Painting wood paneling can be just what you need to refresh your home. While paneling isn’t a popular choice for primary rooms today, it is an easy choice. But most paneling you see has been there for decades.
Paneling was a popular choice in the 1970s so most paneling in homes has been around since then. So maybe it’s time to take that paneling and update. Let’s find out how to paint old paneling to create an entirely new room.
What Is Paneling? Why Painting Wood Paneling Is Important
Paneling is a wall covering material that comes in panels. It is cheap, easy-to-install, and has been around for decades. Paneling comes in all sorts of different styles, though it was traditionally made to look wooden.
There are real wood paneling options, which is what the first paneling was made from, but many paneling options are now made from other cheaper materials. Modern-day paneling is also quite thinner than traditional paneling.
Because paneling is such a broad term it can be difficult to know where it is possible to paint the paneling that you have. Talking to a professional is your best bet for a customized estimate, but this will cover most paneling.
Is Painting Wood Paneling Hard?
In general, painting wood paneling is a little difficult. This is because there are so many different types of paneling. Some paneling is made like hardwood from the 70s and is placed board by board.
But other paneling is thin and almost cardboard-like. This paneling can warp and is very difficult to paint. The real wood paneling isn’t difficult to paint as long as you remove the previous finish with a sander.
How To Paint Wood Paneling
When it comes to the work of painting paneling, it isn’t all that different than painting anything else. If you’ve done any painting then you’ve done it all. In fact, it’s very similar to painting the exterior of your home.
Here are the steps you can take to paint paneling.
Step 1: Clean It All
Before starting to paint, get a damp rag and wash the paneling, ceiling, trim, and molding. You can probably just use water but if you notice grime then get a cleaner and clean it well, rinsing it when you finish.
Step 2: Use Wood Filler
This is especially important if the paneling is wood grain. You need to fill any holes with a good wood filler and do the same with cracks. Allow it to dry and sand it down to be smooth. If the holes are large, you may have to use something stronger.
Step 3: Caulking
Since most paneling is old, it probably needs a good caulking job done to the trim. Check for any gaps around trim and molding and use caulk to fill them. Caulking isn’t difficult but it does have a learning curve.
Step 4: Priming
After everything is dry, you can begin by priming the paneling. Taping the trim can be done before this but isn’t necessary if you are painting in the same color. In this case, just put window covers up.
You should only need one coat of simple primer in white for a good base. One can of primer will cover most rooms, especially if it is a thin primer as most primers are thin and only need to be applied in one coat.
Step 5: Painting
You probably need more than one coat of paint as paneling isn’t the easiest thing to paint. So make sure you calculate enough to do at least two coats of paint. It’s better to get too much than not enough as you can always return unopened cans.
After you have two coats under your belt decide if you think it needs another coat. Let it dry and notice any blotching spots. It may just need to be touched up. After the wall painting is done, you can start painting the trim if it’s a different color.
Note: when painting the paneling, it’s a good idea to paint the crevices first. This is hard to cover and to reach. You may need to use a small brush. After this is done, go over everything with a roller to make it even.
When Is Painting Wood Paneling A Good Idea?
Most of the time. However, some paneling is nearly impossible to paint as it will either warp or absorb every ounce of paint that you put on it. Then there’s some paneling that won’t accept the paint at all.
It’s a good idea to test a small patch before you do the entire room. Find an area that isn’t seen and test it out exactly like you would paint the whole room. Let it dry and see if everything looks good.
If it does then you can continue. If it doesn’t then it’s time to consider other options if you don’t like the look of the original paneling. You can either tear it down or find something else to cover it up with.
Other Ways To Cover Paneling
If painting the paneling isn’t working, there are still other ways to cover it up. It should be easy to remove, so that is always an option. But if you prefer to simply place something over it, here are a few choices.
Aside from paint, wall liners are the most common way to cover paneling. A wall liner is a heavy-duty pre-pasted wallpaper that can be placed over paneling with or without grooves. Wall liners can be standalone or painted.
Think of wall liners as a primer for paint that works really well. However, wall liners don’t have to be painted. They can come in designs that look like wallpaper only they are easier to apply than wallpaper.
A mural is a wall covering that can be made of cloth, plastic, or another material. It covers a surface and is usually a landscape or another detailed picture. Murals can be purchased online or made special by an artist.
The most common type of temporary mural is a canvas one. Canvas murals are easy to put up and can be taken down at any time. They work like a large tapestry or curtain that covers an entire wall.
Sand And Refinish
If you are lucky enough to have traditional paneling, it will be made of solid wood. So you can sand it down good and then refinish it with a new varnish. This will make your walls look very high-end.
If you have newer thin paneling this won’t be possible but you can try it out on a small area. Just know that after you sand it that there’s no going back so don’t do it unless you are sure about refinishing.
If your paneling doesn’t have deep grooves, you can probably put up simple wallpaper. Be careful if there are grooves as the wallpaper can tear, even after it has been up for a while. If there are grooves, use a wall liner.
You can get a wall liner to use as a primer for the wallpaper which will have different design options than wall liners do. Choose carefully because wallpaper isn’t easy to apply and take down no matter how long it has been up.
You can add another set of paneling either above or below the paneling you have up already. This can act as wainscoting or the old paneling can act as wainscoting. Use trim to separate the two in a traditional way.
If you want to create fake wainscoting, you can add some trim over the paneling. Then, you can add lines to either the top or the bottom. Another option is to paint only one side leaving the other side the original color.
An alternative to painting is whitewashing. While whitewashing is a type of painting it isn’t as touchy as it doesn’t have to cover as well. So try it out on your paneling as it can also be painted over any color of the paneling.
The original color will show through at least a bit depending on the ratio of paint to water that you use. So use thicker whitewashing for dark colors you want to mostly cover up and thinner whitewash for light colors.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
Can You Paint Wood Paneling With Grooves?
Painting wood paneling with grooves can be done, it is simply more difficult than painting wood paneling that doesn’t have grooves. It’s a good idea to start with the grooves and a small brush that can sink into the grooves.
Is Painting Wood Paneling Hard?
This really depends on the type of paneling you have and the type of paint you use. It can be very simple but it also may take more effort than you would assume. So set aside some time and you should be okay.
Is Painting Wood Paneling One-Person Job?
It can be a one-person job to paint wood paneling. But most jobs, including this job, is easier if you have at least one helper. More than two and someone may just be there for moral support.
Can I Make Painting Wood Paneling Glossy?
Making wood paneling glossy when painting isn’t always easy. But if you use glossy paint and finish with a shiny clear coat then you can achieve that glossy look fairly easily. Don’t forget to prime for best results.
Should I Remove The Paneling Entirely?
In most cases, removing paneling isn’t a bad idea. If you don’t like it, the best thing to do is remove it. It isn’t difficult to do even if you don’t have a lot of experience. The problem comes when you are adding something else.
Because other options, like drywall or plaster, are difficult to do if you have never done it before. You can always hire a professional, which is highly recommended if you are hesitant. They can get the job done in no time.
Of course, you will also pay a lot more to have someone do it for your than you would to just pay for materials. So if you can do it, then painting paneling is a job that can be done in one day with a partner.