What's your favorite thing to do with wood paneling?

13 Replies

Here's the scoop.  Considering an off market 2/1 single family home.  Solid C neighborhood.  Will rent $700-750 after rehab.  It's straight out of the 60s.  Lot's of wood paneling.  The options I'm familiar with thus far:

  1. Remove and install normal drywall
  2. Install 1/4" drywall over the wood paneling
  3. Paint paneling
  4. Leave as is

In my experience if the place looks "new" I'll get more in rent.  Thinking I want to just paint the paneling.  

Other downsides to this deal....panel is original 70 amp, and the furnace and AC are ancient.  This house is in Missouri.

@Pat Jackson Ohh I know this game all too well! 😁 I think 8 of my 9 properties have paneling in them somewhere. I’ve found that painting them works very well. Especially if you are in a market that paneling is he norm. My competition typically just leaving it in its original state. If you do paint, be sure to use a high quality primer first, then a high quality paint. If not, it’ll be peeling within a year. On my last Reno, we actually left the brown paneling, and instead put in a white oak vinyln floor. The bright floor lightened up the room and the paneling actually looked fine.

Hey @Pat Jackson !

I've skim coated the grooves in paneling with joint compound prior to paint to give it a smooth drywall appearance. Depending on the situation that might be a quicker and easier than ripping it out and certainly cheaper than covering it with drywall.

Originally posted by @Mike Dorneman :
@Pat Jackson Ohh I know this game all too well! 😁 I think 8 of my 9 properties have paneling in them somewhere. I’ve found that painting them works very well. Especially if you are in a market that paneling is he norm. My competition typically just leaving it in its original state. If you do paint, be sure to use a high quality primer first, then a high quality paint. If not, it’ll be peeling within a year. On my last Reno, we actually left the brown paneling, and instead put in a white oak vinyln floor. The bright floor lightened up the room and the paneling actually looked fine.

 Do you have a picture of the white oak flooring with brown paneling? A lot of older properties in my area have the paneling, which I normally stay clear from since it'll cost more to take em out and drywall than I would like it too. 

With a 70 amp panel, I wouldn't be surprised if you have outdated wiring. Maybe knob and tube or ungrounded. Those are common partners of wood paneling in my market. Something to look out for.

You probably know this already but just for the sake of anyone reading this thread who doesn't... regarding electrical: that 70A panel will need to be replaced, especially if it's Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) , Zinsco, GTE-Sylvania, Westinghouse, or contains any stab-loc breakers (usually with with red stickers) which fail to trip and are prone to starting fires. 70A is not enough for modern power consumption as it is, 100A is now the minimum per code, or even better upgrade to 150A or even 200A service since you have AC. Price should be in the $1,500-$2,500 range for the main service change. Probably worth having a master electrician check all the electrical including outlets and wiring, as there's a good chance you could be looking at rewiring the whole house if it has aluminum wiring, knob and tube, a fuse box, ungrounded outlets, or any other dangerous outdated stuff.  

@Pat Jackson I just dealt with this. You can’t just paint it or it will look like a turd with the creases. So without drmo and drywall you can spray texture to eliminate the panel creasing then paint. Will look better by far than just paint and not much extra expense
@Steve K. There really no reason he should have to rewire that house. Also out of those three companies in FedPac made defective breakers, the others are just outdated. A panel change takes a competent electrician 6 hours or less, a panel breaker combo box from square D, Eaton or Siemens is about $250. So unless you think $200 an hour is a bargain I’d look at finding a self-emoloyef electrician at about 1k

@Pat Jackson the challenge is with a C property that only rents for $700, you really need to keep your rehab costs as low as possible. For that reason, I would paint since it is the lowest cost option. I have painted wood panel and it looks great. I didn't even skim the grooves or anything.

It is probably good to install standard 200 amp service in the property, but that could cost you some money. 

@Steve B. , the costs for the electric service aren't just a panel change. The service wire coming down the side of the house and meter base would also need to be changed. A typical cost in my area for a new 100 amp service and panel install would be $1500 and for a 200 amp service $2000.

@Pat Jackson , with the paneling I might take an incremental approach. The biggest impact IMO would be to upgrade the public areas of the home. So, I might get the living room, kitchen, bathroom done with drywall. In the other areas like bedrooms, I might paint them with the intent to upgrade to drywall a room at a time whenever I have a tenant turnover.

@Kevin Sobilo not really.  I just had a electrical service panel and mast change, the meter and was fine so he refunded $100 for not having to change those.  Dropping the main was trivial.  The electrician completed everything in 8 hours.  He was the cheapest of the 4 I spoke with but it was still $150 an hour if I include drive time.  Others were $200-$250 an hour.  Not sure where you are getting your info and disagreeing with me

@Steve B. , this is a 60 or 70 amp service so upgrading would always require a new meter base and service wire because the gauge of the wire for a 100 or 200 amp service would be larger.

I have had a couple of these upgrades done and also been involved with clients who did as well. Since this is a limited scope task it was always bid as a fixed price not time (hourly rate) and materials. Of course these prices can certainly vary somewhat from region to region.