Your Paneling is Outdated and Needs Painting ASAP

Blog title superimposed over a photo of a living room with paneled wooden walls
Starting in the 1950s, and on through the 70s, the installation of paneling on the interior walls became very trendy. Many homeowners gravitated toward wood paneling because of the material’s inexpensive price and simple installation. Many people appreciated the warmth and depth of the paneling. Although wood paneling has begun to make a comeback, for many people, the dark tones of most paneling can make a space seem gloomy and claustrophobic. If you’re not feeling that everything-old-is-new-again cycle of life, it may be time to make a change. The first choice for many homeowners may be to rip out the paneling or cover it with drywall.

However, if you are working on a budget, both of these solutions take time and drive up your cost. As long as the paneling is in good condition, and with the proper preparation, you can paint over the paneling. Painting wall paneling is simple, but making it look good requires the correct preparation. Here are some tips to help you update the paneling in your home.

How to Paint Veneer Paneling that Flexes

Unless the installer glued the veneer or plywood paneling to the wall, over time, the boards have a tendency to flex if you apply pressure to the surface with your hand. To avoid problems down the line, do not fill the grooves with filler because the material will eventually dislodge. Follow these steps when painting veneer paneling that flexes:

  1. Wash: Use a solution of TSP cleaner and water to clean the paneling.
  2. Sand: Veneer paneling has a glossy surface, which makes it difficult for paint to adhere to it properly. Use 120 grit (medium grit) sandpaper to sand the surface.
  3. Prime: Apply a high-quality primer and allow the surface to dry. If the primer does not adhere to the paneling, sand the surface again and apply another coat of primer.
  4. Paint: Apply a minimum of two coats of latex paint.

The grooves in the paneling will be less pronounced, but the overall appearance will be noticeable.

How to Resurface and Paint Veneer Plywood

If your veneer paneling is rigid and stable, you can create a smooth surface by using joint compound to fill in the grooves on the boards. Start by following the first three steps as outlined above. After you apply the primer, fill in the grooves with joint compound. The primer provides a uniform surface, which helps the joint compound to adhere to the paneling. Allow the joint compound to dry and shrink overnight. Then, follow the steps outlined below:

  • Apply additional coats of joint compound —in thin layers—until you fill the gaps.
  • Sand with medium grit sandpaper.
  • Apply a coat of latex primer.

Use two coats of high-quality latex paint to complete the project.

Painting Solid Wood Paneling

When painting solid wood paneling fabricated from individual V-groove or tongue-in-groove boards, do not put filler in the gaps in the boards. The weather causes the paneling to contract and expand, which causes the filler to fall out. Simply, wash, sand, and prime the paneling before painting. Solid wood paneling fabricated from knotty pine needs a stain-blocking primer or a primer with a shellac or oil base, which keeps the resin in the wood from bleeding through the topcoat.

Call in the Professionals

Five Star Painting specializes in large and small interior and exterior painting projects. We service both residential and commercial customers. We can help you create the appearance you desire while delivering superior customer satisfaction. If you prefer to call in the professionals to update the paneling in your home or other painting projects, schedule with us today!

For further reading on how you can launch an “out with the old, in with the new” project, read about our wallpaper removal services.