9 Ways to Change the Look of Old Wood Panel Walls

Here’s how:

1. Paint the wood paneling

The most obvious…and most popular…way to update your walls is by painting over the wood paneling that’s in place.

However, if you decide to paint your wood paneling you’ll have to do some preparation work beforehand if you want beautiful, long-lasting results.

  • ⬥ Rough up the wood with 100 to 120 grit sandpaper, using a pole sander.
  • ⬥ Paint the walls with at least two coats of a bonding type primer. Although more expensive than regular primer – it’s around $50 bucks or so per gallon) the bonding primer is a better choice; it “bites” into the paneling.
  • ⬥ Then apply two coats of paint on top of the primer, letting the walls dry well between each coat.

2. Use wall liner then wallpaper…or not

Wall liner is one of the best-kept secrets of designers.

Thicker than wallpaper, wall liner is inexpensive and easy to install.

Not only does it hide wall blemishes it creates a smooth, even surface for painting or hanging fresh wallpaper.

(Note: Unlike regular wallpaper, wall liner is glued to the wall horizontally, making installation fast and easy)

3. Whitewash your walls

If you like the wood grain texture and don’t want to completely cover it up, you can change the look subtly by whitewashing your walls.

This is a good choice if you like the “distressed wood” look in your home.

Water the paint down, brush it onto the wall, wipe it immediately and then repeat until you’ve got the color you want.

4. “Erase” the grooves

Use drywall compound to fill the cracks and lines in the wood paneling.

Then sand, prime and paint the walls to create a seamless finish on your walls.

Note: For a dramatic look, you can fill in every other line with the drywall compound, creating larger gaps between each groove.

5. Add stripes

If you like the look of the grooves you can paint them either a separate color or a different hue of the same color to create a distinctive look.

6. Use art to disguise the wood paneling

One of the fastest and easiest ways to create a new look in a room with wood paneling is to disguise them.

You can:

  • ⬥ create a gallery wall or
  • ⬥ position large pieces of art, mirrors or sculptures

on or in front of the walls to draw the eye away from the wood paneling.

7. Use shelves or curtains to hide the wood sheet paneling

For a touch of elegance hang curtains from the ceiling to the floor.

Strategically place bookshelves, floating shelves and/or wall hangings to help hide the paneling.

8. Disguise the wood, not the paneling

Use bold, non-wood colors such as solid black or white or alternating colors such as tan and black or white and tan to highlight the texture of the walls while hiding their wood color.

9. Add “wainscoting”

Using one of the methods referenced above, create a smooth surface for your paint on the upper two-thirds (⅔) of your wall, using either wall liner or drywall compound.

Then, paint the lower one-third (⅓), leaving the grooves to create a wainscot wall look, without the expense.

Finally, separate the upper and lower parts with a chair rail to give the room a classy look without breaking the budget.