Ways to Cover Wood Paneling

Written by casandra maier
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Ways to Cover Wood Paneling
You can brighten up a room by covering over wood panelling with paint, wallpaper, drywall mud or a faux paper finish. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Dark wood panelling was a popular wall covering trend during the 1970s. Still present in older homes today, wood panelling can make rooms feel small, dark and gloomy. Many homeowners look for ways to eliminate wood panelling; however, removing this eyesore can be tricky and costly, as you can never predict the condition of the walls underneath. Choosing to cover wood panelling is easier and cheaper, and can provide many more aesthetically pleasing options.

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When painting over wood panelling, you must first prepare the surface. Because wood panelling is an old, outdated trend, it is likely that the walls are dirty from years of grease and grime build-up. Clean the walls with a degreasing cleanser before applying primer or paint. If the panelling has an extra-glossy finish, you may have to apply a gloss remover. There is also the issue of the grooves and spaces between each panel. While some people like the effect achieved when painting over the grooves, you may want a smooth finish, which requires sanding and spackling to fill in the spaces. To prevent the paint from running and absorbing into the panelling, you must apply primer before painting.


Wallpaper can change the look of your room by completely covering ugly wood panelling. The walls need to be cleaned and sanded to ensure that the wallpaper glue sticks properly. Once the sanding is complete, the wall will need to be cleaned with a sponge to remove any leftover dust. Next, apply a heavy wallpaper lining. Wallpaper liners have the stiffness required to cover and eliminate the lines and grooves between the panels. Without the wallpaper lining, the wallpaper will look uneven and unprofessional. Once the liner is applied, you can apply the wallpaper. Make sure you measure and match the patterns before you cut the wallpaper so it installs correctly.

Drywall Mud

While drywall may exist beneath your wood panelling, it may be damaged, creating a costly replacement project. However, you can roll drywall mud on top of the panelling to cover it. This method is cheaper and requires less skill than removing the panelling and replacing the drywall. First, you will need to clean the wood panelling and apply primer. Once the primer is dry, you can cover the grooves in the panelling with drywall tape. The mud itself will not fill in the grooves. The drywall mud will create a textured finish that you can choose to leave as-is or paint over.

Faux Paper Finish

A faux paper finish is one of the easiest and least messy ways to cover wood panelling. "Unlike regular wallpaper, you tear this paper into pieces, dip it in water and apply it randomly to the surface," according to WallpaperTrends.com. A faux paper finish will cover the panelling grooves, and will also create an appealing texture. Faux paper finishes are applied to wood panelling after the walls have been washed and primed. Wall glue is not required, as the paper is treated with a special formula that allows it to stick to itself when it gets wet. You do not have to measure, cut or match a faux paper finish, making it very easy to work with.

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