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How to Paint Paneling


Renovate your walls without removing the paneling; Just Skim, Prime, and Paint!

© 2008 by ; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission. Author’s Google profile

A Kid Painting Paneling


This article explains how to paint paneling. If the walls and shag carpeting make the home look sad, fix the walls without removing the paneling. Skim, prime, and paint!

This is an easy job to do yourself if you don’t want to hire a contractor.

There was a time when paneling was much more in style than it is today. Around the 50s and the 60s it was a big thing to install paneling in the home’s formal dining room, the den (especially), or the family game room.

But if it’s in the home and needs to go, it’s best to remove the paneling, refinish the drywall underneath, re-texture, and finally re-paint. However — this is a load of work. Anyone wanting to take an easier route, read on, and learn how to paint paneling; an easy DIY project. The steps are similar to painting a new sheetrock wall.

Another possible scenario involves new home construction. The new home owners may just decide that the wood color is cozy, but it makes the room too dark, as well as creating the sense of a much smaller space.

Prep the Paneling Prior to Painting it

Paneling is either solid wood paneling (most expensive), a hardwood veneer, or the cheapest stuff — press board with a wood “picture” on it. The initial task is to prep the paneling surface. Is the paneling damaged in any way? If it’s gouged or nicked up, smooth it out using wood putty and then sand lightly.

Now remove any switch and electrical outlet covers. Store them somewhere handy so they can be re-installed later.

Paneling commonly has vertical paneling grooves. If the goal is to a smooth or textured look, skim the paneling surface with mud (drywall compound). Two coats may be needed. Sand until smooth.

Paint the Wall with Primer

The next step is to paint the wall with primer. The purpose is to leave the wall with a good surface for the paint to stick to. The choice of which type of paint will be used dictates the kind of primer to use, oil-based or water-based latex primer. The difference is important.

If the paneling has been damaged from smoke or any water, use a primer-sealer containing a stain blocker. This will also prevent against “cedar bleed”.

Begin by masking off the edge of the baseboard and any door or window trim. Be sure to use quality painter’s tape, not regular masking tape. Painter’s tape is easily removed after both the primer and the paint has dried. Masking tape will take off the dried paint in spots. Better safe than sorry.

Painting the Paneling

As soon as the primer is dry, it’s time for painting the paneling! The highest quality paint will cover in one coat. Decide which sheen of paint will be used. Paneling painted with an eggshell sheen or a satin sheen is the best idea. Or in a kitchen, a semi-gloss is a good choice because of its ease of cleaning.

Using a lower quality paint will result in needing two coats of paint. In this case, give the first coat time to dry completely and then roll out the second coat.

Finishing the Paneling Painting Project

When the second coat has finished drying, finish the paneling painting project by carefully removing the painter’s tape and replacing all of the switch plate and electrical outlet covers. Now it’s time to hang the pictures!


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