How to paint a wood wall

Last Updated on May 17, 2022 by Joseph Tyler

Your wood walls may begin to look old and dating, and you may want to brighten the colors. Your instinct might want a fresh look that is tearing off the old wood panel, which can be very expensive to bear and will not be suitable if you are trying to be minimal about your costs.

If your wood wall is in good condition and the only issue here is brightening the colors, the least expensive way to achieve this is to leave the wood wall paneling and paint the wall. How to paint a wood wall?

Don’t rush to rip out the paneling; painting this feature is an easier and less expensive alternative you should consider for a complete renovation.
Wood paneling makes the home feel warm and comfortable, but an upgrade should be considered if your house is full of outdated, damaged, or inferior paneling.

In some instances, you may be able to remove the paneling and paint the wall directly, but paneling must have been installed with both nails and adhesive, so trying to remove it might damage the wall. It is pretty easy to paint wood paneling; if you have painted wood furniture before, you probably should be familiar with the basic steps to paint the wood wall.

The things you would need

  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Buckets
  • Sponge
  • Sandpapers
  • Primer
  • Paint brushes
  • Pollers
  • Gloves
  • Full sleeve clothing
  • Glasses
  • Respiratory device

How to paint a wood wall?

  • The first step is to clean the wall to get rid of dust or oily fingerprints that may prevent the paint from sticking well to the wood paneling. You need to thoroughly wash the wood wall with a solution of trisodium phosphate and water.
  • Dilute the solution in water and wipe down the hardwood with a sponge dampened in the solution. Before doing this, it is important to put on protective gear, including gloves, full sleeve clothing, glasses, respiratory device, and ensure to open the windows for adequate ventilation.
  • The next thing to do is to fill the grooves, it is optional, but you may want to minimize its appearance. To fill in the grooves, apply lightweight spackle with a putty knife.
  • Once the spackle is dry, smooth with a sanding block. It may take some time to get the grooves filled and perfectly smooth. Allow it dry for at least 24 hours before priming and painting.
  • Lightly sand the wood wall; the reason for this is to create a good mechanical bond between the wall and the coat of prima to be applied.
  • You need 220-grit sandpaper to do this scuffing, and it will be done in a circular motion.

Nowadays, prima are so good that you may not want to scuff the wood wall, but it is worth doing since it’s not something that will take time. Scuffing gives long-lasting insurance against paints that chip off, all you need do is ensure you are wearing a dust mask and for safety, wipe dust frequently as you work. You might want to vacuum the area to get rid of dust.

  • The third step is to save yourself from scrubbing the floors after painting because of paint splatters, place old newspapers on the floor, or clothes you don’t need anymore.
  • After that, apply the initial coat of prima to the wood surface to prevent any wood grain imperfections. You paint the grooves first; it is important to choose the suitable primer for solid wood, use a water-based product, and use a shellac-based primer for the veneer.
  • You must lookout for the words “stain-blocking” on the product, as this trait helps hide knots that may appear throughout the wood paneling.
  • Use a 2-inch high-quality angle sand brush to cut in at corners, but since you will be covering a large surface, you can switch to a roller for the rest painting.
  • Cover the flat surface with primer using the paint roller, if the paneling is still visible; apply a second coat of primer once the first coat is completely dried. Allow the second coat to dry also.
  • If there is trim around the paneling, it is a good idea to remove it from the wall; if you plan to keep trim’s color as it is or paint in a different shade from the wood paneling, remove it from the wall, not only will the trim be easier to paint off the wall, but also the finished outlook will appear smoother since we will have fewer imperfect areas.
  • If you plan to paint the trim the same color as the wall, lightly sand the adjacent wood trim on baseboards to allow the paint to adhere to it.
  • Using a caulk gun, apply caulk to any cracks and gaps where paneling meets the baseboard and ceilings or around the doors and windows; this will give the room a nice, polished look. Allow the caulking to dry thoroughly before painting the wood paneling.
  • The next thing to do is apply your chosen paint the same way you applied the primer by painting the grooves first and following up with a roller to smooth the surface.

What kinds of paint are suitable for wooden walls?

How to paint a wood wall
How to paint a wood wall?

1. A satin paint finish is the best paint finish to use for wall paneling, but you can choose any type of finish except high gloss, depending on the type of wall paneling.

Paints have different sheen levels; this means that they reflect light differently. Some are easier to clean and durable as well. When considering the kinds of paint to use, you need first to ascertain the outlook you want and the kind of protection it gives.
Let us quickly look into different paint finishes to aid you in effectively considering the appropriate one for your walls.

2. Matte finish is mainly called a flat finish because it has the least amount of shine and gives the appearance of a flat surface when used for painting.
The good thing about this paint is that it provides better coverage than other paint finishes; it requires fewer coats and hides any imperfections better than paints with sheen. The disadvantage of this paint is that it is the least durable and hard to clean.

3. Eggshell is another paint finish; it is one of the most popular paint finishes, also has a slight sheen to it but can still appear flat. It is more durable and easier to clean compared with matte paint. This paint finish is better used in a room without heavy use as it might not be as easy to clean as some other glossy finishes.

4. Satin is the most popular paint finish and is the best option for wall paneling; it gives a medium sheen that is easy to clean and more durable than the previously mentioned two.

The only disadvantage of this paint finish is that it shows brush strokes quickly, but if you have paneling in rooms with heavy use, you may need to consider using the satin paint finish as it works well with flat paneling that can be found in a lot of rooms. Satin paint finishing is easy to clean suitable for places or rooms with tongue and groove paneling since you may need to clean more often.

5. We also have semi-gloss; it is one of the most durable and shiniest finishes; it is also moisture and mildew resistant, so it is suitable for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc. The downside of this finish is that semi-gloss will show more imperfections on paneling, such as seams and filled holes.

6. The final paint finish is a high gloss; it is the most durable and easiest to clean; it also has the highest sheen level and is most likely to show the most imperfections. It reflects a lot of light and makes the walls very shiny, so it might not be the best choice for paneling itself.

7. A high gloss paint can be used to complement whatever paint finishes you have decided to use; it can be used on molding and trim around the windows and doors located in the room.

While rolling on the paint in thin layers, you must pay attention to the panel grooves, wipe out any excesses that might be too thick or tacky once dried, and do not allow the brush strokes in the grooves to dry before smoothing with the roller.

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Final thoughts

It is OK to paint wood paneling, especially if it makes the room dark and dated; painting paneling is a way to brighten the room, but you must ensure to use the correct type of paint and prepare the surface well.

The best kind of paint to use on paneling is interior latex paint; this paint type lasts longer and is more durable, so it ordinarily should not crack or chip over time. It is water-based, and you can clean the surface painted with it by using just water.

Further Readings

Easiest way to paint kitchen cabinets
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