How do you remove wallpaper from paneling?

Answered by Jeffrey Anderson ~ March 2, 2013 ~ No Comments

My father is getting ready to remove wallpaper from wood paneling. He would like the best method to remove the paper without raising the grain on the paneling. He plans to paint afterwards and does not want the grain texture to show through the paint.

Jeffrey Anderson

Removing wallpaper from prefinished wood paneling is often easier than from sheetrock. There is a paper on the surface of sheetrock that can be easily torn if the person removing the wallpaper isn't careful.

However, before going to the trouble of removing the wallpaper, your father might want to give some thought to just taking the paneling down. Prefinished wood paneling often doesn't take paint very well and if it was applied in 4-by-8 foot sheets, it should be very easy to remove. There might be sheetrock behind the paneling and even if there's not, putting in ½-inch boards isn't very difficult. Sheetrock normally provides a much better foundation for paint than prefinished wood paneling.

However, if your father wants to leave the paneling in place, that finish on the wood should protect the grain when removing the wallpaper. It can also create a situation where the actual paper can just be peeled off, but the glue can be another matter.

Many people recommend steam or hot water to remove wallpaper adhesive, but I would be concerned about the effect it might have on the paneling's finish and ultimately the wood's grain. My suggestion would be to try one of the compounds specifically made to remove the glue -- they should be available at most paint supply and home improvement stores. I would use a plastic rather than a metal putty knife for the procedure as it should be less likely to damage the wood's surface.

The biggest problem may be removing the adhesive from the grooves in the paneling. Rolling some very fine sandpaper around the end of a Phillip's head screwdriver might help with that task.

I have a feeling that once your father gets into the job, just taking down the paneling and installing sheetrock will begin sounding very attractive. If he purchases the adhesive remover at a paint store, asking the salespeople for additional tips might be a good idea -- many of the people who work in those types of establishments have years of experience and are very knowledgeable.

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