How to Paint Plywood Paneling

Written by myra smith
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How to Paint Plywood Paneling
Paint plywood panelling to modernise a room. (panel image by Dave from

Plywood panelling was popular in the 1970s, especially in basements and family rooms. Today's homes are more colourful and brighter. There is no need to rip the panelling out and start over. With primer and paint, that dark-panelled room can become light and welcoming. Good preparation work will ensure a long-lasting paint job. Fill the grooves in the panelling for a smooth wall, or leave them to create a different look.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Grease-cutting cleaner
  • Rag
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Masking tape
  • Drywall compound
  • Drywall knives
  • Sandpaper
  • Sanding pole
  • Tack rag
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Paint rollers
  • Paintbrushes

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  1. 1

    Wash the panelling thoroughly with a grease-cutting cleaner, such as dish soap and water, and a rag. Rinse the walls with clear water and allow them to dry.

  2. 2

    Remove batten strips and pull any remaining nails, using pliers. Mask off the ceiling trim and baseboard, using masking tape. Fill the seams with drywall compound, using a drywall knife. Fill the grooves with drywall compound if desired.

  3. 3

    Sand glossy panelling with 220-grit sandpaper to remove gloss and roughen the surface for better paint adherence. Mount the sandpaper onto a sanding pole to make the sanding faster. Wipe the sanded surfaces with a tack rag to remove all dust.

  4. 4

    Prime the wall with a good acrylic primer-sealer to prevent dyes in the panelling bleeding through. Apply the primer with a paint roller and a brush. Check the panelling after the primer has dried and apply a second coat if required.

  5. 5

    Roll on two coats of acrylic latex paint in the colour you have chosen. Use a paintbrush to work the paint into the grooves if you did not fill them. Choose a satin or eggshell paint for easy washing.

Tips and warnings

  • Faux painting of plywood panelling will add a more decorative look to the room.

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