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Our house, built in 1951, has one room paneled in wood:

paneling_1

paneling_2

When we bought the place, the home inspector opined that this was original to the house, and not the cheap 1970s stuff. Moreover, the house is very solidly built overall. Here's what we found when we opened up the wall behind the shower:

plaster_wall

I want to hang some bookshelves on this paneled wall, probably the standard-and-bracket type, like this. My questions:

  • How thick is that paneling likely to be?
  • Is that same double-thickness situation (which looks like plaster over drywall, or maybe two layers of plaster) likely to be under the paneling? If not, what is?
  • Am I going to need any special kind of hardware to hang shelves on wood over plaster over drywall over a stud?
  • IME no particular reason to expect drywall at all under solid wood panelling. – Ecnerwal Mar 15 at 15:06
  • @Ecnerwal So is that paneling just laid over the studs? – crmdgn Mar 15 at 15:09
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How thick is that paneling likely to be?

No one here can make that assessment for you; you will need to inspect the wall, by either drilling a hole at the intended mounting site, or opening the wall up.

Is that same double-thickness situation (which looks like plaster over drywall, or maybe two layers of plaster) likely to be under the paneling?

Again, you will need to inspect the wall you intend to hang the shelf from and not make any assumptions of continuity of construction. Your inspector spoke out of turn here; unless he was the original home owner or carpenter that put the paneling up.

If not, what is?

It's a 70 year old house - there is no reason to assume that it has never been remodeled in the past, and that any old work dug into, is original to the house. What's behind door number 2? Look.

Am I going to need any special kind of hardware to hang shelves on wood over plaster over drywall over a stud?

Probably not - as long as the paneling has substantial thickness, and is properly affixed to the underlying framing. Neither of which you know at this point, and no one here can tell you, unless they've had that wall open themselves.

In earlier period paneling jobs, is wasn't unusual for the carpenter to panel a wall, not unlike they would panel a floor. By furring the surface in an apposing direction or at an angle to the framing first, then the finished panels at whatever angle was desired - without plaster or drywall at all.

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  • So there's no standardized thickness for wood paneling? (I had expected there would be, just as there's a standard spacing for wall studs, standard thicknesses for plywood, etc., etc.) – crmdgn Mar 16 at 18:43
  • Yes and no; there are standard sizes of all forms of lumber, but there is very little that we can do to help you identify what you have, with the limited information that you have provided. You need to inspect the wall you plan to work on. – tahwos Mar 18 at 23:16

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