How to Paint Wood Paneling

If you have recently bought an older home with wood paneling or your current home already has this feature, upgrading it might be something that’s come across your mind. While some wood paneling can be a nice touch, too much can feel overwhelming. 

Some older paneling is made of inferior wood or other synthetic material and may not look great. But you don’t have to remove it, you can paint over wood paneling to achieve the look of a brand-new room.

Should You Paint Your Wood Paneling?

Old wood paneling that is veneer should be painted over. It can be messy and expensive to remove and replace with something else. If it is still in decent shape, then a coat of paint will give it a refreshed new look.

If it is good quality wood, then you may want to consider other options. Dark wood paneling can be stripped and stained so it is much lighter – this will change the dimensions and the look of the room considerably. If the paneling has already been painted, make sure you get the existing paint tested for lead or other toxins. It could have been applied years ago and needs special care to remove it.

How to Paint Wood Paneling
Paint Your Wood Paneling

Equipment You’ll Need

If you have decided to go ahead and paint your wood paneling, then you will need some equipment before you get started. The first step is getting enough paint to cover all the areas of the paneling you are going to paint.

It is recommended that you opt for a good oil-based primer to protect the paneling and stop it from seeping through. You need different paint for the trim, the paneling, window frames, and anything else in the room that is a different material.

You will also need these materials:

  • Paint tray and rollers
  • Paint brushes
  • Sandpaper
  • Caulk and caulking gun
  • Wood filler
  • Putty knife
  • Cleaning rags
  • Heavy-duty cleaner
  • Paint thinner or cleaner
  • Masks, if needed
  • Dropcloth

Your tools and equipment will vary slightly. Depending on the size of your job you may need heavier equipment for sanding.

paint on wood panels
Clean Moulding and Paneling 

Clean Moulding and Paneling 

There may be years of stale smoke, grease, and other grimy substances that are on the walls. Give them a good cleaning before you paint your paneling. If there is a lot of grease or smoke, use a cleanser that will cut through the grime.

You never want to paint over dirt as it will show and can also cause the paint to peel off or not stay on at all. Once it’s been cleaned, let it dry out before starting with the next step.

Fill and Sand Wood

Use your putty knife and putty to fill in any holes, cracks, or other uneven spots. Once it is dry you may want to sand it down so the surface is smooth. Larger areas of damage will need to be smoothed over.

You may not have to sand it down, but if you have a lot of damage, the putty can dry unevenly and have a rough surface. You don’t want that showing through the paint.

sanding wood panels
wooden stairs

Caulk Around Trim

Use your caulk to fill in any wide gaps in or between the panels. Fill in spaces around the trim as well as the window and door frames.

Make sure the caulking you use can be painted over.

Prime Wood

Using your roller, prime the walls with good-quality paint.

You will likely need to use your brush to fill in the seams, corners, and other awkward spots your roller can’t reach.

house front stair deck painting
3D Wall Panels

Paint Paneling

Once your primer is dry, you can start painting the wood paneling. Cover the entire wall evenly and don’t apply the paint too thick. Be sure to wipe away any drips as you go.

It may look great after one coat, but allow it to dry completely and apply a second coat. This is how to paint wood paneling so it looks much better. Once it dries, darker patches may show through.

Paint Trim 

Once you are happy with the painted wood paneling, you can paint the trim.

People often choose a colour that is slightly darker to add a bit of contrast, but that is up to you.

Loby wall trim paint

Contact the Pros

If the steps listed above seem like it may be a lot of work, it’s time to call the professionals at Prestige Painting. If you have any questions or want your wood paneling painted by the pros, contact us here at Prestige Painting. We can give you the right advice on how to paint your wood paneling or we can come in and do it for you.