I have a living room that I am looking to update. It currently has 1/4" Wall Paneling over 3/8" drywall. The drywall is in very good shape, but has not been taped. The house is from the 50's, so they used nails to attach the drywall to the studs. Those now have a layer of rust on them.

I could just tape and mud, but I am worried about the drywall being too thin. My other consideration is to put another layer or 1/4" over it. This would cover over the rusted nails, which have a tendency to pop, and give me a cleaner wall. If this is the recommendation I was also considering what attachment method: drywall adhesive or screws?

P.S. The room is getting new windows, so those will be adjusted as needed.

  • 2
    Take it down and install 5/8 drywall. Virtually no difference in cost. And it will look better. Only additional labor is removing the 3/8. This will give you an opportunity to evaluate the insulation and wiring inside the wall.
    – Kris
    Oct 9, 2018 at 13:09
  • @Kris Why 5/8 drywall? 1/2" is the standard for walls, and ceilings here in Tennessee. 5/8" is about $2 more per sheet than 1/2". I do concur with replacing the 3/8 sheetrock however.
    – BillWeckel
    Oct 9, 2018 at 13:51
  • 6
    @BillWeckel OP had a combined thickness of 5/8 originally therefore it will make sense to match that thickness to insure that profiles are maintained at door and window trim
    – Kris
    Oct 9, 2018 at 13:54
  • Whatever you end up doing, please avoid breathing any of the dust from cutting or sanding or tearing out your 1950s drywall, likely has some asbestos in it
    – freshop
    Oct 9, 2018 at 16:56

3 Answers 3


I would just take the 3/8" down and install 1/2". Here's why I suggest it

  1. Opening the walls would let you fix things if need be. Want to add some new outlets? Remove older wiring? Add some coaxial or Ethernet? Now's your chance. You said you were adding windows. You'll have an easier time if you just take the old stuff down.
  2. 1/4" is less commonly used, so it is slightly more expensive than 1/2" (plus you really need to glue the new boards to the old and that starts adding up). You could always stick 1/2" up over the top of the existing, but if you're going through that trouble, demo isn't that much more on top of that
  3. Speaking from experience, hanging new drywall on bare studs is easier than going over the top of existing drywall. There's no guesswork at studs.

As to how to attach, I tend to use both nails and screws. When you're mounting the boards, nothing is faster than nails. A few nails will hold the board up. Then I go back and add screws. Be aware that screws are easier to goof up, but I like the lack of movement later. Be sure to smash the nails into the board (as in dent the board around the head) or popping will drive you up the wall later.

  • I was concerned with the 1/8 difference in thickness between original 3/8+1/4 wall and 1/2 “ new wall do you think it will cause any issues ie at door and window trim?
    – Kris
    Oct 9, 2018 at 14:40
  • You'll find almost everyone assumes you'll have 1/2" drywall (it is the most common thickness) so i would assume you'd have less trouble
    – Machavity
    Oct 9, 2018 at 14:43
  • 1
    If your existing door and window jambs expect 5/8, use 5/8.
    – isherwood
    Oct 9, 2018 at 16:33
  • @Kris, that 1/8 of difference on the trim can be filled with latex easily.
    – werfu
    Oct 10, 2018 at 20:24

You're right that 3/8 is too thin. It would be much too prone to impact damage and would feel floppy.

I've seen 1/4" drywall installed over old plaster after a house move. It worked out just fine. If you find that removing the 3/8" drywall would be cumbersome, just overlay it with 1/4. Even if you need to do in-wall repairs or enhancements, you can reinstall the areas of 3/8 that you cut out and then overlay.

I would use some panel adhesive between studs to prevent waviness and sound (and to create a generally stronger wall).


I had a house with 1/4" paneling just over studs. It was installed with paneling nails and wasn't holding up well. I nailed it with larger head nails (for roofing I think) to hold it on better. I used drywall compound in the paneling cracks (no tape or anything). Then I wallpapered with a textured paper and painted. Looks much better than plain painted drywall IMO. It also strengthens the wall. It's also advertised as able to hide minor imperfections and it does that well.

It's very easy to do, I didn't even remove the moldings. However, it may be more expensive. I don't remember what I paid, but it was more than drywall.

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