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Refinishing the wood paneling

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Joined: Apr 29 2003

We're one of the lucky couples to have the original wood paneling in our Eichler. Unfortunately the previous owners coated the wood (without cleaning & prepping I might add) with varnish. I 'd like to remove this by either sanding or chemical stripping and then refinish the wood with the original oil (?) finish. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks!

Jenn

Jenn Gray

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Joined: Mar 28 2003

As Dr. Edell would say "Oh boy".

The worse case scenario first: having just replaced an entire Eichler's Luan paneling because the previous owner painted "everything", I can tell you that it was a lot of work, but easier than sanding or stripping the old stuff. You should know that the veneer on the paneling is between paper-thin and cereal-box-chipboard thin, so sanding is not really advised because it is very easy to go through the veneer. Stripping is out of the question because you will never get it evenly stripped.

The best case scenario might be to try one of those all in one refinishing products that loosens the old stuff while incorporationg it into a new finish. Formby's has one (formbys.com), but I have never used it. it could either work, or create a big mess--test it on a piece of paneling in the closet (assuming the varnish is there, too). You also might find that a new coat of varnish will improve the looks as well. It's a shame that the paneling was monkeyed with in the first place, but maybe they were trying to cover up scratches and wear that have accumulated over the years--which is another reason I decided to replace--underneathe the paint I could tell that the paneling had been abused from years of moving furniture around and kids . 1/4" luan paneling is cheap--about $13 for a 4 x 8 and $20 for a 4 x 10 (yes, it is still available).

I stained my new paneling with a mixture of different Cabot stains and even some white paint to duplicate the original 1955 stain, and finished it with two coats of Minwax Polycrylic and it is beautiful! It perfectly matches the interior of the closets which they were too lazy to paint.

Dane Henas

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

I got a painter who was also a stainer. he just scraped and sanded all the finish off and bleached the wood. The restain was marvelous. That veneer isn't as thin as people think, but test in closets are always a good idea to do first!

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

I have to second Cindy. The veneer is quite solid. Of course, do NEVER use a belt sander on the paneling. Any oscillating sheet sander will do a good job. I tested it with 60 grain paper on a leftover piece and it took more than 2 minutes of constant sanding on one spot to sand through the veneer. I would still recommend to use 100 or 150 grain paper.

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Joined: Mar 28 2003

My Eichler is in Sacramento--maybe they used different paneling here, but the veneer is pretty thin. I was sanding a small piece that I didn't want to replace above the kitchen cabinets, and It started de-laminating. The Luan paneling I replaced it with is better.

I still think it's gotta be cheaper to just replace the stuff rather than sand it or strip it. 4x8s cost about $11 a sheet, and 4x10s about $15 a sheet. What does a painter charge per hour and how long does it take to strip or sand a 4x8 panel? Plus it's not as messy or toxic. To do it right, you still should remove the base boards and trim--so that's the same. Plus you can put some insulation between the studs, or run some speaker wire or add an outlet while you're at it.

Dane Henas

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

yes dane you are probably right--if you replace all of your siding. The luan siding cannot be matched in color or grain by any means to the original walls. it was not cheap to redo ours. If we had replaced all of the walls it would have matched way better to our new luan interior doors. However, I must say that even with the stripping of the wood, the new stain seemed to penetrate and look much deeper and richer with the old walls than the stained new luan doors (though I don't know how or why). It is not a huge deal except for places in your house where the door is flush to the wall and does not sit in (our pantry is an example and is way more noticeable--so much that we opted to keep the older door there). Also, you don't necessarily have to remove the base boarding if you are stripping...and you risk breaking pieces if you remove the baseboard to install new veneer---and that baseboard is expensive!!! I know because i replaced all of ours.

Essentially, Dane is right. it would be less expensive to replace all of the veneer. However, it will not match your existing baseboards or doors.

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Joined: Apr 29 2003

Hey Everyone,

Thanks so much for all the input. I think I'm going to experiment on an area where the paneling needs replacing anywayand see what works (the former owners had a problem with the washer overflowing frequently and as a result several of the panels have a lot of water damage at the bottom).

It's good to know Dane that the paneling is relatively inexpensive, though I'm not sure I'd want to go to the extent of replacing all of it (My husband is counting how many panels we have as I write...he's all for replacing them). It does make me think twice about what I was going to do in the Laundry/Hobby room now, as I was thinking of replacing this damaged paneling with drywall. :) Where would I find the paneling? Is it something I can order through Home Depot?

Another question that my husband just thought of...where would I find the rounded trim pieces that are on the corners and around the door frame?

Jenn

Jenn Gray

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

Jennifer--where are you located in TO? We just moved here in April. We are on Fordham.

Our carpenter was able to get the 1/4" quarterround trip from a place called Superior moulding (?) in Van Nuys, but I'm not sure if they still carry it. I've been told that it's also available at the Home Depot in Northridge. There's also a place near superior moulding that has it but i forget the name... It comes in philipine mahogany. The 1/4" quarterround is about 1mm" (if that) larger than the old stuff so it is a tiny bit noticeable if you just replace the broken parts. However, we bought ours in 16' lengths and they all split when our carpenter tried to nail them in. If you replace the whole length maybe you may have to just glue them in?

A neighbor told me that the luan paneling can be bought at home depot in standard lengths of 8'. Terry Lumber in Simi does not have them, but I think the home depot in Northridge also has the paneling.

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Joined: Apr 29 2003

Hi Cindy,

I think you and my husband (Kevin) have been going back and forth on roofing. :-) He's been dealing more with the outside engineering of our house and I've been thinking more in terms of the interior, paneling and flooring (we've got hideous tile and I want give a try at installing cork myself).

Thanks for the advice! I'll check with Home Depot for the paneling and see if that place in Van Nuys still caries the trim.

We need to get together since we only live down the street from each other!

Jenn

Jenn Gray

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