How to Paint Wood Paneling

A fresh coat of paint can make a massive difference in the look of any room, but painting wood-paneled walls are more than just slapping on some latex. Whether you have bare wood, dark wood, or natural wood paneling, we have helpful tips to know before you get started.

Paint will cover the flaws on the surface of the wooden paneling. The whole procedure of coating the wooden paneling should be done with care. Otherwise, you will create more problems. The secret is not to rush the job or be careless with the materials you choose. As long as you follow good furniture-painting guidelines, you shouldn’t have any paint leaking or staining issues.

Even if you are not a professional painter, you can do this job by following these steps. Read this article to know how to paint wood wall paneling in your house.

1) Cleaning

Begin by spraying the entire surface with light coats of TSP to distribute the paint evenly. Allow the walls to dry (break air bubbles) before beginning the painting process. Work with primary drywall to avoid dripping paint onto other areas of the paneling, as this could cause stains or compromising the painting process. Use an air freshener if the room is particularly smoky or crowded; it may also help to diffuse any dust found on

Before you get started painting, it’s critical to understand the potential health risks involved in doing so. Paintings, even when sealed with varnish, can contain harmful chemicals and fumes. Therefore use protective gear, proper rubber gloves, glasses, clothing, and a respiratory mask. Also, make sure the room is well ventilated.

Note: Allow plenty of time for drying time between coats. Allow the entire surface to air dry before beginning work on another project as wood rises and attracts dust quickly!

2) Fill Holes and Grooves

Use a caulk/spackling mix when possible to fill holes and grooves. Putty knives do an excellent job of creating waterproof joints and fixing moisture-damaged boards together. The caulk helps fill tiny air bubbles present in the wood and prevent future rot and decay.

3) Sanding

Sandpaper Type: 220-grit sandpaper

Motion: even circular motions

Time: 20-30 minutes

Begin by choosing an area that will be lightly sanded. Evenly distribute the sand across the surface of the wood plank so that no chips will be exposed. Work lightly so as not to destroy the natural grain of the wood. With a pencil, trace an outline of the desired pattern on the backside of one side of the wood paneling. Use a second piece of wood for reference. Continue until you have completed all the outlines.

Note: Make sure you are wearing a mask to prevent the dust from going into your mouth. Also, you can wear safety glasses and gloves.

4) Use drop cloths and painter’s tape to protect the floor from paint splash.

Two of the easiest ways to protect your floor from paint splatter is to use drop cloths and painter’s tape. Drop cloths are precisely what they sound like: they’re large pieces of fabric used to protect them from paint splash.

Therefore, consider using painter’s tape to protect the floor from splatter when painting a wooden wall panel. Paint splatter can lead to scratches and damage to the finish, leading to wear to the furniture or walls themselves.

5) Apply two thin coats of stain-blocking primer.

Next, apply two thin coats of stain-blocking primer to the areas that have been stained and smooth. Use a damp rag to remove any excess paint that’s pooled at the edge. Sanding and primer application should be undertaken after the surface has been thoroughly dry-paneled.

It would help if you used the proper primer. If you have solid wood, you want to use a water-based product (never use synthetic varnish or table finishes that contain chemicals). For veneer, use a shellac-based product.

While it isn’t necessary, a primer can improve your wood paneling look and cover any visible defects. Your best bet for a good color match is to have the primer tinted to even the color you ultimately intend to paint the wood paneling. One thing you should look out for is whether or not the primer contains stain-blocking ingredients. If this is the case, you likely won’t see visible knots in your paneling when it’s sanded and painted.

  • Use a 2-inch angled brush(sash to cut in at edges, then hold it near to pat away drips as you work.
  • Change to a roller with remaining paintwork.
  • You can use a foam sponge roller cover during the process.
  • Be sure to check the primer package for specific instructions on the time you should wait.

6) Apply thin coats of paint(at least two).

Just like painting a regular wall, you need to use two coats of paint to cover the wood. The thicker the paint layer, the thicker the protection it provides. Apply thin coats to protect existing stains and rough handling of the paint by others. Once the paint has dried, sand down any rough areas that might still be visible using sandpaper.


Wood paneling is a classic finishing material for walls and ceilings, but it can look worn and dated as time goes by. Thankfully, painting wood paneling is an affordable and accessible option that can dramatically improve your home. If you need to paint the wood paneling, you should consider a few points given above before getting started.

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