How to Install Plastic Wall Paneling

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Plastic wall paneling is a useful alternative to more traditional wood panels or wallpaper and paint coverings. Plastic panels install using many of the same methods used for wood paneling. Unlike wood panels, though, plastic panels are not susceptible to rotting, or warping in high-moisture areas. The plastic also creates an easy-to-clean surface, with colors that last years without fading. Quick installation involves mainly cutting the panels to fit, then screwing them into place. You can complete a room's installation in a single day, giving it a new look in a matter of hours.

Things You'll Need

  • Pry bar
  • J-trim
  • Tape measure
  • Table saw
  • Utility knife
  • Straight edge
  • Putty knife
  • Mason nails
  • Flat-head mason screws
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Drywall screws
  • Electrical box extenders
  • Remove existing trim or baseboard from the wall with a pry bar. Insert the tip of the pry bar beneath the end of the board where the first nail connects it to the wall, then apply pressure to pull the board and nail from the wall. Work your way down the board, pulling out each nail until the board is free. Remove electrical outlet covers with a screwdriver.

  • Measure the length of the wall, then cut J-trim with a table saw, using a fine-tooth saw blade to fit. Connect the trim to the wall, using masonry nails for masonry walls or screws for wood walls and a hammer or screwdriver, positioned every 18 inches along the trim length.

  • Measure the height of the wall with a tape measure and cut the bottom edges of the panels to fit, using the table saw. Cut the locations of any wall outlets into the trim, using a utility knife and straight edge to score the panel at the box location several times until you cut through the panel.

  • Slip the edges of the panels into the trim, using a putty knife to place the panels into the trim groove. Snap the edges of adjacent panels together, using the joining seams.

  • Secure the plastic panels to the walls with flat-head mason screws or drywall-screws placed every 18 inches along the nailing slots down the lengths of the panels. For stud walls, position the panels so that the nailing slots center along the wall studs. Locate the wall studs with a stud finder and mark the stud locations on the walls with chalk for easier positioning.

  • Install box extenders at the location of all electrical switches and plug boxes to extend the switch or plug to the new higher level of the wall. Pull the switch or plug through the box, then screw the box onto the existing outlet frame to add height. Screw the outlet and switch covers onto the new box extenders to place the outlets and switches even with the new panel surface.

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