How to Paint Wood Paneling With No Sanding

Homes that have wood paneling feel warm and comfortable. Wood paneling was popular in the 1970s and many older homes have it. However, if the wood paneling is dull, damaged, or has an inferior veneer, it needs to go. If you do not have enough money that would cover the costs of removing the wood paneling, or you prefer not to remove it, the best option is to paint it. Painting wood paneling is cost expensive, and it will give a fresh and bright look to the dull paneling.

You can paint over wood without worrying that it is going to peel. When painting wood paneling, sanding is not necessary. Just ensure the surface is clean. When you choose to paint wood paneling in the house, use high-quality products, and take the proper steps. Wood paneling requires extra attention so that the walls can look their best. Here are the steps to follow as you paint wood paneling to make your home have a fresh look. You can handle this project yourself and have some fun while at it as well as save money.

Prepare the surface

Remove wall hangings and all electrical gadgets from the wall or near it. Cover off everything with old bedsheets so that it does not get soiled up by paint. Move furniture to the center of the room to create space for working on the wall and to ensure no paint drops on it. Also, cover the floors with drop cloths. If the paneling is sealed with glossy material, you can use a liquid deglosser to wipe it.

Clean the surface area of the wood paneling

Before you start painting your wood paneling, ensure that you have cleaned it properly. Use a damp cloth dipped in soapy water to get rid of the dirt, cobwebs, and dust. If the wood paneling has layers of grime, a heavy-duty cleaner such as trisodium phosphate (TSP) can be used. Do not apply paint on a dirty surface because it will not adhere properly. Dirt can also make the surface look sloppy because the paint will pick up clumps of dirt, making it impossible to have a clean look.

Fill holes and cracks

Use wood putty to fill any cracks and holes on the wood paneling with a putty knife and let it dry. Put a small amount of wood putty on the putty knife and start filling the nail holes on the wood surface and on any cracks that the wood paneling may have. After the wood filler has dried up wipe with a damp cloth so that no particles are left on the surface. Nail holes need to be covered up properly because they show clearly on the surface when a paint job is done. A good primer sticks to the old finish and therefore you do not need to sand the wood.

Caulk the trimming

If there are any gaps between the wood paneling’s apply caulk and trim around the doors and windows using high-quality painters tape so that your doors and windows do not get the paint you are painting on your walls. Ensure that you have used caulk that is paintable. Leave the caulk to dry following the manufacturer’s directions.

Prime the wood paneling

You should start by applying a thin coat of primer using a brush or a sponge roller. Apply the primer on the wood surface using a sponge roller and use a brush for the hard-to-reach areas such as seams, corners, and cracks. Ensure that the entire surface has been covered, including the trimming. If your wood paneling has grooves, ensure that each groove has been primed properly to avoid leaving patches. Use an angle brush to get to all the grooves because a roller may not apply the primer coat well on the grooves. The best primer to use is a latex-based stain blocker primer or an oil-based primer. These prevent wood stains or grease to ruin your paint job. Apply a second coat of primer when the first coat dries. By using the right primer, you can achieve the desired results.

Paint the wood paneling

Apply the first coat of paint to all paneling surfaces beginning from the top working your way down. Work in sections ensuring that all cracks are painted. Smoothen the flat sections of wood paneling evenly to get a gloss finish. Ensure that all gaps between the panels are covered and remove the excess paint that has collected in the panel grooves with a brush, taking care of any drips occurring right away. Paint the grooves nicely with a brush. The first coat should be left to dry before applying a second coat.  When you have finished applying the primer and first coat, the walls can look like they are finished but you need to apply the second coat so that all the corners and surfaces are covered fully and to also ensure that the paint does not come off or chip off.

Paint the trim

The trim should be painted with a glossier finish. Paint it with a paint of your preferred choice of color so that it stands out from the wall and create a smooth surface that is easy to clean. When all the paint has dried on the walls, you can now move back your furniture and start enjoying your new room with the painted walls.


Applying paint on wood paneling is an easy task that is going to save you money if it is done in the right way. When you do it properly, you can improve the appearance of the paneling and enjoy your new space. To achieve that glossy look that you want, there are a number of things that need to be done right to get that bright and attractive look. These include preparing the paneling properly so that the problem of chipping or flaking does not occur, priming it with high-quality primer well so that there is no bleeding and getting enough paint on the cracks and gaps. Too little paint can cause an uneven finish, while too much paint will cause drips.

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