Painting Wood Paneling

Painting Wood paneling can make a home feel warm and comfortable. However, if your house is full of paneling that is dated, damaged, or made of an inferior veneer, it’s worth considering an upgrade. Since removing it could be costly, consider a coat of paint. It can instantly make that dingy paneling look fresh and bright for a fraction of the cost.

Instructions Painting Wood Paneling

01. Painting Wood Paneling – Clean the Molding and Paneling 

  • Begin by making sure the paneling is clean. A damp rag will remove most of the dust, dirt, and cobwebs. If there are layers of grime, use a solution of TSP (trisodium phosphate, a heavy-duty cleaner) or a TSP substitute (which can be less toxic) and water to get it all off.
  • Never paint over a dirty surface because the paint won’t adhere properly. It will also look low-grade because the paint will pick up clumps of dirt, making it impossible to get a flat, clean look.

02. Fill and Sand the Wood

Apply wood putty with a putty knife to fill any holes or cracks and allow to dry. If desired, lightly sand all of the paneling, along with trim and moldings, with 150-grit sandpaper. The idea is to take off the sheen and create a lightly gritty surface so the paint will adhere. Try not to get carried away and sand too hard. When you’re finished, wipe it down with a slightly damp cloth to remove all the dust.

Note: Sanding is optional and often is not necessary. Using a good primer that will stick to the old finish usually means you don’t have to sand the wood. Just keep in mind that if the primer doesn’t stick well, neither will the paint. Sanding always improves adhesion.

See also  Hardwood Floors Under Carpet

Caulk Around the Trim

Apply caulk to any gaps between paneling planks, between the panels and trim, and around the windows and doors. Make sure to use “paintable” caulk. Allow the caulk to dry, as directed by the manufacturer.

painting over paneling walls

04.Painting Wood Paneling – Prime the Wood

Use a foam sponge roller and a brush or just a brush alone to apply a thin coat of primer to all of the paneling. When rolling, keep a brush on hand to get into any cracks, seams, or corners where the roller can’t reach and remove drips. Make sure to cover the entire surface, including any trim. It’s best to use an oil-based primer or a water-based stain-blocking primer. These will prevent any grease or wood stains from coming through and ruining your paint job.

painting over paneling walls

05. Paint the Paneling

Apply a thin coat of paint to all paneling surfaces. Begin at the top and work your way down, making sure to cover all the gaps between the panels. With your brush, remove any excess paint that collects in the panel grooves. Take care of any drips right away, too. Let the first coat dry, as directed, then apply a second coat.

After the primer and first coat, your wall may look finished, but a second coat will ensure the best coverage and improve its durability. It’s definitely worth the extra time and materials.

painting over paneling walls

06. Paint the Trim

Paint the trim your desired color. It is usually best to use a glossier finish for the walls, which helps the trim stand out, and creates a smoother surface that’s easier to clean. However, this really comes down to personal preference.

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painting over paneling walls

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