Projects: Family Room Drywall Summary

By Jeff | Nov. 07, 2012

We’re finally all finished with replacing that ugly wood paneling in our family room with new drywall and now that it’s all primed and painted, we’re glad we decided to make the change. It may have taken a lot more time and effort than we were originally planning, but isn’t that how most projects go?

For those of you that don’t remember, here’s what our family room looked like when we got the house. At first glance, we didn’t even realize that there was wood paneling because it had been painted such a pale color. But the longer we noticed it, the more we hated it. A big concern we had with the paneling was that although it didn’t look that bad (for paneling anyways) in beige, we were going to paint the walls blue – pretty close to the same color we had in our apartment. We weren’t sure how much the new color would accentuate the wood paneling.

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The other part of the room that really confused us though was the odd 1/2 ft drywall border at the top of the 8.5 ft tall ceilings. Clearly whoever installed the wood paneling not only did so over perfectly good drywall, but instead of getting paneling that was tall enough they got 8 ft paneling and put a small trim piece above it to cover the difference.

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So with the in-laws coming into town, we decided to embark upon our first big renovation project. As soon as they arrived, we got to work investigating what was behind the drywall. We were hoping that it hadn’t been installed very securely and could resurface the drywall.

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Clearly that wasn’t going to happen. Oh well. It was a long shot anyways. We were pretty much past the point of no return at this point, so on we continued with the demolition. When we got to the far wall with the fireplace, we knew we had to dismantle the bookshelves we liked. We were hoping to save them and reassemble afterwards with some alterations, but that quickly turned out not to work out.

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Despite there being only four shelves, there were three different construction methods. And LOTS of nails and parts. When we redo the fireplace, we may try to salvage some of the wood, but we will probably just create all new shelving that’s much more simple and modern. We will also want to match the shelving we are planning to build in the living room.

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Even with all the ugly glue patches on the wall, I almost liked the bare walls better than the wood paneling. I think it was something about the room at least looking like it had more potential than before.

Another major project I’ve wanted to undertake was wire our house for Internet and surround sound. Based on our network plan, everything was starting here in the family room. We had previously talked with some different drywall companies and learned that we would at least need to take the drywall down on the two walls that had corners into the kitchen if we didn’t want any trim pieces over the corners – which we both didn’t want. This also aligned with the two walls that were going to need most of the wiring, so down the drywall came.

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Once we got the room cleaned up, I began work on figuring out the best way to wire things. It took a lot of effort and many tries, but we did eventually get everything wired up. We did have to cheat a little on the cable wire and hired a handyman to move it from the front corner in plain view to be hidden in the wall. We simply didn’t have the tools necessary to make that change, and it was worth the money to have it done quickly. The handyman also finished three holes in the corner that I wasn’t able to quite get due to the angle of the attic as it attached to the family room. I’m pretty sure a lot of this would have been easier if it had been an interior room.

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Fortunately, the attic above the family room was pretty easy to get into, and I got really good and crawling around up there after so many trips.

Once all the wiring was in place, we still had walls with no drywall. We thought about doing the drywalling ourselves, but since we had never done it before and since it was going in the room we probably spend the most time in awake, we wanted to hire someone. Even though hanging the drywall would have been pretty easy, if the mudding was off a bit and not perfectly smooth, there would have been imperfections which would have driven us crazy.

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Finding a drywall company proved to be almost as difficult as doing it ourselves. With some of the people not ever calling us back and others giving us crazy high prices compared to others or even changing their price depending on the day, we were pretty close to just doing the whole thing ourselves, experience or not. Even the ones who were able to do the work well and for a good price weren’t able to get us in their schedule for several weeks.

Then we got a call back from Leonard, who had originally rejected our work since he was all booked up already. He normally is a contractor, but apparently the job he was working on was at a standstill due to materials. He had enough time off to get our project done if we wanted, and his price was still competitive.

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We were very pleased with all of Leonard’s work. He set up a dust barrier to keep most of the dust out of the house, and while he was late (sometimes by several hours), he had a focus on quality and made sure everything was just right, including all the holes for the speakers and the wiring coming in at the right spot.

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The first day, he brought a friend over to help him hang the drywall, but after that, he just came and worked on his own. It was really nice not to have to worry about getting everything just right by ourselves and I learned some other stuff too.

With the drywall all hung and mudded, it was time to prime and paint. On bare drywall, it was recommended that we get a dedicated PVA drywall primer regardless of the paint we used. Bare drywall will suck up any paint you throw at it and the dedicated primer is designed for this. It’s also a lot cheaper than buying more paint.

With everything painted, it was time to hang the TV and the speakers. We also upgraded all of the electrical outlets to new white tamper-resistant models and upgraded the light switch to match the one in the kitchen and put on a screw-less faceplate.

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From beginning to end, our project took several weeks, but it was definitely worth it. We love the new colors and having all of the media equipment in the corner and the TV wall-mounted is much cleaner and makes the room seem larger than having a big media console in the front of the room.

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For more information on this project check out these previous posts:

Family Room Renovation Part I Drywall Installation Started