How to Update and Paint Wood Paneling

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Painting together (Photo: @veronicoleman via Twenty20)
Painting the interior of your house is a surefire way to add new character to your home. It can instantly revitalize your house and leave you feeling happier and more at-home in your living space. But when it comes to painting and updating wood paneling, people tend to get nervous.
The good news is it’s not too much more work than painting drywall or plaster surfaces, as long as you follow the proper steps to do it right. Here’s what you should know before setting out to paint over the wood paneling in your home.
Step 1: Pick a color that works with the room. The most important part of painting any interior is picking a color that works well with the room. There’s a lot you need to consider when choosing a paint color: The lighting of the room, the size of the space, what you use the room for, and what the design choices are in the room should all play a very big role in determining the paint color that you opt for.
Be sure to not just pick a paint color that you like, but also a paint color that you want in your home 24 hours a day. These aren’t always the same thing. No matter how good of a job you do painting your wood paneling, it won’t look good without a good paint color. So start there.
Step 2: Clean the wood paneling. Before you apply any paint, you want to make sure that the wood paneling is clean. If the paneling appears clean, wipe it down with a dry microfiber towel to remove any dust. If it looks dirty or sticky, scrub it softly with a damp microfiber towel. If that doesn’t get the job done, try a damp sponge with a little bit of dish soap, then rinse with a damp microfiber towel. Wait until the wood paneling is fully dry before moving on.
Step 3: Fill any cracks or holes. Wood paneling is gorgeous, but it can occasionally get cracks. You can also leave holes in it from hanging pictures. If there are any irregularities with the wood, fill the cracks or holes with wood putty. Let the putty dry before moving to the next step.
Step 4: Sand the wood paneling and putty. Now it’s time to break out the sander. You can use an electric sander, or just put some elbow grease into it and sand with your hands. You want to sand away any textures in the wood, as well as any putty left from filling cracks and holes.
Step 5: Prime the wood paneling. It’s always a smart idea to apply primer when painting something, but that’s especially true when you’re painting wood paneling. You only need one thin coating of primer, but it will make all the difference in the world. Your paint won’t look the same without it.
Step 6: Paint the wood paneling. Now it’s time for the fun part: painting. When it comes to wood paneling, you really want to be sure that you do at least two coats of paint. One coat simply won’t look the same on wood paneling. Add two coats of paint, being careful to not let it streak or drip, and you’ll be all set.
Wood paneling can be gorgeous, but sometimes it needs to be updated. Thankfully, giving it a fresh coat of paint is no big deal at all.