Faux wood paneling, a thin plywood made from vinyl, wood particles, and polyurethane, got popular in the 1970's as an inexpensive alternative to real wood. Like many home décor fads, it didn't last long.
If you no longer find the retro walls 'groovy', you can still update them with paint, which is more cost-effective than replacement. Paint you faux wood panel walls by following this guide:
Prepare to Paint the Paneling
To paint the faux paneling, you need:
- work gloves
- dust mask
- eye goggles
- dish soap
- rags and towel
- plastic sheets or drop cloths
- painter's tape
- broad putty knife and a small putty knife
- 150-grit and 300-grit sandpaper or liquid sandpaper
- latex caulk or wood putty
- paint brushes and roller
- interior stain-blocking oil-based primer and interior latex paint
Remove shelving, pictures, and other removable items then lay drop cloths and plastic over the floor. Cover trim with painter's tape one-eighth inch over the ceiling and the baseboards, then cover outlets. Laying the tape in this manner is easier than trying to fit it into the grooves, and it gives you a clean paint edge.
Sand the Old Finish
Since faux wood is glossy, it needs sanding to remove the shine. Check for loose nails, and hammer them back in place. Mix several drops of dish soap mixed with warm water, scrub the walls with a rag or sponge, rinse, and use a towel to dry.
Fill holes and dings with wood putty or caulk using a small putty knife. Let the putty or caulk dry, sand lightly, and wipe with a damp rag.
To fill seams, scoop an inch thick amount of putty or caulk with the knife edge, and drag the knife along the seam slowly. Lay the flat side of the knife at the top of the seam and placing the handle at 45-degrees, and run it down the seam to smooth globs. Lightly sand with 150-grit sandpaper, and clean dust.
Lightly sand the repair area and clean with damp rag. To save time scrubbing, use liquid sandpaper available from hardware stores, or use a hand sander.
Prime and Paint
Stain-blocking paint prevents stains from showing through the paint and helps the paint stick better. Roll the primer on the paneling, using a paint brush to get into the seams and tight spaces, and let the primer dry. An angled brush provides more control than a straight-edge brush, but you may need a straight-edge brush to reach in the grooves
Roll on the paint in the same manner working up to the edge of the tape. Let the first layer of paint dry, and apply another coat. Contact a company like Klenosky Paint for more information and assistance.