A Simple How-To Guide for Paneling Walls

Choosing among the various types of paneling can be overwhelming. There is a plethora of available options including differences in style, effect, and finish. For example, there are over fifty different types of veneered wood grains on wall panels. Veneered wood is a great option for many because it is less expensive than solid wood and looks practically identical to the untrained eye. Solid wood paneling possibilities include mahogany, pine, cherry, oak, and walnut. However, not all paneling is wood-based. For example, paneling also comes in styles that replicate marble, stone, paintings, and engravings.

Once you have selected the type of paneling that you desire, the next step requires you to determine how much of the material you will need. The simplest way to determine this quantity is to draw the room dimensions to scale on graph paper where each box is equal to two square feet. Also determine the ceiling height and calculate the empty space dimensions such as doors and windows. Wall panels are typically 4 x 8 feet so without factoring in window and door space, add up the room’s perimeter and divide that number by four. The resulting figure is the number of panels needed to cover your walls. On average, subtract about 1/2 panel for each window and 2/3 panel for each door.

Place an order for the paneling from your nearest home improvement store and have it delivered directly to your home several days before the project begins. Make certain that you order enough paneling and most store policies will allow you to make returns unless the products were specially ordered. Relocate the paneling to the room where it will be installed so that it can be exposed to the room’s humidity and temperature which will allow it adjust. If this step is not taken, it is possible that the paneling might expand or contract later after it has been installed. Separate the panels when stacking them by placing lathe between the layers to allow air circulation.

Installing The Panels

1. You will need strips of furring that are 1 x 2 inch or 1 x 3 inch in dimension. If you will be installing full sized panels, the furring strips should be applied vertically over the existing 2 x 4 framework at 16 inch intervals. If the panels to be installed are anything other than full sized, the furring strips should be installed horizontally at 16 inch intervals.

2. Locate the electrical switches and boxes that the paneling will need to go around. Carefully measure the dimensions and location of these boxes. Mark these dimensions on the paneling and proceed to cut the openings. The simplest way to cut these openings is to drill small holes in the corners of your markings and then use a keyhole saw to cut them out. Place the paneling over the wall to ensure that there is a proper fit and make adjustments if needed.

3. Apply a strong adhesive directly to the back of the paneling in 16 inch vertical and horizontal intervals. Place a small amount of cement to the furring strips that will be in contact with the paneling.

4. Place the paneling up to the framework so that some of the adhesive can be transferred. Then pull the paneling away and prop it away from the framework using a wood block. It is okay if the top part of the paneling is resting against the framework. Wait about five minutes as this time allows the adhesive to set up and develop a strong tackiness.

5. Install the paneling to the framework and hold five to ten minutes until a strong bond is formed. This time will vary depending on the adhesive as well as the type and weight of the paneling.

6. It is recommended that a few small nails be hammered into the top and bottom of the paneling. This will ensure that the paneling remains tight against the framework while the adhesive bond thoroughly develops. Once you are satisfied that the bond is permanent, the nails can be either pulled or sunk. Fill the holes with putty that coordinate with the paneling.

7. Manufacturers generally offer a line of finished hardwood moldings and trims that coordinate with their paneling. These often come in a wide variety of contours and finishes so that the process of finding something you like is simplified. This also allows you to perform the finishing work around the doors, windows, and corners so that you have a final product that you are completely satisfied with and proud of.

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