Ugly, Old Paneling Cover-Up
 Maybe it's the surge of energy we feel in accordance with the flowers and trees all coming to life, but spring makes us want to give our homes an update. Home improvement is never wasted, especially when you can make a dramatic improvement for little investment.

Faux wood paneling is so 60's.. or 70's... or 80's but a lot of us still have it. It's a big job to rip it out- you just never know what you'll find underneath-  but I have an easy fix.

My farm house bedroom didn't always look this way (and in fact doesn't look this way now that I've added more cozy furnishings, but that's a story for another day.)

It started out like this.

I had removed the closet which left a hole in the ceiling. The floors were concrete and covered with cheap vinyl tiles which were also removed. And the walls were old, dingy paneling- not just one type pattern, but 3- a different style inside the closet, 1 on the majority of the walls and 1 other which I added to cover holes. What a hot mess!

The first challenge was to unify and beautify the walls which I did by painting 1 coat of an oil based primer and 2 coats of white, flat wall paint. I applied the paint with a roller, then brushed over it by hand to give a more dimensional finish. I didn't bother to paint up to the ceiling since I was going to add a wainscot effect to the top of the walls.

I'd been successful before, in my home kitchen, transforming paneling from old and tired to farm style and I did it with wall paper underlayment. The bottom of the paneling is painted to resemble tongue-and-groove boards and the top is covered in underlayment which dries so smooth it looks like sheetrock. Trimmed with crown molding on the top and cove molding on the bottom, it gives the illusion that the bottom paneling has been applied to a sheet rocked wall. This is a new version of wainscoting. 

Underlayment AVAILABLE HERE is a thick wall covering originally used to smooth out cinder block when painting a basement. The paper is thick, and when dry, spans cracks. It comes pre-pasted so it's an easy application- kind of like wall paper borders. If you haven't done pre-pasted paper before, CLICK HERE for an easy tutorial. I ran it on the horizontal and used the width of the paper to determine the height of my "chair rail".

Using a darker paint color on the top of the rail (in the case of my kitchen, a light gray)  and finishing with architectural moldings gives a professional and deliberate look. You can also wall paper over the underlayment for a totally different design influence- a floral paper would bring a more classical vibe, country pattern more country, etc.

I ordered enough underlayment so a continuous piece runs from corner to corner (no seams mid-wall) and painted the lower paneling before applying the underlayment. I used a level to pencil mark around the room so the bottom edge was straight even through my ceiling was a bit wavy. You have some play with this as moldings will be added later which cover the top and bottom edge of the underlayment.

Going from corner-to-corner in a 14' room and working with such a long piece of paper was a bit tricky because it is heavy and did want to come down before I got it level. I had chairs and ladders set up so I could jump from one to another AND in a few places I gave it a staple at the top to hold it in place while I smoothed it out. I figured molding would cover the staples later. I usually work on projects by myself so this was a handy solution. You've heard of the one-armed paper hanger?... Once you have the underlayment attached, let it dry over night before painting.

In the bedroom I used 1 x 4" pine boards as trim which were drilled out for wooden pegs to finish the bottom edge of the underlayment . It's a "farmy" finish and helpful for hanging bathrobes, purses and hats. Quarter-round was added in the corners above and below the trim pieces and painted to match the walls, covering the panel seams and making the corner moldings almost invisible.

It's a little job for such a big impression- totally do-able for one person and a cozy, comfortable decorating change.

Feel free to forward to a friend who likes home decorating, gardening and other DIY projects. Thank you!
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