How to install paneling in trailers

Written by karie lapham fay
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How to install paneling in trailers
Wood wall panelling can provide rich colour and warmth to a room. (Close-up wooden texture to background image by Ragnarocks from

Panelling sometimes receives a bad rap due to older, cheaper installations where the panelling looked artificial. Today's panelling, however, provides you with a variety of styles and choices that can warm up your mobile home trailer and provide a "homey" look and feel. Simple to install, you can tear out your old wall covering and replace it with panelling, or attach the panelling over the old wall covering -- it's your choice.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Panelling
  • Measuring tape
  • Level
  • Hammer
  • Nails (both framing and finishing types)
  • 1-by-3-inch furring strips
  • Construction adhesive
  • Masking tape
  • Sabre saw
  • Shims
  • Trim and mouldings

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  1. 1

    Bring the panelling inside your mobile home two to five days before installation. Allow the panelling to acclimate to the temperature and humidity level; this helps eliminate expansion or shrinkage, which can cause problems with how the panelling fits once you install it.

  2. 2

    Remove baseboard trim, door trim, electrical socket covers and similar objects hanging on the walls. Clear the room of any obstacles that may hinder your panelling installation, such as couches and lamps.

  3. 3

    Remove the current wall covering, if desired. Nail 1-by-3-inch furring strips across the studs, starting 1/4-inch above the floor and repeating every 12 inches until 1/4-inch from the ceiling. Leave slight gaps between adjoining horizontal furring strips to prevent buckling.

  1. 1

    Apply construction adhesive to the furring strips where you will hang your first sheet of panelling and around the panelling edges. Create wavy stripes with the adhesive to help the glue bond.

    How to install paneling in trailers
    Use all-purpose construction adhesive in a caulk gun. (glazier image by Greg Pickens from
  2. 2

    Place the first sheet of panelling against the edge of the adjoining wall, pushing it into the corner squarely to create a flush installation. Nail into place with finishing nails along the top and the bottom edges where the furring strips are, as well as in the corner where the panelling meets the wall (by definition this edge will have a stud under it, so nail placement is not critical.) Place nails down the opposite side of the panelling as well, driving nails into the furring strips. Repeat process for each sheet of panelling you install, letting panelling just barely touch at seams to prevent buckling and bowing.

  3. 3

    Cut away openings for electrical sockets or light switches by measuring from the closest sheet of panelling over to the electrical box. Measure up from the floor (or down from the ceiling) to determine the edges of the electrical box. Notate the height and width of the box, as well as the distance from the object and ceiling or floor.

  4. 4

    Transfer measurements to the back of a sheet of panelling, marking the exact outline of the electrical box according to the height and width, along with the spacing from floor or ceiling and edge of panelling. Put masking tape over the area you will cut before cutting with a sabre saw or other saw to prevent rough, splintered edges. Cut around doors and windows similarly.

  5. 5

    Reinstall any trim you removed, adding shims as needed around door and window jambs to raise the trim level with the wall panelling. Nail trim to joints between panelling sheets, if desired, to cover edges.

Tips and warnings

  • Run a level across your walls before attaching furring strips, if applicable. Use shims to adjust the furring strips as needed to create a flat, plumb installation when you attach the panelling.
  • The purpose of furring strips is to provide structural support so the panelling will not sag, along with providing a base to nail into.
  • Place your first sheet of panelling against the wall before applying construction adhesive; hold a level against the side edge to determine it is level vertically, adjusting as needed to create a square panel. You can easily cover small gaps of less than 1/4-inch with trim.
  • Note that modern building codes sometimes require drywall behind certain wood panelling to create fire resistance. Check with local building authorities to determine if you can place the panelling directly over your stud wall, if desired.

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