How to cut wood paneling

The living trend as wood panels from the 70s and 80s can still be found in countless houses and apartments. They are no longer suitable for modern interior design. In many cases, house and apartment owners only see the path of removal. This is not absolutely necessary, because with intelligent ideas old wooden ceilings can appear in a new splendor or be clad in a contemporary style.

Renovate panels

Before wooden ceilings are removed and / or given way for new ceiling cladding, many hobbyists decide to renovate the panels by painting and / or wallpapering. At first glance, painting appears to be the easiest option for a more modern ceiling design.

To brush

In order to be able to paint wooden ceilings, sanding down is essential. This becomes difficult at the edges as well as in the joints and furrows that can usually be found between the individual panels. An even sanding is necessary because otherwise there could be visible color differences. If dirt has settled in the wood paneling, it must be meticulously removed. Nicotine in particular has the property of shining through some colors. For this reason, proper preparatory work is essential and takes a lot of fine work and effort.

TIP: With a glaze paint you get the grain and give the original wood tone a new, fresh color. Wood varnish has a strong covering effect that prevents the grain from showing through.

  • Most inexpensive method
  • Can be implemented easily
  • Required material only sandpaper, paint / varnish, painting supplies, ladder
  • Ceiling color can be selected individually
  • Can be repainted at any time
  • Is easy to do yourself without extensive experience
  • The most meticulous work through small corners and edges
  • High expenditure of work and time
  • Risk of stains / dirt showing through
  • White wooden ceilings turn yellow quickly
  • Mostly unpleasant paint smell for weeks (especially with paintwork)


Wallpapering a panel made of wood is less common, but possible. Because of the overhead work, wallpapering a ceiling is generally difficult, so practice is beneficial. Before wallpapering, a smooth surface must be created from the wooden ceiling. This is achieved by filling out grooves and furrows. As a rule, sanding / sanding is necessary afterwards, because any unevenness of the applied filler is especially visible when the light from ceiling lamps shines on it.

Because wood soaks up moisture, a special primer is required to prevent the wallpaper paste from being absorbed into the wood. As a result, the wallpaper would not find a hold and would fall off. In any case, a high-performance paste must be used, so that the wallpaper remains sticky for a long time, especially after painting, despite its relatively high weight.

  • Countless design options
  • Can be adapted to changing furnishing styles at any time with one coat of paint (with the exception of textile wallpapers)
  • increased risk of detachment with higher room humidity
  • Not suitable for damp rooms such as bathrooms
  • Requires extensive preparatory work
  • Not every wallpaper is suitable
  • Wallpapering experience should be available for ceiling installation in order to be able to achieve a clean result
  • Almost every bump is visible

Clad the panels

Removing a wooden ceiling always involves a lot of dirt and work. Cladding wooden ceilings is a simpler option. You have various options for this.


It takes little time and money to clad wooden ceilings with styrofoam panels. These are available in different decors, which range from smooth surfaces to plaster optics to stucco decorations. They are simply attached to the wooden ceiling with a styrofoam adhesive. If edge strips made of styrofoam are attached, nothing can be seen of the wooden ceiling.

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy installation with little effort and time
  • Clean working
  • Styrofoam sheets can easily be cut to size
  • Are paintable
  • Also have a heat-insulating effect
  • Available in numerous decors
  • Typically coarse styrofoam structure in which dust settles quickly
  • Corners break quickly when adjusting / trimming
  • Without painting, they yellow / darken quickly
  • Dust settles in the fine bumps
  • Restoration of the wooden ceiling difficult or impossible due to the adhesive


One of the most common cladding methods is with so-called plasterboard. These are panels made from plasterboard. The assembly of plasterboard depends on how the wooden panels are attached.

Some panels only have grooves and tongues and are only screwed at the ends. If the panels were to be mounted directly on the panels, you run the risk that the wood paneling would not hold the weight and that everything would come off. If you know that the wooden panels are screwed onto a substructure at sufficient intervals, you can safely attach the plasterboard directly to it. Otherwise, you have the option of removing the wood paneling down to the sub-structure and then screwing the panels on, or you can put new battens on the wooden ceiling. This must be screwed into the ceiling concrete. A correspondingly long screw connection is required.

Once the plasterboard is in place, the board transitions must be plastered. After drying, a primer is usually applied. This is followed by wallpapering, plastering or painting.

