Dark wood paneling isn’t always the right look when a home is being remodeled or redesigned. However, it’s not always cost-effective, either, to pull it out and replace the entire wall with a new material. The halfway point, then, is to paint the dark wood a new color that matches the décor of the house’s new look. The wall can be a whole new color with the right preparation.
Paneling can sometimes be removed depending on how it was installed. However, if it was installed with nails and adhesive rather than just with adhesive, it’s going to be more cost-effective to paint the paneling than trying and remove the paneling to paint the foundation wall underneath. There are also cases where the only thing behind the paneling is wall studs.
Make sure the paneling is made of solid wood before you paint. Some dark wood paneling is actually just vinyl made to look like wood. If it’s not real wood, you’ll have to be careful when painting as the veneer on the vinyl can affect the paint job. The texture is also important to consider before painting because grooves in between the panels can be a problem if you want a uniform look of the wall. If so, you will want to add fill in the grooves between the panels to make that uniform appearance, which could take more time.
If the paneling is smooth and shiny, lightly sand it first, then wash it with TSP, which is a strong degreaser. When the wood is dry, paint it with a flat white alkyd primer first. Apply a second coat of latex in the color of your choice. If the paneling is rough, frost it with cream or rose latex stain for an elegant and soft look.
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