Painting Paneling


Wood paneling can be a stunning addition to any home, however, if you already have paneled wall, painting paneling is a great option to consider for those old outdated wall panels. Years ago, wood paneling was used in many different rooms such as recreation rooms and dens, as well as kitchens and living rooms. Today, many people like the sleek look of painted rooms so if your walls have lost their luster but are still in relatively good shape, painting paneling is not difficult and yields fabulous results.

You can quickly and easily transform a room by painting paneling using a few practical guidelines.

Painting Paneling Tips and Techniques

Preparation is a key requirement for this project, and will likely take the most time and effort. Proper preparation is the common thread to all home improvement projects, and your attention to this aspect of the job makes a 100 percent difference to the outcome.

Materials to Gather

  • Brushes - a couple of sizes, small ones for creases, grooves, and cracks in the paneling in either natural bristle or polyester work fine
  • 3/8 inch nap roller
  • TSP or similar all-purpose household cleaner
  • Choose a premium quality alkyd primer made by the same company which manufactured the paint and have it tinted the same color. The best quality ones block stains and will prevent the panel color bleeding through, resulting in a top coat of paint that stays fresh-looking for years. The paint finish is entirely optional but know that flat and satin paints may not take to cleaning as well as semi-gloss or high gloss paints, however, the glossy finishes will show touch-ups more readily than flat or satin.
  • Premium quality acrylic latex paint - this type of paint is flexible, which prevents chipping and peeling - you will be transforming your tired old wood paneling with color, so base your color choice on the type of room, natural and artificial lighting, size, and the mood you wish to create. Find inspiration for color by visiting Benjamin Moore or Behr.
  • Sponges and a bucket for washing the walls
  • Wood putty - use same or similar color to your wood paneling
  • Drywall joint compound
  • Putty knives
  • Sandpaper (180 grit) and palm held sand paperblocks
  • Have a helper at hand to use a vacuum cleaner, preferably wet/dry, to suck up the dust as you sand
  • Dust mask
  • Goggles/safety glasses
  • Drop cloths
  • Wiping cloths
  • Paper towels
  • Paint tray
  • Painter's tape or masking tape to cover trim and moldings, and around light switches

Step-By-Step Instructions

1. Remove the furniture from the room or if need be, place it out of the way and cover with drop cloths.

2. Cover the floor with drop cloths.

3. Cover the vents in the room and the doorways to prevent the dust particles floating throughout the house.

4. Tape any moldings or trim with painter's tape or masking tape.

5. If your wood paneling is grooved, fill those groves with drywall joint compound, otherwise fill any gouges, holes, and cracks with the wood putty.

6. Once the putty or joint compound has dried sufficiently, sand the filled areas until they are smooth and check by running your palm over the area. If you use a sanding block with fine sandpaper it will ensure the primer will stick.

7. Thoroughly clean all the panels with household cleaner and a sponge. Paint will not stick to dirty, dusty, or oily wood paneling.

8. When the walls have dried thoroughly, apply the primer using a second coat if required.

9. When the primer is dry, apply two coats of the acrylic latex paint using the paint brushes for corners and edges and the roller for the main part of the walls.

10. Wait at least 24 hours for the paint to dry before hanging pictures or removing the painter's tape.

Dreary brown wood paneling comes alive when given a fresh coat of paint, and the vertical grooves add extra interest. Try painting paneling in an alternating complementary or contrasting color for a sleek modern look.

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Painting Paneling