Instructions for Painting Over Wood Paneling

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Home Improvement

If you live in an older house, it’s likely that your basement and den/playroom have dark wooden paneling on the walls which have become drab and worn. However, you don’t want to remove the paneling, but you can paint over it. Painting over paneling is a feasible option and isn’t too difficult. Here are the instructions to give your room a new look.

Materials Required:

  • Paint
  • Primer
  • Joint compound (powder or pre-mixed)
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint brush or roller
  • Putty knife
  • Plastic drop cloth
  • Soap and water
  • Sponge

Follow these steps:

  1. Take all the furniture out of the room. If that’s not possible, move the furniture away from the walls and cover it with plastic drop-cloths.
  2. Remove all the plates on the switches and outlets. Check the walls for any protruding nails.
  3. Clean the walls thoroughly with a soapy solution to get rid of any dust and grease. Rinse with clean water.
  4. Mix the joint compound with water, as per packaging instructions. If you’re using pre-mixed compound you can skip this step.
  5. Fill all the grooves in the paneling with a thick, uniform layer of compound. Let it dry for 24 hours.
  6. Scrape and sand down the excess compound after the compound is dry. Make the compound smooth and level with the panel.
  7. Lightly sand down all the paneling to remove any grease. This will help the primer adhere better.
  8. Apply a thin coat of primer. Let it dry for at least 12 hours. Since most paneling has a glossy finish, you will probably have to apply a second and thicker coat of primer to hold the paint. Let the second coat dry for 12 hours. Again, due to the glossy finish, a good quality primer is necessary.
  9. Paint over the paneling once the second coat of primer has dried. Usually three coats of paint are necessary to completely cover the paneling. You must let the paint dry between each application [sources: Lifestyle, DIY Network].


1. What is paneling?

Paneling is a type of wall covering made of wood, vinyl, or other materials. It is usually installed in large sheets or panels and can be found in homes from the 1950s and 60s.

2. Why would someone want to paint over paneling?

Many people choose to paint over paneling to update the look of a room without having to remove the paneling. It is also a more cost-effective solution than replacing the paneling with drywall.

3. What supplies do I need to paint over paneling?

You will need sandpaper, primer, paint, paintbrushes, and rollers, as well as any necessary tools for removing hardware from the paneling.

4. How do I prepare the paneling for painting?

You should start by cleaning the paneling with a degreaser or TSP (trisodium phosphate) solution. Next, sand the paneling lightly to create a smooth surface for the primer and paint to adhere to.

5. Do I need to use a primer?

Yes, it is important to use a primer specifically designed for paneling to ensure proper adhesion and coverage. This will also help to seal any knots or imperfections in the wood.

6. What type of paint should I use?

You should use a high-quality latex paint that is specifically designed for use on paneling. This type of paint will provide a durable finish that can withstand wear and tear.

7. How many coats of paint will I need to apply?

You will likely need to apply at least two coats of paint to achieve full coverage. However, this can vary depending on the color and type of paint you are using.

8. Should I paint the trim and molding?

Yes, it is recommended to paint the trim and molding to create a more cohesive look in the room. You can use the same paint color as the paneling or choose a contrasting color for added visual interest.

9. Can I paint over wallpapered paneling?

No, it is not recommended to paint over wallpapered paneling. The wallpaper can cause the paint to peel or bubble, and it can also create an uneven surface.

10. How long will it take to paint over paneling?

The length of time will depend on the size of the room and the complexity of the paneling. However, most projects can be completed in a weekend with proper preparation and planning.

11. Can I hire a professional to paint over my paneling?

Yes, you can hire a professional painter to paint over your paneling if you are not comfortable doing it yourself. They will have the necessary tools and expertise to complete the job quickly and efficiently.

12. Are there any special precautions I should take when painting over paneling?

It is important to ensure proper ventilation when painting, as the fumes can be harmful. You should also wear protective clothing, such as gloves and goggles, to avoid skin and eye irritation. Finally, be sure to follow all safety guidelines when using tools and equipment.

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