out.
Let the joint compound dry for as long as the tub you purchased says it needs (some are shorter than others). If you’d like to hurry it up, you can use a blow dryer on medium heat…but that would be a lot of drying.
Generally, just wait until the next day, unless you did it early morning, then you might be able to move on the same evening.
- Wet sand the first layer
Using a VERY SLIGHTLY damp towel or old t-shirt (seriously: very slightly, barely wet, otherwise you’ll just remove all the compound you added), gently “sand” the area in circular motions.
Wet sanding will save you hours of clean up over sand paper, you won’t get dust all over everything, and you won’t have to wear a mask. And the finish is just as good, if not better.
- Apply the second coat of compound/drywall mud
As the compound dries, it will sink in to the grooves. If you tried to paint it at this point, you’d still have all the lines, so you’ll need at least one more coat.
Once it’s dry, wet sand again like the first time. Then you’re ready to prime! You will need to prime before painting because paint is not designed to stick directly to joint compound…so it won’t.
I’m in the middle of that process here: first coat is almost done, then I’ll be doing the second one tomorrow.
Before my walls here can be painted, I’ll have to prime and paint the big foam-paneled ceiling. 🙁 By the time I make it through that giant project, I will probably have made it through an entire audio book. But it will look SO MUCH BETTER once it’s done.
Early last week, I still had no idea what color we’d want on the walls, so I put up a few paint samples. They’re all colors we really like (in fact, the living room and kitchen were just painted the top left color), but they all just looked terrible in this room. We really wanted something with warmer undertones, so I brought up the paint I bought for the office just to see what it would look like (top right), and we both loved it in here.
It’s a very subtle stone color. In the morning, it’s a creamy white, in afternoon sun, it’s almost light pink, and in the shade it’s a light, warm purple. (It happens to be the same color as the powder room, and living room and dining room ceilings of our Victorian.)
Sorry for the ugly photos, there hasn’t been time to take decent ones. But it will make the “After” photos look even better, right? 😉
So that’s where we’re at! Hopefully by next Thursday, the ceiling, walls and trim will all filled, patched, repaired, and repainted!
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