4x8 sheets of paneling are a quick way to repair or dress up walls. Panels expand and contract with changes in humidity, so they need time acclimate and acquire the same moisture content as the room. Stack them on the floor with spacers in between. After 72 hours, you can start nailing. It is good to first arrange the panels around the room by grain and color. Remove the baseboard before you start. Reapply it and add molding at the ceiling when you're done paneling.
- FIND THE STUDS
- PLACE FIRST PANEL AGAINST WALL IN CORNER
- SET COMPASS TO DISTANCE OF LARGEST GAP
- CUT ALONG THE LINE WITH A SABER SAW
- CUT SCRIBED LINE TO FIT
- PAINT WALL BEHIND SEAM BETWEEN PANELS
- SECURE PANELS IN PLACE
- ENSURE THAT PANEL ON WALL IS PLUMB
- MEASURE AND MARK OUTLETS
- MAKE HOLES FOR OUTLETS
- REMOVE OUTLET PANELS
- TRIM PANELS AROUND DOORS/WINDOWS
- SET BLADE TO CUT PANELS
FIND THE STUDS
Find the studs. Studs are usually spaced 16 inches from center to center, so measure over from the corner to find the first one. Pinpoint its location with a stud finder or by driving nails through the wall until you hit something solid, then mark it. Measure over to find the next stud; pinpoint and mark it too. When you've found all the studs, snap vertical chalk lines along the center of each.
PLACE FIRST PANEL AGAINST WALL IN CORNER
Put the first panel against the wall in the corner. Have a helper check with a level and help you hold the panel plumb. If any gaps greater than 1/4 inch occur between the wall and panel, you'll have to cut the contour of the wall into the panel by scribing. Paneling on the adjacent wall will cover any smaller gaps.
SET COMPASS TO DISTANCE OF LARGEST GAP
To scribe a panel, set a compass to a distance equal to the largest gap. Trace along the wall with the pointed end of the compass while drawing a line on the panel with the compass pencil.
CUT ALONG THE LINE WITH A SABER SAW
Cut along the line with a saber saw. Most saber saw blades cut on the upstroke, which can splinter the panel, so use a blade designed for plastic laminates that cuts on the downstroke. Put the panel back on the wall to see how it fits. Use a fine-tooth file to make any minor adjustments.
CUT SCRIBED LINE TO FIT
After you've cut the scribed line, check the fit. If the unscribed edge is not centered over a stud to allow for nailing, cut it to fit. Measure and mark the cut on the back of the panel to minimize splintering. Make the cut with a circular saw equipped with a fine-tooth panel-cutting blade and a straightedge. Allow for expansion by leaving a 1/4-inch gap at both the ceiling and floor. You may have to cut the panel to allow for the gap.
PAINT WALL BEHIND SEAM BETWEEN PANELS
Panels expand and contract with changes in humidity. To cover gaps that may appear, paint the wall behind the seam between panels with a strip of color that matches the grooves in the panel. To allow for expansion, use quarters on edge as spacers between panels when putting them up.
SECURE PANELS IN PLACE
Panels must be held in place by both nails and construction adhesive. Run adhesive in a zigzag pattern between the studs and around the perimeter on the back of the panels as well.
ENSURE THAT PANEL ON WALL IS PLUMB
Put the panel on the wall and double-check to make sure it's plumb. Nail it to the wall with 1 1/2-inch paneling nails colored to match the paneling. Space the nails 6 inches apart along the panel edges. Space them 12 inches apart on the studs in between. Hang the remaining panels the same way, using quarters as spacers to create a gap between them.
MEASURE AND MARK OUTLETS
When you come to an outlet, hold the panel next to it, and mark the panel at the outlet box's upper and lower edge. Snap a line at each mark across the face of the board. Then measure the distance between the outlet and the last panel you installed. Measure this distance along each chalk line, and make a mark. Repeat for the other side of the outlet. Connect the marks to outline the outlet.
MAKE HOLES FOR OUTLETS
To cut out for the outlet, drill a 1/2-inch-diameter hole at each corner of the outline. Slip a plastic laminate blade mounted on a saber saw through one of the holes. Cut along the lines to remove the waste.
REMOVE OUTLET PANELS
Turn off the power and unscrew the outlet from its box, but not from its wires. Feed the outlet through the opening in the panel, and glue and nail the panel to the wall. Reattach the outlet. Before you tighten the screws, slip an extension ring over the outlet. Required by the fire code, this keeps the outlet flush with the paneling.
TRIM PANELS AROUND DOORS/WINDOWS
At doors and windows trim the panel so the seam is midway over the opening. Then lay out the window cut the same way you laid out the outlet cuts. Make the cuts that begin at the edge of the panel first. Clamp the cutoff jig along the interior cut when you're done.
SET BLADE TO CUT PANELS
Set the blade to cut about 3/8 inch deep. Put the nose of the saw on the panel; hold the heel up so the blade clears the wood. Keep the side of the saw against the jig. Pull the guard back, start the saw, and gently lower the back onto the panel. Stop the cut 1/2 inch short of your earlier cut and finish by hand.
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Skill Level: Beginner
Time: 1 hour
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