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Wood Panel Wall - Check Best Ideas on How to Paint Wood Paneling

Wood paneling was a very popular interior design element of 1970s and 1980s. It was cheap and relatively quick to instal. Such a decoration still remains in many apartments. Wanting to renovate the apartment, many homeowners decide to get rid of this element completely. There is, however, another solution, not only quicker but also less expensive. Instead of removing the boards, you can simply change their colour. All you need is a good paint, and you will be able to change the looks of the interior. Additionally, painted white or cream panelling perfectly matches the current trends and is characteristic e.g. for Scandinavian style. Check how to paint wood panelling - we have prepared a few suggestions.

Wood Panel Wall - Check Best Ideas on How to Paint Wood Paneling

Why painting a wood paneling?

Wood paneling was one of the biggest trends of interior design during the last century. Natural wood boards were installed on walls in halls, kitchens and living rooms. Nowadays, however, wood paneling is considered old-fashioned, and the dark color is overwhelming.

Many homeowners remove those elements when renovating a room. It might be, however, a time-consuming and costly task. The uncovered walls are often damaged, uneven and scratched and might require further, usually costly improvements. Are there any ways that will help you liquidate an ugly wood wall? Of course - it’s simpler than you think. Painted wood paneling in a favourite color is a perfect solution. A well-matched paint can make the paneling look elegant and modern - despite the passing of time.

Why painting a wood paneling?

Wood paneling is becoming popular again. For this reason the boards are quite often left on walls and painted to new, brighter colours. The contemporary interior design styles favour such solution. Scandinavian style, for instance, combines natural materials and simplicity, so painted wooden boards will be perfect in this case.

Painting wall paneling is very easy and quick to do. Refreshed wall boards in a new colour might be an interesting and original element in an interior, e.g. in a Scandinavian style kitchen.

Choosing the right paint for wood paneling

The previous era favoured brown and dark coloured boards. The wood paneling was usually coated only with varnish or wood stain. Such an interior design does not fit the contemporary standards. What is the reason for that? First, it is far too dark and too heavy, especially if boards cover not only walls but also the ceiling. For this reason, painting wood paneling in a brighter color is a recommended solution. It’s a good idea to make the interior bigger and brighter.

Types of paint you can use when painting wood paneling - examples

If you’re wondering how to paint wood paneling, remember that the right paint is key. The following products are recommended for painting wood wall paneling:

  • Wood and metal acrylic paint - it is thinned with water and therefore does not generate unpleasant smell. Such products are safe for health and dry pretty fast. The final layer is smooth and solid.
  • Typical wood products - varnish, wax and oil for wood is a good solution if you want to keep the natural looks of the wood. If you want the wood paneling to have a certain colour, use a coloured wood stain.
  • Chalk paint - products of this type dries very quick and are very safe to use. A big advantage is a wide variety of pastel colours that will result in an interesting finish of the boards. Using chalk paint on wood paneling means covering the natural wood lines completely.

Choosing the right paint for wood paneling

How to paint wood paneling? Step by step

Painting wood paneling is not a complicated task. You should finish the work by one afternoon. Such renovation usually does not take more than one weekend. Having chosen the right product for your wood panel wall, one should prepare accordingly. The result highly depends on the proper preparation. If you prepare everything properly, painting paneling will be less frustrating for you. You will also save your time.

Preparing the surface

Before you can cover your wood paneling with paint, you should pay attention to its surface. Similar as when you paint furniture, the wood should be cleaned of any dirt. The boards shall be cleaned from dirt and dust. The old layers of paint and varnish must be thoroughly sanded - this way the fresh paint will stick better to the surface.

Sanding the old surface is essential if you want to keep the natural look of the wood. If the old layers peel and fall off the surface, they need to be removed completely by thorough sanding. Otherwise, just smoothening the boards is enough.

To smoothen or clean the boards use coarse sanding paper. For large surfaces, it is good to use a disc grinder (polishing machine). Under no circumstance use wire brushes, as they could seriously damage the wooden surface of the boards.

After finishing the sanding, the room should be thoroughly vacuumed. Wipe the wood paneling with a damp cloth to remove dust from them. Any dents and holes should be filled with wood adhesive.

The whole process is similar to furniture restoration. So, if you alreadyy have an experience with a cupboard renovation or restoring wooden furniture - you won’t have any issues with painting wood paneling.

Preparing the surface

Painting wood paneling - where to start?

One of the most important matters when painting wood paneling is following the paint manufacturer’s instructions. When using acrylic paint, it is advised to apply a wood primer beforehand. Such product protects the wood paneling, reduces the paint absorption and improves its adhesion to the surface. It is best to choose a product from the same manufacturer as the paint you are going to use for your wood paneling.

You may start painting the wood paneling right after the primer dries.

If the boards are narrow, a small brush will suffice; to paint wider paneling, use a paint roller. Choosing the right tool is the half of the success, when it comes to painting wood paneling.

The paint dries quickly - you can apply the next layers approximately after an hour. Wood paneling requires 2-3 layers of paint.

Painting wood paneling - where to start?

How to paint wood paneling without sanding the surface?

Sanding old layers of paint or varnish is time-consuming and quite difficult. It is possible, however, to paint wood paneling without the necessity of smoothening the boards. In such a case, it is best to use chalk paint, as it sticks well to every type of surface. Such paint dries substantially quicker than other types - in most cases one can apply another layer after 20 minutes. Painting wood paneling without sanding has many advantages, e.g. less cleaning as there is no dust generated while sanding the surface.

Chalk paint used for wood paneling is useful if you plan to distress the wooden boards. After using the paint remember to cover your paneling with a protective layer of varnish or wax.

How to paint wood paneling without sanding the surface?

Painted wood paneling - white or colour?

The most popular choice for restoring wood paneling is white. Such colour fits plenty of styles, for instance scandinavian, minimalist or rustic. If you find white too cold, it is good to choose pastel colours, such as light blue, beige or cream.

Bright colours are perfect for enlightening a room and making it visually bigger. Such shades are the best choice for narrow hallways and foyers. This is where you can most often find wood paneling on the wall. Painting paneling gives a lot of possibilities in this case. The home interior design will look really good.

Strong colours work best in spacious and well illuminated interiors. For such rooms you can use for instance dark blue or green colours. Choose them, however, very carefully, as it is easy to overwhelm the interior with too dark shades. If you decided to use a single colour it is a good idea to mix its various tones. It looks particularly interesting with matte finishes.

Painting wood paneling is not a difficult task, therefore it is worth trying. Such solution might be better than removing the old boards. A good paint will refresh your wood panel wall, making it a stylish home decoration. If you consider painting wood paneling, make sure you pick the right colour, which accentuates the whole interior.

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📍 How to paint over wood paneling?

After choosing the right paint, prepare the surface by sanding or smoothing it. When painting, follow the paint manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Remember to keep all the surfaces clean and undusted.

📍 How to paint wood paneling with grooves?

If you want to hide the grooves on your wood paneling, you should fill them with joint compound. Then sand the surface until smooth and paint it. You might also leave the grooves and simply paint the planks to change their colour.

📍 How to make wood paneling look modern?

If the paneling is dark, paint it in bright colours, for instance white. Seek inspiration in modern styles, such as scandinavian or minimalist.

📍 How to cover wood paneling?

To completely hide wood paneling, fill the grooves with joint compound and smoothen it once it’s dry. If done properly, painted wood paneling should look no different than a solid wall.