The Dreaded Painted Paneling

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bamalama
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The Dreaded Painted Paneling

Postby bamalama » Fri Jun 17, 2011 3:48 pm

Hi all,

My c1955 house is what you might charitably call "undistinguished," so I'm always trying to emphasize the MCM vibe. The house seems to have been finished by inept handyman types whose motto was "Why scrimp when you can cheap out?" When I moved in fourteen years ago, I wasn't so smart. It shames me to admit that I... I... painted the living room paneling. Under the spell of Jocasta Innes, I first applied gesso and then painted a coat of sage green over the lot. Now, of course, I'm kicking myself. So my question is- should I try to remove the paint and refinish the paneling, or should I go the grasscloth route? Some issues to consider:
1. We removed some DIY light fixtures and a butt-ugly built in cabinet which they somehow managed to build through the wall to the kitchen, so there are now several areas of drywall dotted around the room. However, it's primarily on what could be called an "accent" wall, so I was thinking I could refinish the paneling on the other three walls and have grasscloth on the accent wall.
2. Since builder never met a penny he couldn't pinch, the paneling probably isn't very high quality. However, the exterior siding is redwood- we live in Ca., so it's possible that redwood was affordable then...
3. My husband (who hasn't partaken of the MCM kool-aid) innocently asked "Wouldn't it be kind of dark in here with paneling?" (We weren't married when I bought the house.) I restrained myself from clobbering him and/or collapsing in heap, sobbing. (I *really* regret painting the paneling! Really, really, really! Regret!)
4. I've got time, not money, so I'd be doing everything myself.

Here's a picture of the unpainted paneling, which is lurking within a wall of built-in shelving:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/24900473@N08/5843876270/
Can you tell what kind of wood that is? I like the color very much (kick, kick, kick).

I read through drsiebling's "In Over My Head" thread from 2007 many times, hoping to divine an answer. In his house, the chore of stripping the paint was well worth it, because his woodwork is so fabulous- but I don't think that's going to be the case with my place.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions/advice!

Jean

egads
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Postby egads » Fri Jun 17, 2011 7:51 pm

Looks like cheap (at the time) mahogany. Here's the problem with that: its surface has probably soaked up the gesso & paint and will be very difficult to get all the paint off. But it is worth a try. Perhaps there was enough existing clear finish to have prevented that. Do a section and see if you like the results. If not, you can still do grasscloth. Wood and grasscloth I wouldn't do. Too much. Like your DH, I think a lot of wood would be too dark. In an Eichler or a Cliff May the paneled wall would have been a feature wall and never the whole room. I those spaces, with walls of glass it is not dark. If your room has regular windows I don't think all paneled walls would pump up the MCM. Paneling all the walls was done to make modern more palatable to buyers. It ends up being cabin or den like.

Are there vertical lines in the paneling?

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Postby bamalama » Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:31 pm

Thanks, egads! We've got something close to a wall of windows on the longest wall- three plate glass panels, approx. 4' by 6'. They face East- the room doesn't get a lot of afternoon sun. The windows flank a 10' wide floor to ceiling rock fireplace and hearth, so there is a lot goin' on on that side of the room. The paneling doesn't have any grooves- panels are 4' wide.

I'm very happy that you don't think painting the paneling eliminated the MCM vibe!

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Postby redneckmodern » Sat Jun 18, 2011 8:33 am

egads is right -- it's luan/mahagony. ironically, now some of the cheapest /and/ most expensive material. and he's right about the outcome: unlikely successful, but might as well try. however, if you do strip, please be /very/ careful with chemical stripper. my wife calls me crazy, but i peg her two bouts with breast cancer within a 6mo period (triple negative, under 40 with with no family history) to a very intimate experience with MEK stripper during our renovation. that sh!t is t.o.x.i.c...

