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 homes formal dining room, the den (especially), or the
family game room.
But if its in the home and needs to go, its 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
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 its gouged or nicked up, smooth it out using wood putty and then
Now remove any switch and electrical outlet covers. Store them somewhere handy so they can be
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
painters tape, not regular masking tape. Painters 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
Painting the Paneling
As soon as the primer is dry, its 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
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 painters tape and replacing all of the switch plate and electrical outlet covers. Now
its time to hang the pictures!