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I bought this house 2 years ago and the family room has these ugly drywalls with engraved (I think) vertical gaps. What is the cheaper way to smooth the wall out and paint out? Can I use stucco? Should I hire someone who changes drywalls? In particular it will be tricky to work around that bookshelf, and removing the nailed bookshelf and put it back seems a lot of work as well.

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EDIT: here is the picture of the socket, is it drywall or paneling? A friend told me it might paneling but he is not sure...

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    Are you sure it is drywall, and not panelling?
    – crip659
    Oct 22 at 17:33
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    Drywall is thin paper holding gypson in the center, you see white stuff when making a hole. Paneling is more of a wood fiber material, more brown dust when making a hole. Can also see at the outlet/switch covers.
    – crip659
    Oct 22 at 17:51
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    "Gypsum". You need to come to terms with the fact that the shelves come out for any of the proposed solutions. They're not that complicated. Any halfway competent DIYer can do that with little trouble.
    – isherwood
    Oct 22 at 18:08
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    Maybe these walls aren't so ugly after all, eh? Frankly I find it a nice change from the acres of textured drywall I've installed and lived in.
    – isherwood
    Oct 22 at 18:11
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    Looks to me like hardboard paneling.
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 23 at 13:53
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This is paneling that has been painted. It may have been painted a few times over the years and it may feel more like drywall, but its going to be thin wood paneling. You can remove a light switch cover or outlet cover in the room and look at the cut edge of the material to verify this.

Updating this is going to be a big job, and removing the shelving will be the least of it. Knock on the walls and see if they sound hollow. Some times paneling is put up directly on the studs. If it has a more solid sound (still hollow, it is a wall) then it could be paneling over drywall. The electrical outlet inspection could also reveal this.

If it's over drywall, you can remove the paneling and finish the underlying drywall. It may have holes to repair and be in worse shape than the usual drywall. The other option is just covering what's there with a new layer of 1/4" drywall.

If it's directly over the studs and has no drywall under it, its probably best to remove it all, inspect the walls, and put up new drywall.

Low effort option - prime the wall and use wood filler to fill all the cracks. Sand, prime again and paint. The wood filler may eventually crack or look different from the rest of the wall, but good surface prep should help it last.

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    Update wiring & insulation if you are going to the studs. Consider plumbing projects if any might apply as well. Don't waste the opportunity.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 22 at 17:57
  • @Ecnerwal, great point. I condensed that down into "inspect the walls", but thats a good call out.
    – JPhi1618
    Oct 22 at 17:58
  • Sometimes there is drywall behind the paneling for purpose of sound deadening and to give the wall a more solid feel that paneling over studs.
    – Kris
    Oct 22 at 18:57
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    I added pictures of what is behind the light switch ..hope it helps
    – Millemila
    Oct 23 at 3:08
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    @Millemila It looks like just wood paneling over the studs. Doesn’t seem thick enough to have drywall backing. Does it sound pretty hollow if you bang on it?
    – JPhi1618
    Oct 23 at 3:30
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If it's drywall, just use drywall compound ("mud"), let dry, scrape or lightly sand, repeat until there's no further trace, paint.

But it looks like painted wood paneling, in which case, if you want smooth drywall, buy a stack of 1/4" drywall and put it up over that..

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  • Maybe its paneling, no clue what is the difference. How would you do this behind the bookshelf? Also, how do I deal with electric sockets? If I add 1/4 drywall that would be ugly right? shouldt the panel be removed? how thick is it usually?
    – Millemila
    Oct 22 at 17:48
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    Drywall after tape and mud should be flat and smooth(depending on job done). I am thinking those lines not looking so bad now.
    – crip659
    Oct 22 at 17:55
  • Depending what you have for boxes, you use extension rings to reposition the front of the electrical boxes. It's fairly common. As for that shelf, you're going to find that working around it, while possible, is a lot more work than remove (and replace if you want to replace, but use screws/bolts, not nails, this time.)
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 22 at 18:00
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    Profiles at all trim are impacted with drywall over lay. Windows and doors would need build out on jambs and all crown base and casing moulding removed and re installed
    – Kris
    Oct 22 at 19:04
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    I added pictures of the electric socket...hope it helps
    – Millemila
    Oct 23 at 3:08

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