Renew The Retro Wood Panelling Look

June 16th 2014
Renew The Retro Wood Panelling Look


Q: The family/recreation room in our home has old-fashioned wood panelling on the walls. We would like to keep the retro look. Is there something we can do to brighten it up?

A: Tired-looking wood panelling can be cleaned and brightened with a little ingenuity and elbow grease. Over time, the sun's ultra-violet rays beaming through unprotected windows will draw the natural oils and colour from wood fibres, leaving wood panelling faded and tired looking.

A tinted Carnauba-type paste wax will restore the wood's lustre and richness. Carnauba paste wax comes in a variety of colours, from dark brown to natural, including exotic shades of rich mahogany and teak.

Before applying any type of wax finish, thoroughly clean the panelling with a non-phosphate detergent. Rinse well with water and allow to dry.

Apply the wax using super-fine steel wool, rubbing with the grain from top to bottom doing half a panel at a time. Let sit for a minute and buff with a soft flannel cloth.

We have just purchased our first home. It is older and somewhat dated in some areas. There is a lot of vinyl and flocked wallpaper that we would like to get rid of. What can we do? Trying to remove heavy vinyl, foil or flocked wallpaper can be frustrating. But there is an easy remedy. Begin at the top and pull the face of the paper straight down at 180 degrees flat to the wall. Apply a wallpaper-removing solution to the back side, allowing it to migrate down between the wall and the paper. This will release the paper from the wall.

If the paper is the heavy vinyl or foil variety, you may need to use a wallpaper ripper device to score and perforate the paper vertically and horizontally. Apply the wallpaper-removing solution directly over the paper, allowing it to penetrate through the perforations, releasing the paper from the wall.

If you cannot find wallpaper solution, you can make a similar product by mixing one cup of fabric softener such as Fleecy or Downy to one litre of warm water. It works great! It's Just that Easy.

For more home-improvement information or to send Shell an email, go to and join Shell's House Smart Club.