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This weekend was a bit unusual project-wise. To begin with, there was a LOT of progress made. Which I guess isn’t all that typical for me (you know how I tend to creep along). The other unusual factor was that all of my project work wasn’t even at my own home. Instead, I put aside the unfinished business going on at the Ugg-Duck in favor of getting a little something done at Mom and Dad’s.

Drywall over paneling

Let me explain:  Dad’s been a BIG help to me with my home over the years (like here and here and here). Mom too. So despite all of the crazy going on with the announcement last Friday (just FYI, still working on a few posts this week to give you guys the full details! Expect part of that tomorrow!), it was only a matter of time before help would start going in the other direction. And Dad wanted to surprise Mom, who was out of town to share a weekend with my aunt (they’re twins, so they like planning birthday trips together). Dad’s plan was to take advantage of her weekend away by covering all of the existing (and very ugly) wood paneling in the dining room with 1/4″ drywall (something my Mom has been asking for for a LONG time).

In short:  Dad needs help, daughter interrupts normal kitchen grouting plans to install drywall. Still with me? Good.

Drywall over paneling

Why this method? I went with my Dad’s opinion on that. I think my instincts would tell me to just tear it all off in order to put drywall up (and of course, the drywall would have to be thicker). But we had a few factors to consider. For one, the paneling wasn’t in terrible shape (my parents had previously patched, caulked, primed, and painted a number of times in the last 20 years to make it work, but have since given up). For another, the drywall was fairly easy for a DIY duo to install in a single weekend (as opposed to just tearing everything out first, which would have taken up the entire weekend in that alone, I assume). And by using only 1/4″ thickness, we were able to maneuver it pretty easily and plan for minimal tweaks to the surrounding trim work. We’d already taken into consideration the outlets, light switches, and existing crown, and Dad seems pretty confident that doing things this way is easier than tearing it all down and starting over. I’m basically along for the ride to learn more about how to do this if the time ever comes.

Drywall over paneling

Dad had been thinking about this for a while, so he already had all of the supplies on hand (plus a few that he had me bring over from my house, like my nifty drywall sander). Having never installed drywall before (only doing skim coats on it), I looked through a few tutorials first (these tips from Our Home from Scratch could not have been better timed). So Saturday afternoon, we got to work carefully tearing all of the trim down and putting the first few full panels up. All in all, things went surprisingly smooth, pun intended (and I’m hoping those aren’t famous last words). By Sunday evening, the entire room was finished:

Drywall over paneling

Considering the lack of extra hands, I have only the finished results so far to show ya (I’ll ask Mom to dig up some old pictures of the paneling too). But because it already took up the entire weekend, I wanted to share you where we stopped. We didn’t really have a lot of success with sinking all of our screws into studs like I’d hoped (the goal was, since it was just us two, to get the panels up with a few strategically placed screws, then do the proper screw-sinking after), so Dad’s planning on cleaning that up a bit before we tackle taping and such next weekend (which I’m a LOT more confident that I know how to do; smooth finishes are just my thing).

Drywall corner

As for trim, we’re planning on keeping the existing crown (this is the only room in the main part of the house with it, so we’re not worried about a domino effect on other rooms) and then replacing the entire bottom with a more modern panel look:  Shaker-style wainscoting. I can’t wait to see it all come together; I’m really pretty excited to learn something new & see my parents get rid of this paneling (after all, it’s been a part of the first house I ever lived in for as long as I can remember; so if anything, seeing this finally updated is an even bigger change than my house that I’ve only lived in for four years).

It’s amazing what kind of changes can happen in a single room over a weekend’s time, isn’t it? And despite everything going on with my house, I can’t forget that its progress came with a lot of extra helping hands. So when Dad decides he needs my help instead of the other way around, there’s no such thing as too busy. This room is going to look amazing, and I’ll be sure to share this little project with you over the next few weeks!

UPDATE: Mom sent some pictures of how it looked waaaaaaay back, before it was painted, and how it looked just before we started putting the drywall up. And yes, that’s me in the first picture. With blond hair and the absolute worst jeans I’ve ever seen (to me it looks like that pic was Photoshopped from two differently-sized people). I really hope I burned those.

Dining room with paneling

Finished drywall in dining room

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  1. while we kept our 3/4″ thick random-width wood paneling, painting a lovely cream … creme? … anyway – think this is a pretty intelligent way to deal, for those that just can’t deal … with the wood paneling thang. cheers.

  2. The walls looks great! Thanks for the mention. Glad my post helped. Good luck with the joint compound.

  3. I need to have this done At my patents home and scape the popcorn ceilings. Had no idea it was that easy! I think a local handyman could do it vs. the contractor I thought I’d need to hire,

  4. I have a question for you. My living room has real wood in it, including the ceiling. I want to paint it because the wood has cracks in it and also has grooves in each piece. My question is what would I need to do to get it prepared in order to paint It? It has a gloss to it so I’m not sure what I need to do to paint it, any help would be awesome!? I don’t want to tear it out but I would love to paint it and have some color in her, it’s also in my kitchen and want to paint it as well. I’d really appreciate your input. Thank you:)

    1. Does the wood have knots? That would be something to research on. From what I understand, not all primers can cover them well. I don’t personally have any experience with it (my parents did it a long time ago but I didn’t like the paint results). So I’ll send you to the gurus John and Sherry, who DID paint theirs and have details about it here: https://www.younghouselove.com/2009/08/how-to-paint-wood-paneling/

      Good luck!

  5. Question: We are thinking about putting drywall up over a room that is still paneling. How did you install around windows and doors where there is trim?

    1. We basically left trim up and just dealt with a shallower depth of the trim. The trim in the room was thick enough that it still left a distinction between the two, and areas where we thought it might be more noticeable (baseboard and crown) we installed over the new drywall.