How To Paint Paneling

A lot of people are considering painting the 1970s paneling in their own house. Here’s how to go about painting paneling:

  • Clean: Clean the paneling to remove any dirt or grease.
  • Patch: Putty any nail holes and caulk any cracks, then allow to dry.
  • Sand: Lightly sand the surface of the paneling with 100 grit sandpaper to allow the primer to adhere.
  • Prime: Paint the paneling using a stainblocking 100% latex primer tinted to match the wall color. Oil-based primer can also be used if desired.
  • Paint: Finally, roll the walls with two topcoats of latex wall paint.

When painting the trimwork around the paneling, such as baseboards and door facings, use a similar procedure but use oil-based paint and primer for a smoother, high gloss finish. Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information


  1. What can I do to get rid of the lines in the paneling. Because it looks just like painted paneling to me. thanks Norma

  2. About the only thing you can do other than replacing the paneling is to fill in the grooves with drywall joint compound using a 6in drywall knife. Then you will need to sand, prime and paint the walls.

  3. I have used textured paint with a degree of success however it depends on whether you want textured walls or not. 😉 Depending on how thick the paint texture is you will still see lines when the light hits just right if you aren’t very careful in painting. filling the grooves is the obvious answer..texture painting is the easy way out but not always the best solution.

  4. I covered the grooves in my paneling by covering it with a wallpaper product that I purchased at Lowes. It is basically a heavy white paper with no pattern that I put up like wallpaper and gently smoothed over the paneling. There were one or two places in the panelling that was irregular and that showed thru the paper, but otherwise I was well satisfied with the “sheetrock” look of the wall.

  5. Yes I have used that same paper on a home we lived in that was built in the 1800s and of course all the walls were in perfect condition..cough….

    It didnt work that well for me in that situation…I used textured paint there as well then decorative painting on top. It came out beautifully. Wish I had pics..unfortunately we rented the house and when we moved out a contractor bought it and put up an apartment complex..what a shame. Three fireplaces..etc. But the sills were bad and alot of work would have to had been done to restore the home which is why we moved and bought our house here on the lake which brings its own set of problems like flooding.. which I am dealing with now.

  6. After experimenting with many different paneling “groove fillers”, I found something that worked and seems like it will be durable. When I tried Joint Compound, spackling, caulk – paint just scratched off easily. It is Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Filler it is paintable and sandable, comes in a tube and only $2 at target. Be sure to sand excess using a drywall sanding block (it is soft) spray some water on the filled in areas and it is very clean to use. This stuff probably only works if you have paneling with shallow grooves. Use a sanding block to Sand in the grooves a bit before applying.

  7. I have just bought a mobile home and it has all the walls and cieling covered with wood paneling. I want to paint them but what type of paint should I buy???

  8. i would like to paint my paneling, but i am not sure of the color that i would like to paint, (furniture is victorian style) colors on the furniture is pink,mavue,blue,gold,teal,beige, my rug also has the same colors (the wood color is cherry) and my curtains are a mauve color, do you have any suggestions or tell me where i can look to see what color would go well???

  9. WE just bought a mobile home,even though it is nice every thing is late 70’s early 80’s paneling.I’d like to know the easiest way to paint it without any seams or shadows of them showing.It also has a huge sorta window sill behind the bed in the master bedroom,it looks like plywood,how could I make it look more like real wood.Al so some of the panels on the hall ceiling needs replaced.I’d rather just put in a plaster ceiling,how? And the bathroom had a look of puffy glow in dark stickers on the walls and ceiling.I took them off but they left a lot of residue,if I paint over it it will show terribly.How do I remove all the residue?
    Thank You.

  10. Sorry I am so late answering these questions but I have been ill and not paying alot of attention to the site. Martha m: I would use a latex eggshell or satin paint of good quality. I like the texture effect but if you are going for a “cottage feel” then perhaps whitewashing the paneling is the route to go. remember to sand the panelling a bit to give it “tooth” to let the paint adhere to.

