Built-ins question

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Forum topic by ADHDan posted 04-11-2014 01:25 PM 1551 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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800 posts in 2311 days

04-11-2014 01:25 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I suppose this more of a drywall/trim carpentry question, but hopefully someone can help me out. I’m going to be building some built-in cabinets with upper bookcases to go on either side of our downstairs fireplace. The problem is that the downstairs walls currently are paneled with v-groove wood paneling, which we are going to be drywalling over at some undetermined point in the future. This means that I don’t think I can build the built-ins all the way to the side wall paneling, because then we couldn’t fit drywall behind them.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I should do? I think my options are:

(a) Put up the drywall on the section of the walls where the built-ins will meet them. The problem with this approach is that I don’t know when we’ll be able to finish the rest of the drywall – it could be a few years.

(b) Leave a 1/2” gap between the built ins and the wall, so that I can slide a drywall panel back there once we do decide to install. I could put a 1/2” sheet of plywood between the built-ins and the wall as I’m building, to ensure that I’ve got a gap, then remove the sheet when I’m done and tack up a strip to cover the gap for the time being. The only problem with this approach is that I was hoping to fix the built-ins to the wall itself, both for ease of building and to help keep everything square and plumb.

Anyone have any ideas? Should I just bite the bullet and drywall that section of the wall before I start? Due to time issues, I pretty have to make the built-ins now because we need the storage space and my wife and toddler will be out of town for Easter, giving me a one week window to do nothing but work on the built-ins in my free time.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

8 replies so far

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1169 posts in 2733 days

#1 posted 04-11-2014 02:19 PM

Is there a need to have drywall between the cases and the existing paneling? If not, simply put up some 1/2” plywood as a spacer to keep the case 1/2” off the wall, and add a small trim piece to hide the gap. When you do drywall down the road, just butt it up to the trim piece.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View ADHDan's profile


800 posts in 2311 days

#2 posted 04-11-2014 02:40 PM

Yeah that’s what it looks like I’m going to do. Makes perfect sense. Thanks!

Follow up question: is it really worth it to drywall the entire room, as opposed to either mudding the v-grooves or putting up wall liner paper to achieve a smooth look? Not only would this be faster and cheaper, it also would avoid having to take off door and window frames and build them out to account for the additional 1/2” of drywall.

(This is in a lower-level family room/playroom in a split-entry house.)

Edit: if I didn’t mud, I’d put up something like this:

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View pmayer's profile


1032 posts in 3268 days

#3 posted 04-11-2014 02:59 PM

Hi Dan,

(editing after reading your last response)

If you are only adding drywall to create a smooth surface, I wouldn’t do it. The product you referenced looks decent, or even just mudding the grooves should be fine. In a previous home I just painted over the paneling with a light paint and it looked fine as well.

If you want to drywall, I can give you the name of a local drywall guy who works fast and economically. He could get the wall done while you pre-fab the entertainment center in your shop. You might even ask him for a quote to do the entire room now, as it is probably cheaper than you think.

-- PaulMayer,

View ADHDan's profile


800 posts in 2311 days

#4 posted 04-11-2014 03:09 PM

Paul – thanks for the tip! Please do send the name of your contact. I was planning on putting up the drywall myself and then hiring out the taping and mudding, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a quote.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View ADHDan's profile


800 posts in 2311 days

#5 posted 04-11-2014 05:28 PM

Ok, new idea. If I do drywall, I’d probably use 1/4” drywall and just install it over the paneling. In this scenario, I cut a shallow (say, 1/8” deep) rabbet 1/4” wide, into the outside (wall-abutting) edges of my face frames after scribing them to the wall. That way it will still look fine for the time being, and when I do install drywall I can slide it into the rabbet and minimize the amount of “cover up” work needed to make the joint look nice.

Does this make sense, or am I overthinking? Ideally I’d like to make the eventual drywall-to-frame joint as clean as possible, rather than cover it with a piece of trim (or with as small a piece as possible).

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View Broglea's profile


685 posts in 3293 days

#6 posted 04-11-2014 07:09 PM

I had the same set-up in my house before I renovated.

I would go with the drywall first and then install the built-ins. It is a lot easier to fit the build-ins into the space after drywalling and make it look nice. You can bet the wall isn’t going to be plumb and the space isn’t going to be perfectly square.

Drywall, tape and mud are pretty inexpensive.

View MrRon's profile


5195 posts in 3446 days

#7 posted 04-12-2014 04:24 PM

A good dry waller can do a room in a couple of hours. Something about putting drywall over wood paneling bothers me. If it were my house, I would remove the wood paneling, but because you have a small window of opportunity to accomplish your job, whatever you decide to do now will come back to haunt you later on. You want a quick and easy way out, but it’s not that simple. My fix would be; remove the wood paneling in back of and the sides where the bookcase will go; replace with 1/2” sheet rock, but set the sheet rock back from the front of the bookcase about an inch. After the bookcase in in place, there will be no gap. In the future, remove the wood paneling and slip the sheet rock into the 1” gap. Do the same if you want to sheet rock over the paneling, leaving a gap 1” deep.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5798 posts in 3016 days

#8 posted 04-12-2014 05:42 PM

I would make drywall this years project. Remove the paneling and use standard 1/2” drywall. Do it once and do it right is the saying that comes to mind. The built ins will be easier to install whenever you are ready for that phase.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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