Painting Over Wood Paneling

At one time, wood paneling was a popular choice of wall covering. But, that was thirty years ago. Today, wood paneling is outdated and homeowners are left with one of two choices - remove it or paint over it. Both options come with their own set of problems and considerations. But of the two, painting is probably the most common choice.

If you’re planning on painting over wood paneling, there are certain steps you need to take to prep the paneling so all your effort isn’t for naught. Follow these steps and by the time you’re finished, your room will be looking clean, fresh and back in vogue.

Step 1: Clean the wood paneling very thoroughly. Odds are that paneling has been in place for a few decades, and wood paneling has a reputation for collecting grease, dust and oil. Use a heavy-duty cleaning spray to remove the dirt. It may require two cleanings for really dirty paneling, like that found in a kitchen.

Step 2: Rinse the paneling thoroughly. Use clean water to get rid of all traces of the cleaning product before you start painting. The paneling can never be too clean!

Step 3: Sand the paneling. This is especially important if the wood paneling has a glossy finish. Use sandpaper to remove the glossy layer so the primer will stick to the paneling. Do not use a steel wool pad to sand the paneling as it will leave behind metal strands that will rust beneath the paint, causing problems down the road. When the sanding is finished; clean the paneling again using only a cloth and clean water (no cleaning agents).

Step 4: Apply the primer. Use a brush and roller to evenly apply the primer over the wood paneling. If the paneling is a dark color, use a “block-out” primer. This primer is designed to cover dark surfaces in one coat and it will help prevent the paneling’s dark color from leaking through the primer and paint layers. Allow the primer to completely dry before applying the paint.

Step 5: Paint the wood paneling. Apply two coats of your chosen paint to the wood paneling. Two coats is ideal as it helps prevent against scratches and stains.

Dave Donovan is a freelance copywriter living in Atco, N.J. An electrician for 15 years, an injury forced him to pursue his true passion - writing.