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I have been tasked with building wood paneling for one of the bedrooms in our place. I will be using MDF sheets, screwed directly onto the wall. The existing wall is plasterboard and plaster (fair condition at best). Should I use plasterboard screws to affix the MDF to the wall?

  • If it is thin, why not glue? – bib Sep 25 '18 at 22:58
  • I would agree with @bib adhesive may be the best for made paneling, the other normal opinion is paneling nails, these are very small and usually colored – Ed Beal Sep 25 '18 at 23:15
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    If you use screws, countersink them. MDF is so dense that it bulges if you screw it without countersinking, and those bulges are terrible to finish. Glue and/or nails would be an excellent choice. – Aloysius Defenestrate Sep 26 '18 at 3:36
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    Find and mark all studs then nail every 18" or so... – Jimmy Fix-it Sep 26 '18 at 4:43
  • The MDF is the paneling, or the MDF is a base for the paneling? – Ecnerwal Sep 26 '18 at 17:54
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Given:

The existing wall is plasterboard and plaster (fair condition at best)

I would lean heavily in the direction of stripping to the studs and then attaching the MDF to the studs, but that's making the assumption that the MDF is of some reasonable thickness (12mm / 1/2 inch or more.)

Fix anything that needs fixing in the wall cavities while you are at it (insulation, wiring, plumbing, etc.)

Sheeting over poor-quality plaster/drywall reveals in great detail exactly how non-flat the substrate is, and eats space in the room. Despite the brief mess, starting fresh may be faster overall (as you are not compensating for all those humps and hollows), and result in a better job.

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