Painting Wood Paneling

Category Walls
Wood panels on your walls can be revived by painting. This page is about painting wood paneling.


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

February 28, 2011

Is there any way to fill in the grooves in wall paneling before you paint?

By sandra from Mount Laurel, NJ


February 28, 20110 found this helpful

You must mean the grooves or small holes in wall paneling. Fill them in with wood filler that you can buy in any store such as Home Depot, etc.

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March 1, 20110 found this helpful

Wood filler, available near the paint at Walmart for about $5 a container, is a good bet for the dips where the lines in the paneling are. You will need a putty knife to smooth the surface and make it even with the rest of the panel. Wait a couple of hours and then you can paint it, or run a sander along to make perfectly smooth and THEN paint it.


Will take a little extra time but the results are worth it. I used wood filler and a sander on a cedar playground set I got for free, and turned it into something beautiful and usable once again. Best of luck with your project!
Will be easier to paint if you put a layer of Kilz on it first :).

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March 1, 20110 found this helpful

Personally, I like the look of painted paneling with the groves. I see it all the time on decorating shows and magazines. I think it gives the wall character.

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March 2, 20110 found this helpful

I have an old house and one wall in each room was paneled with ugly stuff. I just primed it and painted it. If you try to fill it in it will probably come back out in pieces if the wall is hit or from eventual shrinkage.


Most people don't even realize the walls have paneling on them.

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March 6, 20110 found this helpful

You can pick up paintable wall paper liner to put on first, then paint it. All wallpaper books have the instructions when wallpapering over panelling. I pick this up to put on 'failing walls' on older house walls. Seals it nice, lets to wall paper or paint over it.

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July 28, 2011

My dining room has wood (the real stuff) paneling and I want to give it a face lift. I am looking for a simple way to lighten the wood without re-stripping the whole room or painting over such quality wood. Does anyone have a fairly simple solution to my problem?


By K~K

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

February 28, 2011

I have wood paneling in my back room. How do I paint it? Do I do it like normal or is there something I put on it first to make the paint stick better? I also need to know what type of paint is easy to clean messes off of. Thanks.

By Unfrivolus Fawn from Tucson, AZ


Painting Wood Paneling

If you Google "painting wood paneling" there are a ton of options. I've been following this couple's journey as they have revamped/remodeled their home and here's how they recommend one paints paneling:

Their way isn't the only way, but their home looks awesome for being the young couple they are and just jumped into revamping their home and post about what works and what doesn't work for them. (05/15/2010)


By LizO

Painting Wood Paneling

We used a good primer over the paneling prior to painting and then just a normal indoor, washable paint for the walls. I've washed them a few times and even scrubbed around where the light switches are and never had any problems with the paint coming off. Be aware that primer stinks way more than paint so you'll want to prime with your doors and windows open until it dries, if you can. Also, you'll need turpentine or the equivalent to clean your brushes after priming because it doesn't wash out with just soap and water the way some wall paints do. (07/03/2010)

By kjablue

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May 14, 2010

We have 70's era dark paneling in the kitchen, a stainless steel back splash, sink, and stove top. The appliances are off white and the flooring and counter tops are an off-white to tan pattern.


The largest wall leads out into the living room which has walls that are a light cedar tongue in groove. I want to paint the kitchen paneling. Any suggestions for color? Thanks.

By Julie Milam from WV


Painting Over Paneling


I have paneled rooms. I am thinking of painting the paneling. What suggestions can I get regarding paint and other tips for painting paneling. I am also a little worried because two of the rooms have paneling that "shines". What product would cover it best?



Painting Over Paneling

We had the same problem and tackled each room in a different manner. One area, we filled in the cracks and painted over it. This was a lot of work, but you can't tell that it is paneling.

The other wall, we filled in the cracks and painted over, then put textured wall paper over it and painted again. This is a lot of arm work, also.

Then we did the same, except we put textured mix over the wall. Then in one area we just painted the wall board.

Last but not least, we put thin sheets of drywall over the paneling and mudded and taped. This was the easiest.

Charlene (Guest Post)

Painting Over Paneling

First, you want to hand wash each wall with TSP, available at your local home improvement store. This process goes quickly. You don't have to scrub, just sponge over it. This removes the grease, smoke, etc. residue to give you a clean start.

Then you have to prime the surface with BINZ or KILZ. Also available at your local home improvement store. Again, this process goes quickly.

Lastly, you paint. The biggest challenge I encountered was getting the paint into the grooves. I purchased an expensive foam roller specially made for rough surfaces such as stucco. I was very disappointed. I ended up using a foam corner roller which I got for about $3 and just went up and down each crevice once or twice.

It really does totally change the look of the room, more modern, less dated and brighter. It really looks like expensive painted bead-board, not cheap 70's paneling.

