How to Paint Pine Paneling

Updated April 17, 2017

Pine panelling, or knotty pine, was once a popular choice for homes. It covered walls in living rooms, dens, family rooms and even kitchens, bathrooms and on ceilings. But times have changed and knotty pine has gone out of style as the wall covering of choice. One way to update a home with pine walls is to paint over the panels. While this isn't as straightforward as painting a wall finished with dry wall, it can be done with pleasing results.

Remove as much furniture from the room as possible and cover the rest with dust sheets or plastic sheets. Move it to the middle of the room. Take everything off the walls.

Cover the floor with a dust sheet.

Tape around the windows, doorways, ceiling and floor mouldings with painter's tape.

Wash the wall with trisodium phosphate (TSP), a degreaser and general cleaning solution. Put on rubber gloves and eye protection.

Mix 1/4 cup of TSP per 2 gallons water to remove accumulated dirt and grease and insure a clean surface for paint to adhere to.

Work in small areas, with a clean cloth, rinsing the cloth as it becomes soiled.

Use a sponge and clean water to rinse the wall and allow to dry.

Sand the wall with 100-grit sandpaper. Use a hand sander or sand by hand. Wipe the wall with a tack cloth to remove dust caused by sanding.

Prime the wood with a product, like B.I.N. that blocks stains caused by wood resins, sap and knots bleeding through the paint. You can find this at any hardware or home improvement store.

Fill deep knots with primer as you go to keep the surface smooth. Use a brush.

Allow the primer to dry according to the manufacturer's directions.

Apply the paint with a roller.

Allow the paint to dry thoroughly before applying a second coat.

Inspect the wall and add another coat if the paint hasn't covered the knotty pine panelling to your satisfaction.


Products like Zinnser Guard, available at hardware and home improvement stores, act as both a primer and a stain blocker. If you want your wall to be perfectly smooth, caulk or apply drywall compound between the boards and sand until the space where the boards join is even with the rest of the wall.

Things You'll Need

  • Dust sheets
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Painter's tape
  • Paint brush
  • Paint roller
  • Paint tray
  • TSP
  • Clean cloths
  • Ladder
  • Eye protection
  • Rubber gloves
  • Water
  • 100 grit sandpaper
  • Hand sander
  • Tack cloth
  • Stain blocker primer
  • Paint
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About the Author

Jan Czech has been writing professionally since 1993. Czech has published seven children's books, including “The Coffee Can Kid," which received a starred review from School Library Journal. She is a certified English/language arts teacher and holds a Bachelor of Arts in education from Niagara University.