  • Good alternative to normal concrete ceilings
  • Creates a straight ceiling surface
  • Recesses for ceiling lamps are easy and clean to cut out
  • Years of durability
  • Assembly requires manual skill
  • Attachment more complex and time-consuming
  • Only serves as a substrate - has to be painted, plastered or wallpapered
  • More material costs than painting or styrofoam cladding

Stretch ceilings

Stretch ceilings are one of the latest trends in the design of wooden ceilings. This is a kind of cloth / foil that is stretched under the wood paneling. Painted stretch ceilings are particularly popular. They reflect the light, ensure a higher level of brightness in rooms and look very classy. The installation is easy and they are more robust than the first glance suggests.

For assembly, special strips with a clamping function are attached / screwed to the wall edges. The cloth / foil can then be clamped and stretched piece by piece in the strips. With some designs, a hot air blower must be used after attaching the material, which can be pulled together and smoothed.


  • Assembly possible for everyone - does not require any manual experience
  • Dirt-free assembly
  • Tear-proof
  • Opaque - completely hides the wooden ceiling
  • Easy care
  • Durable
  • Noble, modern style
  • At least one helper is required
  • Sensitivity, clean work and patience when inserting into the terminals are required
  • High purchase price
  • Not every lamp can be attached due to the heat generated
  • Overvoltage reduces the service life

Laminate cladding

If the old wood cladding just doesn't look nice anymore, but you don't want to do without a wood look, you can make a ceiling cladding with laminate.

In principle, the installation is similar to laying on the floor. However, screws must be set so that there is a firm hold.
It is only important that the wooden ceiling can withstand the weight of the laminate. If the wooden panels are only attached to the substructure with grooves, tongues, staple clips or a few screws, the same applies here as for plasterboard walls: a new one must be placed on the wooden ceiling or the entire ceiling removed.
  • Laminate is available cheaply
  • Stylish wood look
  • Easy care
  • Easy to apply
  • Once you have got the hang of lining up the individual panels, assembly will proceed quickly
  • No insulation ability
  • Scratches cannot be removed
  • Laminate is not suitable for all types of ceiling lighting due to its sensitivity to heat
  • They are not very stable - heavy cables can cause them to bend in the space between them

Remove the wooden ceiling

In many cases, homeowners go the extra mile and prefer to remove old wooden ceilings to make room for new ones. This is useful if the wood shows unsightly stains, for example due to water damage, and gives off unpleasant smells. Another aspect is cleanliness. Over the years, a lot of dust and dirt has settled between the panels, which can hardly be reached. Allergy sufferers could run into problems here. If you want to remove the traces of previous tenants and previous owners, you can easily remove a wooden ceiling yourself with the right instructions. The advantage of removing the wooden ceiling is that any other ceiling design is then open to you. On the other hand, the high levels of dirt and work involved are disadvantageous.

Loosen strips and panels
If strips and panels are screwed together, it is advisable to unscrew the screws. Otherwise damage could remain in the masonry and / or the substructure could be damaged / torn out. In the case of nailed strips and panels, they can easily be loosened with a crowbar.

Remove panels
Old wooden panels were often attached to the ceiling with special glue. This has the disadvantage that some wall / ceiling plaster comes down when it is removed. If they are provided with nails, they are usually on a substructure. Try to find a line where you pull out the nails in turn by bending the panels. A hammer with a nail puller head can be beneficial. Depending on the future ceiling design, the substructure can remain in place. In this case, care should be taken to ensure that no damage occurs when the panels are loosened.

Dismantle the substructure
If the substructure is not needed, it must be removed. As a rule, it is screwed into the ceiling with dowels. A cordless screwdriver makes work easier and saves a lot of time when unscrewing all screws.

TIP: If the screws remain with their heads in the dowel and are pulled out with pliers, the dowel can be removed immediately.

Repair ceiling

If the plaster comes off and shows holes in the ceiling through drill holes / dowels, a repair is required in order to create a smooth surface and optimal substrate conditions for the new ceiling design. The drill holes in the old panels can easily be closed with plaster or filler. If the plaster crumbles, remove all loose spots. It's quick with a hammer, but reworking with a spatula makes sense in order to be able to remove less plaster residue.

Then paint the ceiling with deep primer or primer and then apply cement plaster to the affected areas with a wall trowel. For a smooth surface, brush over the fresh cement with a so-called sponge board. After drying, the ceiling is ready for a new ceiling design.