I can’t even begin to count the number of houses we looked at that featured wood paneling. Every time Chris and I walked into one of these houses, all we could do was shudder. We vowed we would never waste our money on a house stuck in such a tacky decade (no offense to all the 70s babies out there). Imagine our surprise when the house we fell in love with happened to not only be one built in the 70s but also have a living room flanked with… you guessed it… wood paneling. Not only that, but this house had one of the biggest living rooms we looked at so there was A LOT of wood paneling. As naive as we are, we simply said, “no worries, we’ll just paint it.”
I would now like to take a moment of silence for the little piece of my soul that died the month in which Chris and I woke up, went to work, came home, painted, slept a minimal amount, woke up, went to work, came home, painted some more, made it to the weekend, woke up, painted, painted, and painted some more, slept a few hours, woke up, painted, painted…. well, you get the idea.
Here was the problem, as the paint sage at Home Depot soon explained to us:
1) Scrub scrub scrub. When painting old walls that haven’t been touched since being installed, you have to scrub the walls of all the junk that had built up over the years. “Uh, excuse me?” I asked. Mr. Paint nodded his head saying, “Yes, you wouldn’t believe how thick the layer of crud can be.” Fabulous.
2) Patience young grasshopper. Once the scrubbing is done, you have to wait for the walls to dry completely so the paint will adhere.
3) It’s all in the details. Let me also take this moment to explain that not only did we have wood paneling, but we had framed wood paneling with squares of trim littering the walls (I actually like the effect… but hate the work that went into painting it). Because of the trim work, we had to caulk each side of the trim. When the seasons change, the house shifts and if we didn’t caulk the trim, little pieces of wood paneling would begin to show. We would constantly be touching up. And you can guess how excited we were for the idea of that!
4) Prime time! After that, we could proceed with priming (with the lovely smelling oil-based primer… two coats since it was wood).
5) FINALLY! Only after that could we begin painting the room.
I can only imagine our befuddled expressions listening to the Home Depot employee explain the process to us. Chris and I looked at each other wondering if wood paneling was really that bad afterall. But, sadly, it was.
So, the long process began. We had just moved in and had agreed that the first project we took on would be painting the living room. If this wasn’t the most honest introduction to home ownership, I don’t know what is. But as all was said and done, we survived the nearly-coma-inducing paint fumes, Chris and I still liked each other (amazingly), and the house was now void of wood paneling.
I just hope I like a light blue living room until Chris and I move on to our next house because there’s no way we’re repainting. Ever.
Let me put it this way: wood paneling is so dated, even my grandparents have painted over theirs- well, most of it, anyway. In terms of aesthetics, the 70s didn’t have too many hits, not the least of which was wood paneling. Nothing darkens a room quite like wood paneling, and this room had a LOT of wood paneling.
Julie and I couldn’t stand this room; the walls looked more like portals to some unknown abyss than, well, walls. My parents, on the other hand, loved it. The first time they saw the house, they commented on the “beautiful” wood paneling. I told them all they had to do was pay to have the room drywalled and they could take that stupid paneling with them. They passed.
When it comes to painting, the end result is entirely dependent on the prep work, and wood paneling requires a disgusting amount of prep work- scrubbing, sanding, scrubbing, sanding, caulking, scrubbing, priming… and finally painting. By the way, I don’t recommend carrying out this task in Texas in the summer time, as you’ll want to open the windows- there was a cocktail of volatile chemicals involved that would make the bomb squad cringe, and it was beginning to take its toll. I thought that if I woke up to “let’s get started on painting the living room, Chris” one more time, I was just going to burn the house down and call it done.
Anyway, after the longest month of my life (and our marriage), every last inch of paneling had been eradicated and replaced with some sort of blue. When my parents came back for another visit, they responded with dismay, “Oh… you painted the paneling…” All I can say is, Thank God!
See below for before pictures (taken by sellers before we moved in), during pictures (as the primer went up), and after pictures. More pictures of the living room to come when we finally put the finishing touches on the room.