Mahogany paneled walls - how to?

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babyblue65bird
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Mahogany paneled walls - how to?

Postby babyblue65bird » Fri Feb 08, 2013 3:50 pm

In my continuing effort to bring my 1982 ranch house back in time about 25 years, I want to replace the bad 80s tile surrounding the fireplace with ledgestone and panel over the rest of the wall with Sapele (tiger stripe mahogany).

In pictures of Neutra houses and Eichler houses, there are vast expanses of smooth wood walls. I can get the Sapele veneer plywood from Northridge lumber in 1/4", 1/2", 3/4" thicknesses but am having trouble figuring out how to attach them to the wall so the joints aren't evident, and the method of attachment isn't apparent. The easy way out would be to use screws along the panel edges and cover the joints with a piece of 1/4"x2" hardwood.

My thought was to get the 3/4" thick plywood and use a router to make tongue-and-groove edges on adjacent panels and apply them to the drywall with construction adhesive. Perhaps then blind nail them throuhg to the studs. Has anyone been down this road? Any suggestions?
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johnnyapollo
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Postby johnnyapollo » Sat Feb 09, 2013 4:24 am

The traditional method on 1/4" plywood paneling is to use panel nails - these are long skinny nails with small heads and ridges on the shaft to prevent them from pulling out easy - they are usually painted to match the panel color. The surface friction of the lightweight panel transfers the weight to the studs, so they are more than strong enough to keep the panels in place. I wouldn't use adhesive - if you ever need to remove them you'll end up ripping them apart.

I've used panel nails before to re-hang existing, vintage paneling - they're actually a pain to use as they want to bend. You need to be careful and practice a bit before going down that path. Also, if you're hamfisted like me, using something to hold the nails, like needle-nose pliers (cover the metal with tape so you don't accidentally mar the wood) to get the nails going will take longer but potentially save the wood from scarring. Alternatively there's this thing called a brad setter that may work - looks like a screwdriver with a spring-loaded hole on the end. You insert the nail with the point out and push into the surface being nailed. They're made for brads when installing trim and if you're lucky, most of the nail will plunge into the wood. You also need to be careful with this as I have a tendency to push too hard- if the edge skids across the wood it's pretty ugly.

This newer plywood has very thin surface veneers so be very carful with it as it tears easly and there isn't much room to sand out mistakes - also - you can route the edges but you may get some ugly tear-out - I would experiment a bit.

I saw a fantastic paneled wall installation where the homeowner cut the panels into four-foot square panels with routed edges - looked fantastic. Good luck with these.

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egads
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Postby egads » Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:35 pm

I have an original wall of paneling in my 1954 rancho. The 4' wide sheets are nailed, about 12" on center vertically. The nail (brads really) are sunk slightly and a color matched filler is used. Always apply your finish and then fill to keep the filler from getting into the wood grain around the hole. The 1/4 panels are the only covering on that wall and they used strips of waste paneling to space them off the wall as the edges are exposed on each end in my case. They used a 1/4 round to finish the edge. Each panel is eased along the edges that join. I once put up some plain flat panels and tried to flush the edges and it was less than successful. To do that the panels must be aligned perfectly. Stud walls are rarely perfect. The slightly rounded edge hides that. I do mean slight, like lightly sanded, you cannot see the rounded edge unless you look close.
Keep in mind that this is related to shoji screens and, like grasscloth wall covering, it is supposed to look like panels. Therefore one needs to locate the existing studs and plan to have whole panels with cuts on each end rather than just starting on one end and working your way across.

You could use a construction adhesive, but I would only use small dots of it, not long beads for the reasons johnnyapollo cites. Also, adhesive will pull thin panels to the existing wall perhaps creating waves.

redneckmodern
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Postby redneckmodern » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:28 pm

the panelling in our eichler is thin -- 1/4in if i'm not mistaken -- and was hung with nails... and far less than you'd expect (about 12in spacing). you've got some good advice above. the only thing i would add would be to consider a pneumatic brad nailer and a touch of matching wood putty. as far as i recall, there was a teeny bit of putty over our original nails. you /will/ see seams — it's part of the look.

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babyblue65bird
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Postby babyblue65bird » Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:22 pm

Thanks for all of your suggestions! I think what I will do is cut the 4x8 sheets down to 3 feet wide so they don't look so much like 4x8 sheets of plywood on the wall, and lightly chamfer the edges. I'll use the 1x8 foot pieces to make a lighting valance.
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egads
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Postby egads » Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:04 pm

Well, I might suggest that you work with the existing stud spacing. Three foot sections will not line up with anything. 32" maybe. Just how wide are the spaces you need to cover? Find and mark the studs and decide how to space them that way. If you use 1/4" panels you will save enough to have some waste over trying to use 3/4 ones. Thicker panels are not necessary. But that depends on how the vertical ends are. Do they abut existing walls or will one or both ends show?

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babyblue65bird
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Postby babyblue65bird » Sun Mar 31, 2013 9:34 pm

SUCCESS!!

Thanks for all of your advice. The project came together better than I expected. My house is a 1982 ranch, a basic 3 bedroom shoebox, and it retains many of its builder-level 1982 finishes. The fireplace was particularly offensive; poorly proportioned and covered with cheap tile and a badly executed mantle built with off the shelf dimensional lumber and mouldings. Topped with a bronze smoked mirror and fake track lighting.


I wound up getting 4 sheets of 1/4" Sapele veneer that came from the same tree, with a striking grain pattern. Far West Plywood in Northridge had it for a great price. I used them full width, and I think the bookmatching helps hide the seams. I made sure the drywall underneath was as flat as I could make it and used an 18g brad nailer to nail the panels through the drywall into the studs. 12" nail spacing vertically, and of course 16" horizontally to line up with the studs. The only tricky one was the panel that encompasses the left corner of the fireplace; it took a fair bit of planing to get it to line up seamlessly in five directions - and in the end, the top edge was a bit crooked so I had to cover the whole top edge with a piece of 1/2" stop moulding.

The stonework is a product I found at Lowe's called "Airstone", which is a nicely engineered stone veneer. The pieces are very light and easy to apply with a tub of adhesive that comes from the same manufacturer. There are lots of different sizes and variations of color within each batch of stone, so it is easy to fit around obstructions while avoiding too much of a pattern-y look.

Here are some pictures, let me know what you think!

Before:
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Demolition:
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Airstone being applied to backerboards:
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Panels going up:
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Minwax Sedona Red stain and 2 coats of water based satin poly:
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Complete:
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With my furniture and a Nelson 18" bubble in place of the fake track lighting:

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