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Repairing tongue-and-groove paneling

Tongue-and-groove boards interlock, which makes it difficult to repair a small area. If not done carefully, trying to remove one damaged board would mean damaging all the boards. Use the following method to carefully remove and replace just the damaged board.

Tools and materials

Drill, drywall saw, workbench, chisel, new board, hammer, nails, filler, sandpaper, paintbrush, paint


1 Drill a hole close to one edge of the damaged board, then insert a drywall saw into the hole and cut all the way down the joint between the boards.


2 Use a chisel to lever out the damaged section of board. Be careful not to damage neighboring panels.


3 Cut a new section of board to fit. Safely secure it to a workbench and use a hammer and chisel to remove the tongue so that you can fit it in place.


4 Nail the new board in place, attaching it through its face, because you no longer have the interlocking tongue for blind nailing.


5 Fill the fastener holes with wood filler, and sand when dry. Then decorate the board to match the surrounding surface.


Removing paneling

Where the board crosses studs or nailing strips in the wall, it may be easier to use a hammer and chisel to cut the board. If the board is very thick, it may be easier to remove the tongue with a saw rather than with a drywall saw. When a natural-wood finish is needed, consider using adhesive to attach the board rather than nails.


 Understanding chisels

Chisels are general-purpose woodcutting tools, but are used mostly to remove the waste from joints or to trim them to size. The size of a chisel refers to the width of its cutting edge. Although a vast range of chisels is available, a small selection should enable you to tackle most DIY tasks.


 What type of nail to use?

The most basic of fasteners, nails are essential for most construction jobs. Common nails for general use are available in many sizes choose one that is at least three times longer than the depth of the thinner material being nailed. For the above job oval wire nails have been used, as the oval cross-section reduces the splitting of the wood. A nail set may be needed to drive the nails below the panel’s surface.