Before hanging pictures and other items on a wall, it helps to know whether it’s made of drywall, plaster, or another material. This is a little trickier to figure out when the wall is covered in paneling. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to help you determine what, exactly, is hiding behind your wall paneling.
Remove an outlet cover or faceplate
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Removing an outlet’s wall plate is one way to see what’s behind your wall paneling without causing significant disruption, Jonathan Klemm, a general contractor and co-founder of Quality Builders says. “Even if the property has experienced numerous revisions, these original foundational elements will usually still be present,” Josh Rudin, owner of ASAP Restoration tells me. But, as Klemm points out, the outlet may be mounted on an electrical box, so the material inside may not be representative of the entire wall.
Knock on the wall
It’s not necessarily the most precise method, but knocking on the wall paneling can give you some idea of what’s behind it. “Listen for differences in sound,” says Klemm. “Hollow sounds might indicate the presence of drywall, while solid sounds could suggest plaster or another material.”
Use a stud finder
While a stud finder won’t tell you exactly what is behind your wall paneling, Rudin says that it can offer valuable clues. “If you have metal or wooden studs, the stud sensor will be able to at least space them out on center so you know what distances you’re working with,” he explains.
Tap the wall with a golf ball
According to Rudin, you can also find studs underneath paneling by tapping the wall with a golf ball. “The sections that have a stud, be it wood or metal behind the face, will sound different than the sections with nothing behind the face.”