Painting Paneling – An Easy Fix for Dated Walls


I am well aware there are many homeowners out there who are absolutely adamant that wood should never be painted over…no matter how dated, damaged, or just plain ugly. But the fact remains, if you are still sporting wood paneling in your house…unless it’s the real deal, like gorgeous stained mahogany or century-old oak…it’s making your space look at least 30-years older than its actual age and then some.

I’m not sure when that awful paneling from the 60’s and 70’s went out of style, but I for one am certainly glad it did. Like everything else, it had a time and a place, but that time and place is long gone. What remains now is a sordid past full of faux finishes, peeling varnish, and numerous nail holes.

While removing the stuff is certainly an option, you might want to consider why it was slapped up there to begin with. When it first came out, paneling was marketed not only as a hot new trend, but also a cure-all…a quick fix to cover up whatever might be ailing beneath including layers of wallpaper and damaged walls. And though I am a big fan of removing it altogether, it might end up being a much larger and more costly project than you originally intended. Instead, I am more inclined to paint.

Painting unattractive paneling is an easy way to make a room feel much more current, and it’s easy on the budget. There is no real trick to painting paneling, just make sure to thoroughly wash it down using water and a good…not soapy…cleaning solution, fill and sand the nail holes, then go for it!

Depending on the depth of the lines between the panels, you may need to go over each individually with a brush, but I have found that most paneling covers fairly easily if you just use a roller with a thick nap. Two coats is usually a must. Also, consider a satin finish rather than glossy to keep imperfections from standing out.

To appeal to the largest number of buyers and increase chances of an offer, anything you can do to bring the listing up-to-date is going to work in your favor. And painting over dreary and dated paneled walls is a major step in the right direction.

*Rooms shown staged by Lori Matzke – Photos are the property of Lori Matzke


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