Is it good or bad to paint over wood paneling?

Written by henri bauholz
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Is it good or bad to paint over wood paneling?
Sometimes it is advantageous to paint over wood. (Chinese country inn image by Yali Shi from

Wood panelling can be painted over to create a light coloured room that better reflects natural and artificial light. The painting process is usually not reversible, so all details of the project should be carefully considered before the painting begins.

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What to Paint

You'll want to paint over wood panelling when the panelling is inexpensive, properly installed and in good repair. Painting over expensive walnut or oak panelling is an aesthetic decision that is seldom made.

Clean the Paneling

Wash the panelling thoroughly with a strong soap detergent that can be mixed in warm water. Make sure you rinse the panelling thoroughly with clear cold water after the panelling has been scrubbed.

Fill or Repair Any Holes

Small holes can be filled with spackling paste and then sanded after the paste has dried and hardened. Sometimes the surface of the panelling may need to be sanded also. Large areas of damaged panelling should be removed and either replaced or the space can be left void of any panelling.

Water Damage

Never paint over water-damaged panelling, for it will have to be removed and discarded. Furthermore, if the room has moisture problems, leaving the old panelling in place might not be a good idea, because the panelling might be covering up a problem area.

Use a Sealer

The first coat of paint must be a high-quality (stain-killer) primer-sealer and it is possible that you might need to apply two coats. The sealer can be put on the walls with a paint roller.

Several Coats

Choose a good quality interior grade latex or acrylic paint for the top coat. Again use the roller to apply the paint.

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