    Milly: As far as your question goes, look at a color wheel. Find the predominate color of the your case it sounds like mauve. Then look across the wheel to find the complentary color.. you can also go monochromatic or autogolous, but for suggestions try going to or and they have actual rooms that you can try different colors on. If you subscribe to the behr site you can upload your own pics and actually see what the colors will look like on the walls. You have alot of colors going on there. I would tend to stay with a very neutral color such as ivory.. with a tint of green red or yellow in it depending on what colors you want to highlight. When you have so many colors going on, make sure you find a good focal point so the eye isnt going crazy when you walk into the room. make sure when you enter that it focuses on one thing then its more soothing to the eye.
    Denise.. you can faux finish anything to make it look like a wood finish.. gel stains are good for that. as far as the ceiling goes you dont want plaster you probably want sheetrock.. and the residue can be removed easily usually with a product called goof off or sometimes wd 40 will take it off. if that doesnt work there are stronger adhesive removeers on the market. just make sure that it doesnt damage the material underneath.

    I hope this helps.

  11. I am attempting to remove 2 layers of wallpaper over hardwood paneling in our bedroom. Our home was built in 1957-58,we live where my husband grew up.
    What is the best way to paint the paneling after paper removal. (my husband likes the paneling, he remembers it from a small child)uhgg . Is it okay to prime/paint only?
    Should I fill in the grooves first?

  12. I have a 1950’s beach cottage with knotty pine wals and want to paint them off white to give that beachy feel. I was told that there is a primer that adheres to polyurethane. That way I don’t have to sand the whole darn room. Is this true and do you know the name? Thanks

  13. I am trying to decide what color and how to paint over the notty pine walls and ceilings. I love it but the stain is too dark. I have a new white bedroom set, and I would like to make the room like a seaside cottage look, as I live on the water. If you have any suggestions, I would appreciate it. Sarah

  14. I have a mobile home that has panelling that looks like wallpaper and has a shiny texture. Can I paint over this and would I need to put Kilz or a type of primer first?

  15. I just purchased a manufactured home built in 2005, I love the home but I hate the walls, they are textured but I can’t make out if they are wallpapered or if its a panel every couple of feet there is a strip running vertically,that has the same print on it… can i remove that strip and paint the walls?

  16. i am having a problem with painting my paneling. I cleaned the paneling and primed to get it ready for painting but now i am painting it with white paint, i have had to apply 3 coats of white paint. The paint is holding to the walls but it seems no matter how many coats i put on it, it wont cover up the dark color of the paneling. What else should i do?

  17. I am trying to paint my mobil home I have used primer and it still peeling off the paint in some places.It also has paneling that looks like wallpapper.I am at a stand still.Please help!

  18. Hi. I want to start painting the walls in my manufactured home. They are paneling that have a thin layer of something that is like wallpaper and it is textured. I want to take out the strips that hold these up and fill them in and then paint the walls. My concern is that I won’t be able to make the spots where the strips are look the same as the textured panels. I am also concerned that these won’t hold paint well. Do you have any suggestions on how to do this? I have a 2005 manufactured home. Thanks.

  19. Our living room had dark wood paneling and trim. The ceilings are white and we have dark wood beams also. We just painted the paneling a tan color to try to lighten up the room. We are now faced with a dilema of the white ceiling, tan walls, and dark wood trim. What should we do? We have considered painting the wood trim white, or paint the ceiling a lighter tan color to get rid of the awkward white.

  20. I am geting ready to paint over the wood paneling in my house. I am not sure what brand in the best joint compound to fill in the grooves. Could anyone help please? I have read so many things and I want one that will not crack over time.

  21. hey,im trying to redo my living room we just bought this house and of course its paneling in the living and dining rooms,yuck….i want to buy a textured paint to cover it and use a textured roller??? my question is color i love warm colors id love to have like a beige light beige???but i have a pine trim that is varnished and im thinking it wont look right together any suggestions??? i love the trim…my living rm has forest green carpet and i have mauve n green furniture….PLEASE HELP…….

  22. I have dark paneling in the bathroom, bedroom and in the living room. Can I use the acrylic latex paint & primer for all the rooms? Or do I use something different for the bathroom?