what i mean by the inexpensive/expensive part is this: you can go to your local home-store and find thin luan plywood quite inexpensively. however, the quality is dodgy and there are a lot of fillers and "footballs"... but if you search, you might find a half-dozen sheets to fit your needs.

you can also go to a local high-quality lumber yard (macbeath in berkeley, for instance) and pick up new, high quality mahogany or "meranti" paneling at about $100/sheet. many eichler owners have to go with the meranti as opposed to mahogany as our walls are 10feet in some places. if you have 8foot walls, your options open quite a bit more -- you could even use a lighter wood like birch.

if you put up new paneling, use these to help locate your electrical boxes. best things ever: http://www.blindmark.com/Merchant2/merc ... e_Code=CBI

"In an Eichler or a Cliff May the paneled wall would have been a feature wall and never the whole room."

speaking from an eichler POV, most pre-1960's eichlers were actually 100% paneled -- even in the bedrooms. the 60s brought new codes that prohibited this in the BRs, but in my tract, the flat-roofed models have all 3 walls in the LR and DR clad in paneling (the 4th wall being glass).

from a modern POV, this does indeed seem dark and the use of a wood (or grasscloth) wall as an accent is generally more desirable (with light-painted adjacent walls). in our own eichler, we even removed most of the flat paneling and went with drywall for safety and ease of installation and relied on the use if exterior siding on the inside (unique to some models) to add that "pop".

good luck... and hint: add more pictures to help folks get a sense of your project

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Postby bamalama » Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:55 pm

Such helpful replies, thanks redneckmodern!

Here are some images-
Image

Windows are actually about 3.5" by 6".
These are larger, so I'll just link them:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/24900473@N08/5846937958/in/photostream
http://www.flickr.com/photos/24900473@N08/5846937658/in/photostream/
The fireplace surround and hearth is 8' long. (Sorry about the clutter inside and out! Not to mention the cliched Poang. But we love that Poang, darn it.)
It's not a huge room, the dining area (where the windows are) is about 13' deep.
The living room area (across from the fireplace) is L-shaped, and the L area juts back about 4'.
The fireplace insert typifies the mindset of the original owners (bless them). I imagine that the edges of the insert are meant to go behind the rock, right?
You shouldn't be seeing those sharp corners? But hey- why be a perfectionist? Sounds like an awful lot of bother and expense.

Imagine people with that approach to finish work guiding decisions throughout the house... sigh.[img]π[/img]
Last edited by bamalama on Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:48 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby bamalama » Sat Jun 18, 2011 7:04 pm

Updating this- I don't know why the BB code is such a struggle for me now!
Aha! I just found a Polaroid of paneling (and a very cute boy who is now a senior in high school). This is the L across from the fireplace- a wall of built-in shelves and storage cabinets.
Sculpted beige carpeting- I don't miss that.
Image
paneling and a sweet boy by jeanlass, on Flickr
I don't remember it being *that* dark, somehow!
Last edited by bamalama on Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

egads
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Postby egads » Sat Jun 18, 2011 9:52 pm

Hey, that Poang is comfortable and way more affordable than an Eames lounge chair. And clutter is why there are not photos of my house around here. My daughter and grandson have moved in with us. Need I say more? (and she brought a Poang that does not even have a leather cover)

I would say the fireplace thing is an insert and was probably not original. It may have been put there to solve a problem or just to get more heat out of burning wood. My MCM fireplace does not put out much heat. Inserts are also used because fireplaces smoke or the chimney needs a liner. Dealing with that could be as easy as removing it, but I would strongly recommend a professional, on site opinion.

MEK is the devil, causes cancer and professional use requires specific personal protection. I might suggest seeing if Franmar chemical (the makers of Bean-E-Do mastic remover) has some kind of soybean based stripper. I have had good luck with the citrus based stuff (Mosbergers?) that I got at Home Depot. But I was only using it on small areas, like the door thresholds and other paint dripped hardware.

