ASK DANNY: How Should I Lighten My Wood Paneling?

Want to lighten your home’s wood paneling? Try a whitewash effect, Danny says.

Hi, Danny,

What’s the fastest and easiest way to lighten up tongue-and-groove wood paneling that’s been stained and [polyurethaned]?

I’d like more of a driftwood or whitewashed look to it without losing the integrity of the wood.


Hi, Karla,

One suggestion would be to use liquid sandpaper to eliminate any gloss and create a surface that paint or stain will adhere to.

Then, in an out-of-the-way place, such as a closet, try using a white stain to create a whitewash look. Test this in an inconspicuous area first, to ensure it matches the desired effect.

This should give you a much lighter, brighter appearance while still being able to enjoy the beauty of the wood.

After staining it, you’ll want to apply at least one coat of clear polyurethane.

Good luck!



  1. Hi there, I have real wood panelling in a home that I just bought. It is pristine and has no damage or marks whatsoever. However, it is dark and makes the house look dark. I don’t want to wreck it by painting over it. It is amazing and I want to keep it. Do you have an ideas of what I could do to bring it up today’s standards? Thank you

    • Hi, William! You need paint that is safe for exterior use and wood. Oil-based paint is pretty durable. Good luck!

    • Hi William! First, you’ll need to sand that wood, apply primer, and then you can stain or paint. And, yes, seal! Good luck.


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