What Kind of Paint Do I Use to Paint Paneling?


Painting panelling rather than ripping it out and rebuilding it with sheetrock is a more cost-effective and time-efficient choice. Simply applying a new coat of paint to a room is all that is required to make it go from being dim and out of date to being a light and modern space. This is a project that can be finished in a weekend.


Wood panelling should be painted using latex paint, a stain-blocking primer, and water-based primer.

Paint for Wood Paneling

Before you begin painting, you must first decide if the panelling in the room is real wood or veneer. Paneling made of wood may either be one solid piece of wood that has been planed specifically for use as panelling, or it can be formed by pressing together many layers of wood to make panels. The layers are referred to as veneers, but the top layer of a wood panelling product is actually made of wood. Less costly veneers feature a surface layer that is not composed of wood but rather from another substance, such as vinyl that has been printed to seem like wood.

When working with solid wood, Bob Vila suggests using a stain-blocking primer that is water-based; however, he suggests using a primer that is shellac-based when working with veneers or panelling that has knots. This stops colour from leaking through the paint from the knots in the wood. Making sure that the colour of the primer matches the colour of the top coat helps to guarantee that the wall is completed evenly. When applying the top coat, use latex paint. Ensure that you get sufficient primer and paint so that you can apply two coats of each. You may estimate the amount of paint you’ll need, use a paint calculator available online, or consult the knowledgeable staff at a paint shop. According to PPG Paints, one gallon of paint is sufficient to cover about 400 square feet.

Preparing Paneling for Paint

To begin, use wood putty or spackle to patch up any nail holes or other small faults in the panelling. Sand these areas until they are smooth, and then wash the panelling with warm soapy water. To clean the walls, use a solution of water and trisodium phosphate (TSP), which can be purchased at any hardware shop. This solution should be used if the panelling is oily or very unclean. The panels should then be rinsed and allowed to dry. Put down drop cloths, tape off the moulding, and take off the covers of the switches and outlets. Because TSP is powerful substance, dealing with it requires that you utilise safety equipment and keep the area well ventilated.

The procedure of smoothing the grooves in the panelling is laborious but quite basic. It is also not required in any way if the grooves do not affect you in any way. Putty knife work is required to distribute spackle into the grooves in order to get the desired smooth surface. Remove the excess with a scraper and then wait for it to cure for a full day before deciding whether to use a caulking gun and caulk to fill the grooves. After the caulk or spackle has had enough time to cure, the area should be sanded gently so that the surface is entirely smooth.

Although Bob Vila acknowledges that contemporary primers are typically excellent enough that sanding the panelling prior to applying the first coat of primer is normally not essential, he still suggests giving the panelling a minor scuffing with sandpaper that has a grain size of 220-grit. Put on a face mask and be sure to clean off the dust when you’re done.

Painting Wood Paneling

First, prepare the grooves with a brush (if you’ve decided to leave them in their original form), and then cut in the margins of the wall with the brush. To apply the first layer of primer, switch to a roller and start painting at the top of the wall and work your way down. If you want to know how long you should wait for the first layer of primer to dry, check the instructions on the paint container. Apply a second layer when the first one has had a chance to dry. Always have a little brush on available so that you can clean up any drips or sags, particularly in the grooves.

When the primer has completely dried, give it a gentle scuff with some sandpaper and then wipe away any dust that has accumulated. Apply the first top coat in the same way that you applied the primer, then wait for it to dry before proceeding with the second application. If the primer thoroughly covers the treated grooves, you do not need to paint them before moving on to the next step. In the event that the finish is not uniform, you may need to apply a third coat. Take off the tape used by the painters before the paint has a chance to cure.