Turning Paneling into Smoothwall: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to home renovation, one of the most common challenges homeowners face is dealing with outdated wood paneling. While it was once a popular design choice, many people now find it unappealing and want to update their walls to a more modern look. Fortunately, it’s possible to turn paneling into smooth wall with a few simple steps.

One of the key steps in this process is filling in the seams of the paneling. This can take some time, especially if you have a large area to cover, but the results are well worth it. By filling in the seams, you can create a smooth surface that looks just like drywall. From there, you can paint the walls any color you like, giving your home a fresh, updated look.

If you’re considering turning your paneling into smooth wall, you’ll be happy to know that it’s a relatively straightforward process. With a little bit of time and effort, you can transform your outdated walls into a modern, stylish space that you’ll love spending time in. In the following paragraphs, I’ll go over the steps involved in this process, as well as some tips and tricks to help you get the best results.

Understanding Paneling and Smoothwall


Types of Paneling

Paneling is a type of wall covering that is made up of panels or sheets of wood, vinyl, or other materials. There are several types of paneling, including:

  • Wood Paneling: This type of paneling is made up of real wood or wood veneers. It is often used in traditional or rustic settings.
  • Vinyl Paneling: This type of paneling is made up of vinyl sheets that mimic the look of wood or other materials. It is often used in modern or contemporary settings.
  • MDF Paneling: This type of paneling is made up of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and is often used in more affordable homes or apartments.

What is Smoothwall?

Smoothwall is a type of wall finish that is achieved by applying drywall compound or joint compound to the surface of paneling or other rough surfaces. This creates a smooth, seamless finish that is similar to traditional drywall.

To achieve a smoothwall finish, the paneling must be properly prepared by cleaning, sanding, and priming the surface. Then, a thin layer of drywall compound is applied to the surface using a trowel or putty knife. Once the compound has dried, it is sanded down to create a smooth, even surface. This process may need to be repeated several times to achieve the desired level of smoothness.

Smoothwall is a popular choice for homeowners who want to update the look of their paneling without the expense of removing and replacing it with drywall. It is also a great option for those who want to add texture or visual interest to their walls.

Necessary Tools and Materials

Choosing the Right Tools

As with any DIY project, having the right tools is essential to achieving a successful result. When turning paneling into smooth walls, there are a few tools that are necessary to have on hand.

Firstly, you will need a taping knife. This tool is used to apply joint compound to the seams of the paneling, smoothing them out and creating a flat surface. A 6-inch taping knife is a good size to start with, but you may need larger sizes depending on the size of the project.

A power sander is also a must-have tool for this project. It will help you smooth out any rough spots or uneven areas on the paneling, making it easier to apply the joint compound and achieve a flat surface. A palm sander is a good option for smaller projects, while a larger orbital sander is better for larger areas.

Lastly, a staple gun is necessary for attaching corner bead to the edges of the paneling. This will help create a clean, finished look and protect the edges from damage.

Materials Needed

In addition to the right tools, there are a few materials you will need to complete this project.

Firstly, joint compound is necessary for filling in the seams between the panels and creating a smooth surface. You can purchase pre-mixed joint compound or mix your own using drywall compound and water.

You will also need sandpaper to smooth out any rough spots on the paneling and joint compound. A fine-grit sandpaper, such as 220-grit, is ideal for this project.

Corner bead is another necessary material for this project. It is used to protect the edges of the paneling and create a finished look. You can purchase metal or plastic corner bead, depending on your preference.

Lastly, you will need primer and paint to finish the project. A high-quality primer will help the joint compound and paint adhere to the paneling, while a paint with a low sheen will help hide any imperfections in the surface.

Overall, having the right tools and materials is essential to achieving a successful result when turning paneling into smooth walls.

Step-by-Step Process


Removing Paneling

The first step in turning paneling into smoothwall is to remove the paneling. This can be a time-consuming process, but it is necessary to achieve a smooth, even surface. Start by removing any trim or molding around the edges of the paneling. Next, use a pry bar or hammer and chisel to carefully remove the paneling from the wall. Be sure to wear gloves and eye protection during this process, as it can be messy and dangerous.

Preparation for Smoothwall

Once the paneling has been removed, it’s time to prepare the wall for smoothwall. Start by filling in any gaps or holes in the wall with joint compound. Use a putty knife to apply the joint compound, and be sure to smooth it out evenly. Allow the joint compound to dry completely before sanding it down with sandpaper. Next, apply a coat of primer to the wall to ensure that the smoothwall will adhere properly.

Applying Smoothwall

Now it’s time to apply the smoothwall. There are a few different methods for applying smoothwall, but the most common is to use joint compound and a trowel. Start by mixing the joint compound according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Then, use a trowel to apply a thin layer of joint compound to the wall. Be sure to spread it out evenly and smoothly. Allow the joint compound to dry completely before sanding it down with sandpaper. Repeat this process until the wall is completely smooth and even.

In conclusion, turning paneling into smoothwall is a process that requires patience and attention to detail. By following these step-by-step instructions, you can achieve a beautiful, smooth surface that will be perfect for painting or wallpapering.

Post-Application Tips

After successfully turning paneling into smooth wall, there are a few post-application tips to keep in mind to ensure the longevity and safety of your newly updated walls.

Maintenance Advice

Maintaining your smooth walls is crucial to keep them looking fresh and new. Here are some tips to help you maintain your smooth walls:

  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials when cleaning your walls. Instead, use a soft cloth or sponge with mild soap and warm water.
  • Regularly dust your walls to prevent dirt and debris from accumulating on the surface.
  • If you notice any cracks or chips in your smooth walls, repair them as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

Safety Tips

While turning paneling into smooth wall is a relatively easy project, it’s important to take safety precautions to prevent any accidents or injuries. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Wear protective gear, such as gloves and safety glasses, when sanding or spackling your walls.
  • Use a dust mask to prevent inhaling any dust or debris while sanding.
  • Turn off the power to any electrical outlets or switches before working near them.
  • Keep children and pets away from the work area to prevent accidents.

By following these maintenance and safety tips, you can enjoy your newly updated smooth walls for years to come.

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