How to Paint Over Paneling

If you own an older home, the chances are that your den/playroom and basement have dark wood paneling on the walls, which by now has that drab, worn look. You don't want to remove the old paneling, just paint over it. If you have the time, painting over paneling is a very viable option, and is not too difficult. So, let's begin painting over those wood panels to give your room a new look.

Materials needed


  • Paint
  • Primer
  • Joint compound (powder or pre-mixed)
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint brush or roller
  • Putty knife
  • Plastic drop cloth
  • Soap and water
  • Sponge

Here's what to do:

  1. Remove all the furniture from the room. If that's problematic, move the furniture away from the walls and cover it with plastic drop-cloths.
  2. Remove all the plates on the switches and outlets. Check the walls for any protruding nails.
  3. Clean the walls thoroughly with a soapy solution to get rid of any dust and grease. Rinse with clean water.
  4. Mix the joint compound with water, as per packaging instructions. If you're using pre-mixed compound you can skip this step.
  5. Fill all the grooves in the paneling with a thick, uniform layer of compound. Let it dry for 24 hours.
  6. Scrape and sand down the excess compound after the compound is dry. Make the compound smooth and level with the panel.
  7. Sand down all the paneling lightly to remove any grease. This will help the primer adhere better.
  8. Apply a thin coat of primer. Let it dry for at least 12 hours. Since most paneling has a glossy finish, you will probably have to apply a second and thicker coat of primer to hold the paint. Let the second coat dry for 12 hours. Again, due to the glossy finish, a good quality primer is necessary.
  9. Paint over the paneling once the second coat of primer has dried. Usually three coats of paint are necessary to completely cover the paneling. You must let the paint dry between each application [sources: Lifestyle, DIY Network].