  23. We just moved into a manufactured home for the first time, and it is beautiful but the walls need to be painted. I have paneling that is like wallpaper. I am guessing I will have to wash it down, then use a primer such as kilz for a few coats, and then finally paint. However, when I caulk them, should I squirt some sort of something between them with a caulking gun first, and then spread it and then sand it, and on and on? Or will that push the paneling apart when it expands and dries? Any particular caulking better for these seams? Thanks for your help!!! 🙂

    • Hi Kelly,
      Filling the grooves shouldn’t cause the paneling to pull apart, but the filler may crack or come loose over time. You basically have two choices for filling the grooves, spackling and drywall joint compound or caulking. Spackling and drywall joint compound are applied from the container with a putty knife. They dry hard and can be sanded when dry, resulting in a smooth surface. However, they are also hard and brittle when dry and may crack if the paneling is flexed by bumping it if it isn’t firmly supported behind it. Caulking is applied from a tube, then smoothed out with a putty knife or finger. It usually shrinks a bit on drying and remains flexible. On the down side, that means it can’t be sanded and the grooves will probably still be slightly visible after painting. On the plus side, caulking won’t crack or fall out when flexed like spackling or joint compound. One other very important thing to consider is that if your paneling has a vinyl wallpaper or other vinyl coating on it, paint won’t stick to it. Good luck with your project!

  24. Is it necceasary to fill the grooves with filler? Can’t I just prime the awful wpaneling, then paint it? The room is our basement, we had rain water come in last month so we decided to replace the florr. I’m having a hard time picking out a new floor due to the paneling, so why not paint the paneling?? any thoughts on the this?
    thanks so much!

  25. I used ready mixed plaster(joint compound)to apply a thick hand texture to my paneling. First, I covered the grooves in the paneling with a thin waffle joint tape. This was the only prep required. I made sure to fill grooves well with plaster as I was going, making sure tape wasn’t visible, & using a method similar to spreading icing on a cake. Was fun, but time consuming! Used almost 4 gal. for a 144 sf wall. Let plaster dry for 48 hours,then I painted and glazed. It’s beautiful! Warning: I did my bathroom before trying tape over grooves. I filled the grooves with plaster first & let dry, then plastered over that. Several grooves cracked! Don’t do it without taping the grooves!

  26. I have dealt with the vinyl paper glued to 4×8′ panels in a mobile home and regular wood grain look paneling in a 79′ m obile home. In the first, I tried to remove the vinyl paper and found it almost impossible. So I took my razor knife and scored it in a grid pattern to give it tooth. Then I applied lightweight joint compound, in a somewhat smooth design. After that dried, I applied another coat, then took sandpaper and sanded the rougher edges. After this I took old cut-up towels and rubbed the walls to smooth it a little more. Then I painted it with primer and a topcoat. It turned out beautifully.

    In the second instance, I sanded the paneling (it was a fairly light color), cleaned it with a spray cleaner, and filled in the grooves with lightweight joint compound. It took two coats of the compound, and in some places three, but it went fairly quickly. The results were good. The same as you would get with painted drywall.

  27. I was thinking of using a burnt orange on the bottom of my old messed up cherry colored paneling and a lighter color on top with a chair rail strip or some other moulding dividing the two. It looks good in simulation, but I’m not sure yet. Local home center told me I’d have to first sand and then use a stain killer (like Kilz) before I paint it. How does all this sound? Some of all you guys’ comments sound good as well, things I hadn’t thought of yet. The room is a rectangular living room on the north side of the house and is dark, gets very little sun. The dark cherry paneling maks it even worse, depressing to habitate.

  28. Hello,

    We have followed all of the directions…cleaned, filled with joint compound twice, cleaned, primed, and now our test patches (one with 2 coats of primer, one with 1 coat or primer and 2 coats of paint) still have visable lines from the paneling. We are at a total loss as far as what to do about this? We really do not want the lines to be seen…especially after so much work. Thanks.

  29. I used Glidden Gripper-2 coats followed by 2 coats of regular flat paint. It looked great, the lines in the paneling are not very visible and it looks like wainscoating. I had Home Depot tint Glidden Gripper to BM Ivory White and the small dark bedroom looked bright and airy

  30. We have wood paneling in our living room which makes the room very dark. I would like to paint it. The paneling doesn’t have the little lines in it but are panels that are joined together with a wood strip. The panels seem to be firmly attached to the wall. When I look closely though it appears as if the wood finish has a vinyl veneer. Can this be painted? Also I don’t like the strips of wood because it makes it hard to decorate. Is there anything that can be done to fill in the gaps and make a smooth wall?


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