How to Properly Dispose of a Panel Wainscot

A room with wainscot.

An imitation of the traditional variety, panel wainscot is prefabricated and installed in full sheets to create the illusion of wainscoting. Real wainscot is comprised of parallel rows of vertical wood or MDF slats. Removing and disposing of panel wainscoting is a little different because rather than prying off individual slats, one continuous sheet is pulled from the wall. If it was glued to the wall, however, it will require a more painstaking removal than if it was simply nailed up. Disposing of it afterward is a little more difficult, though, because PVC contains so many toxic materials.

Step 1 - Post-Removal

Now that you have removed the PVC sheets of imitation paneling, it is time to dispose of them or recycle them in other ways. Removing tongue and groove slats from the wall makes the job a bit easier as wood is much less difficult to recycle. However, that does not mean that plastic panel sheets should just be thrown away.

Step 2 - Cut into Manageable Strips

Rather than deal with what could be quite large sheets of plastic paneling, take your utility knife and cut the sheets down into smaller, more manageable strips. They will store easier until you can find somewhere to take them, and they will be easier to transport as well. Make sure you wear safety glasses and work gloves while you do this, for the material can be very sharp at the edges. If, however, the paneling is in good shape, you may want to forgo this step so you can unload the used pieces at a rebuilding center (see Step 4).

Step 3 - Locate Recycle Center

Finding a recycling center for plastic PVC paneling may or may not be a challenge depending on where you live. Not until 2002 was there a recycling firm that specialized in PVC vinyl flooring. A company sprang up in Houston that year and was the first in North America. In the time that has elapsed since then, there are others doing the same thing. Call your local landfill first and inquire about the recycling programs they have in place. Any city of size will have several recycling centers that may take PVC paneling.

Step 4 - Take to Rebuilding Centers

If you cannot locate a recycling center in your area, consider taking the paneling to a local rebuilding center. This may only be a viable option if the paneling is in good shape and still in full sheet form. Rather than recycle it, a rebuilding center will sell it used in the same way you purchased it.

Step 5 - Dispose of the Paneling

Finding a way to recycle it completely or allowing it to be reused are ideal options and should be your goal. It is not wood and should not simply be thrown away. Because it is made from polyvinyl chloride, it contains a somewhat toxic substance and should always be disposed of properly.