I guess I have never seen older Eicklers. I have only seen the ones with a paneled accent wall. My Cliff May has all of its original birch paneling. That is only a couple of walls and a hall ceiling. After 50 years it's pretty dark. But my house can be so sunny you have to close the blinds to use a computer.

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Postby bamalama » Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:35 pm

Egads, the fireplace insert is a relatively recent addition- probably from the early 90s or late 80s. We love it in the colder months, so it's not something we want to get rid of now... it's just so emblematic of our haphazardly-put-together-and-maintained house. (I'm sure it would have been a pain to take out and reinstall the "cultured" rock around the insert, but honestly!) Thanks to you both for the warnings about strippers. I bought some Citristrip for the test section... it looks benign.
I'm thinking about investing in a Paintshaver or Heat-n-strip:
http://www.paintshaver.com/paintshaver.html
http://www.paintshaver.com/heat-n-strip.html
I'll be working on the exterior of the house this summer. The tools seem like they'd probably be overkill for the paneling, however!
redneckmodern, I started reading your blog and it's incredibly inspiring- so glad you include the link in your sig line!

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Postby bamalama » Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:53 pm

[quote="bamalama"]Such helpful replies, thanks redneckmodern!

Here are some images-
[url]
https://flic.kr/p/9UF5X9[/url]
Windows are actually about 3.5" by 6".
These are larger, so I'll just link them:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/24900473@N08/5846937958/in/photostream
http://www.flickr.com/photos/24900473@N08/5846937658/in/photostream/
The fireplace surround and hearth is 8' long. (Sorry about the clutter inside and out! Not to mention the cliched Poang. But we love that Poang, darn it.)
It's not a huge room, the dining area (where the windows are) is about 13' deep.
The living room area (across from the fireplace) is L-shaped, and the L area juts back about 4'.
The fireplace insert typifies the mindset of the original owners (bless them). I imagine that the edges of the insert are meant to go behind the rock, right?
You shouldn't be seeing those sharp corners? But hey- why be a perfectionist? Sounds like an awful lot of bother and expense.

Imagine people with that approach to finish work guiding decisions throughout the house... sigh.[/url]

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bamalama
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Update on the Dreaded Painted Paneling

Postby bamalama » Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:04 am

The story so far: Seventeen years ago, some idiot (me) painted the paneling in our living/dining room. I've thought about restoring the paneling for ages, and posted some questions here a few years ago. (Yes, years! My family is very patient about living amidst "works in progress.") I'm finally going all in. Earlier attempts at paint removal involved Citristrip, hours of scraping and tears. This time, I used a tip I found somewhere on the Interwebs: apply the Citristip, cover with some waxed paper or plastic, leave overnight. Success at last! The Jocasta Innes-inspired paint effects peel off with very little effort-- sometimes large sections peel off with the paper, which is *very* satisfying! (Reminds me of when we'd cover our fingertips with a thin layer of Elmer's Glue and peel it off to see our fingerprints.)
Image
I'll link some before and after pictures when the project is done.
The original finish looks great to me, just needs a little help-- I'm thinking some Danish Oil or Feed-n-Wax would spiff it up nicely.

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Postby egads » Wed Apr 09, 2014 7:23 pm

Aren't you glad you did such crappy prep many years ago? Believe me, it you had painted the paneling right it would not be coming off in sheets. Looks good!

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Postby bamalama » Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:00 pm

:wink: I would counter that I *was* doing it right, according to Jocasta Innes! http://books.google.com/books?id=e742Wqb_UBEC&lpg=PA156&vq=gesso&pg=PA15#v=snippet&q=gesso&f=false
I'm just grateful that, as an anglophile, I was in thrall to her paint effects siren song and immune to following directions from the web. I groaned when I noticed that, even when I searched "removing paint from paneling," my Google results always included "how to paint that unsightly paneling" pages.
I wonder if Citrisolve's formula has changed in the last couple of years? When I first posted, the Citrisolve I was using was bright orange-- now it has a more opaque, almost milky look to it.


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