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  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default are paneled walls a fire hazard?

    Am contemplating purchasing an 1960s ranch-style single family and every single interior wall is paneled (except for the bath).

    Recently heard that paneling is actually a fire hazard since flames will move faster across that surface, as compared to sheet rock. Got me thinking as to why insurance companies don't require the removal, or charge more when interior walls are covered in paneling. And if paneling is such a fire hazard, why aren't hardwood floors also considered such? Or asbestos ceiling (would think "these" would actually melt from the heat of fire).

    Aside from primer & painting, or actual removal of paneling, does anyone have any other suggestions. Is there a wall cover/wall paper one can apply to paneling that might be fire retardant as well as decorative?

  2. #2
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: are paneled walls a fire hazard?

    It's not any more flammable than carpet, furnishings, wall paper and dr-aperies. While paneling will contribute to the overall fuel load, it's not going to make much of a difference in how much of your home will be destroyed or salvageable after a fire.

    Dang word censor!
    Last edited by A. Spruce; 05-11-2011 at 11:05 PM.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    nova scotia, canada
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    Default Re: are paneled walls a fire hazard?

    the wood has to ignite first before it begins to fuel the fire, it wont simply spontaneously combust throughout the entire house at the same time. asbestos is actually a fire retarded not fuel, its the reason it was used so often in construction before the 70's

    i use to wonder the same sort of thing because of "fire stops" in framing, i didnt understand how more adding more wood to the structure wood stop the flames, it blocks off the path of the flame so it simpy doesnt move from floor to floor, the blocking has to burn first
    fire up the saw and make some dust

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
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    Default Re: are paneled walls a fire hazard?

    The contents of a room are generally more dangerous than the wall construction itself. Wooden paneling is smooth and flat. Hold a blow torch on it for a few seconds and you will probably only get scorching of the wood. Hold that same torch on d****ries or sofa, especially of a cotton fabric, and you had better have the fire extinquisher handy! Further, most sheet paneling is backed up with drywall to give it solidity.

    As to the aesthtics of that much paneling: Paneling can be painted. I sprayed many a 1960's family room to get rid of that dark color which was popular then. I preferred to spray BIN pigmented shellac primer because of its tenacious adhesion and its super fast drying. Two coats of BIN would blank out that dark color and by the time I had my HVLP sprayer cleaned of BIN, I could start with a oil enamel finish coat. The result looked like a factory finish and I was done in a day.

    It is possible to paper over paneling using a heavy liner paper, but I personally would sooner remove the paneling.

    Given my first choice, I would look for a house with more traditional drywall or plaster, unless I got one hec of a deal on the price!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    New England
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    Default Re: are paneled walls a fire hazard?

    Darn that HGTV, cuz heard this again about paneling watching a show where the people renovate a space for rental income. This particular HGTV host told the homeowner that some paneling in her basement must be removed because it would be a fire hazard to a potential tenant. Thus, they removed it from one wall. If that's not the case, why not just paint over it instead?

    Thanks for tips on how to paint over paneling - that will probably be the easiest route to go. While I'd much prefer sheet rock walls, kinda like "this old house" so to speak. It needs some updating, but basically has good bones.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    nova scotia, canada
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    Default Re: are paneled walls a fire hazard?

    just a side note, there is quite a bit of information that is given on hgtv and diy that is complete bs.

    i dont know how many times ive seen wrong information given on those two channels be it technical or how to. its scary and part of the reason trained professionals charge what they do, we sometimes complete replace what an ill informed diyer and we cant work with whats there so it has to be compltely torn out and redone
    fire up the saw and make some dust

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    SoCal
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    Default Re: are paneled walls a fire hazard?

    I just finished renovating a rental house that had panels, with who knows how many paint layers.
    I had to replace some of the drywall, but now the walls look even, fresher and more attractive.
    Panels are so 1960s. Like the popcorn ceilings...

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    SoCal
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    Default Re: are paneled walls a fire hazard?

    jkirk,
    your post just popped up,
    you're right...and that's why home improvements centers are doing such a good business: they sell materials for the same jobs, 3 times:
    - first to the homeowner, who botches the material, miscuts, misinstalls, etc.
    - second time to the same homeowner after he watched these shows or went to one of those "how to" class...
    - and finally to the pro, who gets an SOS call from the pissed off homeowner's wife to come in and redo it...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    nova scotia, canada
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    Default Re: are paneled walls a fire hazard?

    well, the 3rd time is usually from the lumber yard for a much better price, not to mention the free carpenters pencils we get .... some of the time
    fire up the saw and make some dust

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Northern Virginia
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    Default Re: are paneled walls a fire hazard?

    Thin plywood paneling is especially inflammable, while drywall is not. Thin plywood paneling right over studs (I have seen this done!) seems particularly bad for a firewall, wouldn't you think?
    Thick plywood that has been treated with fire-retardant chemicals can be as fire-resistant as drywall.

    Casey
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

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