What kind of paint do I use to paint paneling?

Updated April 17, 2017

Is that tacky, outmoded fake-wood panelling making you stir-crazy? Relax. You can make that panelled room look less like a box and more like a living space with a simple coat of paint. Before you start, there are things you need to know. This fact sheet will help you select the right kind of primer and paint before you begin.

Surface Preparation

Clean and sand the panelling first.Then apply a latex-based primer that will cut the gloss of the panelling surface.


After the priming step, the sky's the limit. You can paint your panelling with any wall paint. Satin finishes go well on panelled walls. Latex paints work the best.


Don't take a shortcut by skipping the primer coat. It will cut the gloss on the panelled surface, make your chosen paint adhere better and prevent the wood grain from showing through your final coat of paint.


Applying drywall mud or another groove filler will make your final effect look more like a painted wall than a painted box. Follow the directions on the container, apply, sand smooth, and then apply your primer coat.

Special Areas

If you're painting panelling in an area that is subject to moisture, like in a kitchen or bathroom, use a paint that is formulated to resist moisture and the growth of mould. High-traffic areas will benefit from a paint that is washable to remove hand prints.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Susan Kerr began her writing career as a food columnist in 1987 before moving to business journalism as a reporter and managing editor in the Penn State area. Since then, Kerr has contributed content to military-related magazines, not-for-profit websites and other online media. In addition, she writes a weekly column for her hometown newspaper