Right Paneling Trim Helps in a Tough Jamb

Walls get ugly in a variety of ways. Over time, they may begin to crack. The paint may peel. Someone may cover them with hideous wallpaper, or coat them with a thick layer of paint to create a textured effect.

There are two ways to deal with problems like these. You can try to remove or repair them. Or you can simply cover them up with a new wall. In many cases, the cover-up is the easiest route to take, especially if you do the job with prefinished paneling. You could also use drywall, but if you do, you’ll have to tape all your joints, apply two or three coats of drywall compound, sand and then apply a couple of coats of paint. That adds up to a lot of work. If you choose paneling it’s pretty much a matter of putting it up and getting on with your life.

Actually, it’s not quite that simple. Before you can panel, you’ll have to remove all the trim--moldings, casings, etc.--on the old wall. After the paneling is up, you replace the trim, either reusing the old trim, or starting over with new.

Your problems, if any, will no doubt center around the trim, especially at window and door openings. (Take a look at the sketch to see what I mean.)


When your walls were originally built, the drywall or plaster was installed flush with the edges of door and window jambs. Then a piece of trim called casing was installed over the joint between the wall and the jamb, covering it up and creating a neat finished look. The right side of the top and bottom sketches shows this original condition.

But when you apply paneling over an existing wall, you increase the thickness of the wall, and its surface no longer sets flush with the edge of the door and window jambs. (The left side of the lower sketch shows this situation quite clearly.)

Solution? The sketch shows two possible ways to go. One is to rip a strip of pine to the thickness of the paneling and use it as a filler strip to bring the jambs out flush with the surface of the new paneling (see the left side of the top sketch).

This works quite nicely if your jambs are painted. Just fasten the filler strips in place with brads and glue, fill any nail holes and paint both jam and filler strip. The strip will look like part of the original jamb and you are ready to reinstall your casing.


This approach doesn’t work quite so neatly if the jambs are finished naturally . . . with varnish and possibly a stain. The reason? It’s difficult to match the color of the filler strip to the jamb.

In this case, you might consider a different approach, shown in the lower sketch. Instead of putting a filler strip on the jamb, rabbet the back of the casing, cutting it so it wraps around the edge of the new paneling. This is more work, and it will require a table saw or a jointer, but it will provide an invisible solution to your problem.