DIY Home Repair Hack: Easily Paint Over Wood Paneling

By Mark
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    I've lived in my house for five years now, and was always nervous to paint the paneling in my dining room.  After a lot of research I realized how to easily paint over wood paneling, and I want to share my tips with you!

    How to easily paint over wood paneling

    When we bought our house in 2010, there was A LOT of wood paneling… the foyer, the kitchen, the dining room and another room downstairs.  Needless to say, I've have to paint over wood paneling quite a bit in my house and have tried several methods.  The method that I've found works best is actually the easiest as well!

    And the picture above is the FINAL paneled wall in our house finally covered with paint!  This wall is part of a DIY series where Lauren and I are (slowly) redecorating our dining room.

    How to easily paint over wood paneling

    Here's how it looked before painting.  As far as wood paneling goes, it could be a lot worse, but it's definitely not our style.

    Contrary to many popular methods that you might have found on the internet, you do NOT need to sand or de-gloss the paneling (unless its like a super mirror finish – but most are not).  Also, this can be done in only 2 coats total, including the primer!

    The key to making this work is in the types of products that you use.  Here's what you will need:

    • High-quality OIL-BASED primer.  I use KILZ Interior Oil Primer and have had great results.  This barrier stops anything from bleeding through and also helps the paint go on evenly.  Tip – you can tint the primer to match the final color.
    • High-quality latex paint.  I used to buy bargain paint, and sometimes if I was in a really crazy mood, I bought the “middle-of-the-road” paint.  Then one day Lauren came home from Lowes with a gallon of the Valspar Signature Series paint, and I was not happy about it (it's not cheap).  But then I tried it.  Literally ONE nice & even coat is all it took.  That stuff is great.  I don't know about you, but I'd gladly pay an extra $10 or $15 to NOT have to paint a room twice!  (note that certain colors cover differently, so you might need more than one coat regardless of what paint you choose)

    I've painted 3 of my rooms using this method with fantastic results.  If you take a look at the walls in our back toy room, this is how I painted those as well.

    Here are the steps on how to easily paint wood paneling:

    1. Paint on two coats of a high-quality oil-based primer, letting each coat dry once applied.
    2. Once second coat of primer is dry. Coat walls with one coat of High-Quality Latex Paint and let dry. Apply another coat if needed.


    There have been a few more home improvements we've done since we moved into our house – here are some of my favorites:

    Milk Paint Furniture

    How to finish your furniture with milk paint

    Bed Canopy Tutorial

    My DIY Bed Canopy Tutorial

    Painting old house

    Not only did we discover how to save money by learning how to easily paint over wood pending but we also learned to save money by painting our old house.

    Renovated our attic

    We renovated our attic to turn into an office space, but we now have our own office out of the home. Our attic is now a playroom for the kids and a spare bedroom for guests.

    Home Repairs don't have to be costly, so do some research and find some great deals on how to upgrade your house without spending much out of your own pocket.


    After a lot of research and searching I realized how to easily paint over wood paneling, and I want to share my tips with you!


  • When you used the oil-based primer, did you notice any lingering noxious smells? We used a different brand of oil-based primer on some cabinets and in a bathroom before we painted and there is still a lingering smell. It’s awful, even after several months, and to the point that we are considering just replacing the cabinets. Did you experience this at all with the Kilz brand? How long did you wait in between painting the primer and paint? Your post offers hope for this dark wood-paneled dining room that we have, but I’m so scared to open another can of oil-based primer. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

  • Hello! I´m writting from Madrid, Spain. I got a very old fashion paneling but it`s not wood, I think is plastic.
    How can I paint it.

  • I was always told you cannot mix oil based paint with latex paint because the paint will adventually peel. Have you had any problems? Was I given incorrect information?

  • Does the paint come off if you scratch it. I have painted over paneling but did not use kills. If something bumps against it the paint scratches off back to the paneling

  • Hello! I can’t wait to try this!! Did you use a brush or a roller? I was going to role the paint on but then thought I might need to use a brush for the spaces between each board?

    • Hi Julie – I used a brush for the trim and edges, but a roller worked fine for most of it and filled in the gaps just fine 🙂 Just don’t get a roller designed for smooth walls.

  • I am very familiar with Valspar latex paint and I absolutely love it. What finish did you use for the latex paint?

  • I also have concerns about mixing oil and latex paints but we are going to follow your advice and give it a try. Did you clean paneling with anything special before painting

  • When did you paint your walls? Have you had any problems with the walls bleeding through? and how long do you expect the paint to last?

    • I painted these walls about 3 years ago – absolutely no bleeding through. I don’t see why it shouldn’t last many many more years. The oil-based primer is the key 🙂

    • Hi Claudia, I would not recommend that. Paint and primer in one products are all latex based. You really need the oil based primer as the base coat.

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