Guest Post

Painting Over Paneling

We recently painted all of the wood paneling in our home. We had lots of it. Use a primer first, then use a good quality of whatever color you desire. We used the Behr paints from Home Depot because our son, who does lots of renovations, said that would cover better. For the shiny paneling, lightly sand by hand or a sander before applying the primer. Our paneling was a medium brown. Darker paneling may need more than one coat. Hope this helps.

Dottie Rae (Guest Post)

Painting Over Paneling

Years ago I painted a paneled room, too. After the primer, I used textured paint. You could still see the grooves, but it looked great. The rough texture really added depth and dimension.

Ginnee (Guest Post)

Painting Over Paneling

We bought a house last year and are still in the process of remodeling.

We painted over paneling in the nursery, but did not use a high quality primer, big mistake. The paint peels off at the slightest snag. We painted over paneling in the living room with a higher quality primer, specifically made for paneling and that seems to have worked better. My biggest complaint is the seams have cracks in the paint now.

We discovered a wallpaper product called "PaperIllusion" earlier this year where you rip the paper in random sized pieces, dip it in water and hang on the primed wall. It works great over paneling, provided you prep the paneling correctly. I've hung the product on a door and it's super easy to install and the faux finish effect is quite stunning.

We have a large room in our finished basement covered in paneling which we want to convert to a home theater. I plan to try this Paper Illusions wallpaper down there next.

If you're interested, you can find out more about this product here.

I love it

By Carrie Wigal

Painting Over Paneling

I agree. Kilz is the best step, then a good paint. We have done almost every room in our old house and in my son's room we did a crackle process and it looks really cool over the old paneling. There was many steps to it, but the bedroom is small, so it was not too bad. Cleaned, then Kilzed, then the base color, then the top color, then the crackle. We did a yellow underneath and black over the top. The yellow shows though the crackle and you barely notice that it is paneling. (06/28/2005)

Gwen (Guest Post)

By ThriftyFun

Painting Over Paneling

My sister-in-law filled in all the grooves with spackle and she wallpapered over the paneling and it looked great. (03/02/2006)

By Paula

Painting Over Paneling

We painted over the paneling upstairs in both bedrooms. One bedroom we primed, painted the bottom 3rd of the wall in navy the rest in white. I then put baseball border around the room where the different colors meet. The other bedroom was about the same only we used a rust at the bottom and a different border. They look really good. Make sure you use a good primer or the paint won't stick very well. (03/02/2006)

By Janice

Painting Over Paneling

We painted the paneling in 4 rooms of our house about 8 years ago and it's still holding up fine. I decided to try a water based primer, Bullseye 1-2-3 instead of an oil base like Kilz and it worked great. We didn't fill in the grooves since the house sits on sandy soil and will continue to settle forever. I'm quite fond of the grooves. They add an interesting texture to the walls.

I've noticed magazine photos recently where decorators have installed paneling to paint over for the nice texture. I did use oil based primer to paint over garish wallpaper since it had to also hide a print as well as give the wall "tooth" for the paint to adhere to. I've also never messed with TSP on paneling, even the real shiny kind. Works fine. (03/03/2006)

By Miz Lou

Painting Over Paneling

I painted over all the paneling in my house. It looks so much better then it did before. Here is a photo of my living room. The top is Navajo white, the bottom is red, red, wine, and the middle stripe is just a flat black (cheaper then adding a chair rail.) (07/11/2007)

By Debbie

RE: Painting Over Paneling

Painting Over Paneling

I used a good primer like Kilz; then I textured 2 walls and left 2 untextured. Actually, the untextured looked better. The lines in the smooth texture gave the room a cool look. However, I did lightly sand the paneling before the Kilz step. The room is a sport's room for my son, and he loved it. (07/29/2007)

By Dana

Painting Over Paneling

We used a liquid sander which we applied to the paneling first. It took off anything that would interfere with the paint and left a good surface to paint on. We bought a good brand paint and have never had a problem. If your paneling is a dark color, you may have to paint it twice. (11/27/2007)

By Sandy

Prep is the key

Make sure you get all the prep work done right. If you don't want to see the grooves in the paneling, be sure to either spackle or caulk over them before you prime.

Make sure to use a block-out primer, not a regular primer to stop that dark paneling from bleeding through your finish coat color. This site has step by step instructions on how to paint paneling: (03/30/2008)

By Mike

Painting Over Paneling

I am in the process of painting my paneling and I read that spackling the seams and grooves will cause it to shrink and crack over time. So I am using drywall tape to the seams and grooves. So far it is working great. (01/18/2009)

By Diane

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February 11, 2010

We are inheriting 70's era wood-laminate paneling in our dining room. We want to white wash it. Does anyone know if whitewash will even adhere to wood paneling?

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June 23, 2009

My kitchen is all white--white tile countertops, cabinets, frig, oven and walls.

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