The best way to paint pine, shiplap and wood paneling
Do you have dated wood paneling in your home? Here in Westchester County, we see it all the time – often in dens, family rooms or basements. And, they are a big turn-off, especially if you plan on selling your home. Paneled walls were popular in the 60’s and 70’s. But, now, 50 years later, they are very passe (along with popcorn ceilings and avocado appliances).
Why are wood paneled walls such a turn off?
New home buyers HATE wood paneling. Yes, I said it. They HATE it. Why? Because it’s dated and dark and just makes your space look smaller. If you’re a new home buyer or if you’re living in your home, the good news is that there’s a simple solve for these eye sores – PAINT THEM! And, it is unbelievable to see what a difference this will make in your room.
When you paint pine paneled walls, they will give your space a whole new look. Your room will instantly look lighter, brighter, more up to date and larger. It will also give you choices with your flooring choices, so you can choose hardwood flooring or even a new innovative waterproof product that looks like hardwood (Coretec Plus).
So, I’m going to show you how to paint wood paneled walls. You can either do this yourself or hire a professional painter to help you. If you live in Westchester County, NY, feel free to give us a shout.
Please note that this article may contain affiliate links. You can see my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.
How to paint wood paneled walls
I’m going to share the best method as well as the best products to use if you want to paint your paneled walls.
You MUST use a primer!
Primer is a must. Do not skip this step. In fact priming and the type of primer you use is the most important step. It’s even more important than the paint you use. Do not skip this step and do not use a paint/primer combo. You need a primer for proper adherence.
Before you apply the primer, you’ll want to clean the walls and remove any dirt and film (from cleaning products. We use Simple Green and it’s awesome. It cuts the waxes and it’s bio-degradeable and good for the environment.
Side note: Generally, you do not need to sand or buff the walls. The one exception would be if the paneling is super shiny with a thick and glossy polyurethane. If that’s the case, you would want to sand and scuff up the wood so the that primer will penetrate better and have stronger adherence.
For the primer, I’d recommend a new primer product from Stix. This is a great bonding primer and it doesn’t smell (like oil based primers do) and it dries faster. Note: I would avoid other latex primers as they don’t bond as well on wood, and if you can’t get this one, then use an oil based primer and wait 24 hrs before the next step. Or, if you use this one, you should be able to move on to the next step in 1 to 2 hours.
As I mentioned above, your primer is critical and it’s even more important than the brand and grade of paint. Don’t skimp here. If you don’t have the foundation right, the paint won’t adhere properly. In general, for most home improvement projects, it’s the prep and foundation steps that are often missed or people skimp on them. Don’t.
Are the knots in the paneling bleeding through? If so, you’ll need a second primer.
Usually, the 1st primer is sufficient to cover the knots in the wood. But sometimes (maybe 20-25% of the time), the pine knots will still show after you’ve applied the primer. This is due to the type of wood.
Don’t panic. STOP.. Do NOT add a 2nd coat of primer. And, DO NOT apply the paint yet. If you apply the paint, the knots will bleed through that as well, even if it’s a mid color. (I suppose if you are using dark black or something like that, it might cover it, but usually people are using a light color such as white or gray or a light blue or something.
But not to worry. I’ve got you covered here. If the pine knots show through the primer, you can use this lacquer based primer that comes in a spray can. You can just spray this on. It’s thin and usually 2 coats will do the trick. It’s alcohol based so it dries super quickly (i.e. in a few minutes). In some cases you may need a 3rd coat.
Now it’s time to paint
So now you just paint as you normally would. You want to do 2 coats of paint. I would recommend that you buy paint from Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore. Both offer quality paints that look great and have high durability. And, I would avoid Behr paints/paints from Home Depot. They are thinner (and you usually need an extra coat, despite their “claims” that it will save a coat) and they don’t last as long (they also look a bit cheaper on the wall).
So, if you are using Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams use 2 coats. If you use Behr (not recommended), use 3.
You can choose whatever shade you want, but generally lighter works better, especially if you have a room in the basement that doesn’t have as much light. For a finish, I’d recommend a flat finish as it’s most stylish and shows imperfections less.
For a paint brush, if you’re going to paint yourself, I’d recommend this brush.
What a difference painting your wood paneling can make.
Check out these before and after pictures. The painted paneling makes the room look up to date, clean and bright. And, as a bonus, the room looks larger.
The first 4 photos are from David Ames, a realtor in San Francisco and the bottom 2 are from Julia Mahar, a professional stager in Fairfield County CT.
Bonus: If you have paneling half way up the walls, you can do 2 different colors in the room. Most choose white for the bottom, so it’s brighter and looks like wainscoting for a richer look. We have a lot of customers who choose a light gray for the upper portion.
Removing pine paneled walls vs painting them
You can do either one, but obviously painting them is way less expensive than removing them and much less risky. If you remove the paneling, you’ll need to remove the paneling + repair/prep the walls before you paint. And, in many instances, you may need to replace the sheet rock as well. In addition, you need to replace the base molding as well. Most people opt to paint the paneling instead as it’s faster, easier and less expensive.
Are you ready to paint your home in Westchester County?
If you live in Westchester County NY, fill out the below painting request form. We look forward to meeting you. .
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How to paint wood paneled walls