How To Paint Wood paneling Without Sanding In 2021

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How To Paint Wood paneling Without Sanding

If you have some of that 1970’s outdated wood panel in your home you’ve probably at some point asked yourself if you could paint wood paneling! You will find these laminate wood paneling in mobile homes a lot. Contrary to what some people might say, it is absolutely doable. You can paint over wood paneling without having to fear that it will peel off. the trick is using the right product and starting with the right primer.

If your paint foundation is solid (primed right) your top coat will be durable and long-lasting.

Materials used in the video:

Krudd Cutter Deglosser- https://amzn.to/31Dd0BV

Sanding Pad – https://amzn.to/2PpQtGg

150 Grit Sandpaper – https://amzn.to/3uhx3Sz

Vapor Mask – https://amzn.to/39yAU5P

9 inch Roller Sleeve: https://amzn.to/3ucq7pZ (regular size, not 18 inches like in the video)

Oil-based primer – https://amzn.to/31DCJKy

Fast-drying spackle – https://amzn.to/3wgEOdr

To Paint Wood paneling is relatively inexpensive 

First, you have to decide if you really want to paint over your wood paneling.

Once you Prime and paint there is no going back. 

The only other option after that would be replacing it, sheet-rocking over it and so on. 

Between prep, Prime and paint it, this is a project that can easily be done in a day for your average sized room (10’x20’)

Some of the cheaper wood paneling is not really the wood panel.

It is a wood grain print pattern that got glued on top of cardboard. 

But that is not a problem! 

You can still paint over this as well.

Before you start to do anything, even before you start prepping and priming, you need to make sure that there is no oil or grease on your wood paneling. 

Wash your walls with soap and water to de-grease the surface. 

You can use a citrus de-greaser such as Zapp,

Rust-Oleum Krudd Kutter

Or M1 deglosser which we use at 518 Painters in Albany NY because it cleans and de-glosses the fake wood paneling at once. No sanding needed!

It is very simple to use. You just pour about 32 oz in a 2 gallon bucket and wipe it on with a rag or a fine scotch brite pad.

Be sure to use rubber gloves and protective glasses as suggested by the label.

Wipe it off with a damp cloth and once it is dry you are ready to prime your fake wood paneling without sanding!

You can order this time saver online here

Best primer for wood paneling without sanding

painting wood panel

Once your surface is are prepped they are ready to be primed

Using the right primer will ensure that you achieve the results you’re looking for. Here is the step by step on how to paint wood paneling with grooves or without.

You have a few options when choosing the right primer for your wood paneling. 

Here is an example of 3 primers we like to use to get the job done right.

Watch this head to head comparison.

Priming Your Surface

I do not suggest just any regular water-based primer because water-based primers do not block stain. 

So if you Prime with a water-based primer you might end up with yellow stains in your topcoat. And dark spots between the wood panel grooves.

Especially if you’re doing a light color.

A better option is an oil-based primer such as Zinsser Coverstain.

oil based primer

This primer will guarantee stain blocking and that it will adhere to your wood paneling without peeling off later. 

The downside to oil primers or that they smell very bad and can cause dizziness and headaches if you do not use the right respirator

So, in my opinion, a better option would be Benjamin Moore’s Stix primer which is a Waterborne acrylic urethane that sticks to pretty much anything even tile. 

inslx stix bonding primer

And it does not have the smell of an oil-based or alcohol-based primer. 

Another benefit is that it dries really fast and is ready to be top-coated within one to two hours depending on room temperature. 

Check out this article about INSL-X Stix if you want a non-solvent (oil-based) option.

My personal favorite is called Seal Lock by INSL-X. 

insl-x seal lock plus synthetic shellac primer

It is an alcohol-based primer that is similar to a shellac primer. 

It has a bit of a smell to it similar to Hairspray. 

But with the right respirator, it is not that bad. 

Plus the smell doesn’t linger as much as an oil-based primer or Shellac-based primer. 

This stuff is foolproof. 

This is the exact same mask I like to use.

spray face mask fume respirator

What Paint Should I Use?

After you prime your wood paneling you have set the right foundation for your project to be a success.

Personally, I advocate Benjamin Moore products all day.

My second favorite would be Sherwin-Williams.

But it’s really just personal preference. .

So consult with your local paint retailer and pick what is right for you.

After you do so you can go ahead and apply your top coat.

I always suggest that you do two coats for various reasons.

Number one, is to achieve the right mil and consistency of paint.

Number 2, you will not achieve your desired color or Sheen by only applying one coat.

wood panel painted without sanding

Can I whitewash paneling?

You can absolutely whitewash wood paneling. 

You will still have to prime it as mentioned before. 

Then you will have to apply your base color. 

I would suggest a dark gray almost black. 

Then you would proceed as usual when whitewashing. 

Apply your topcoat and wipe it off with a rag exposing the base coat as little or as much as you wish. 

Repeat this as many times until you get your desired look.

How much does it cost to paint wood paneling?

All in all, it should not cost you more than $200-$300 in materials. Between your brush, your roller, the primer, masking tape, and paint for your average 10 ft by 12 ft room.

You will need


Two of  3/8 inch microfiber roller cover (Amazon Link)

a 2 inch angled nylon brush (Amazon Link)


Two 4-inch mini rollers with a 3/8 in microfiber nap (Amazon Link)

Your primer

And your paint

(Click on the link to shop them on Amazon)

If you have any questions or need help with anything please leave a comment below and I will get back to you ASAP!

Check out some of our other blogs for more tips, tricks, and information. 

You can search Us on YouTube at “518 Painters” where we have videos of some of our processes and procedures we use at 518 Painters.

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31 thoughts on “How To Paint Wood paneling Without Sanding In 2021”

  1. What specific TYPE of paint would you recommend? A latex paint? Or?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hey, thanks for your comment!
      We use Latex but it is really up to you. The prep and the primer are the most important. Any paint will work after that.
      Hope that helped

      Reply
  2. My tenant painted over the wood walls in our rental unit. The paint just peals off if I scratch it. How do I repaint this so it’s right?

    Reply
    • Unfortunately, you will have to scrape or sand everything. If you just paint over it it will still chip because your foundation (first coat) is already not adhering.

      Reply
  3. Can Sheetrock mud be used to fill in stripes on wood paneling

    Reply
  4. The wood paneling we have is real wood, not fake. Would you still recommend using the M-1 before priming?

    Reply
    • If the wood has a varnish then yes. Otherwise, just lightly scuff it with 220 grit before priming.

      Reply
  5. I have used Old English on my paneling and was told I may not be able to paint it any suggestions. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • Just sand it with 150-220 grit sandpaper until it’s dull and not shiny anymore. Then prime it with an oil-based primer and then you’ll be able to paint it.

      Reply
  6. So the M1 replaces the need to sand? Why is that? Does it strip the wood paneling?

    Reply
    • The M1 softens the finish and promotes a chemical bond between the finish and the primer. It works best with fine steel wool or a green brillo bad.

      Reply
  7. I am planning on painting my wood panelling. On top of the wood panelling was carpet glued to it. I am sanding the wall but it takes a lot of time. Is there anything that I can use instead of sanding all the glue off.

    Reply
    • We use a heat gun and a scraper. That usually helps.

      Reply
  8. Can I use a paint sprayer to paint the wood paneling or does a foam roller work better?

    Reply
    • You can absolutely use a sprayer if you’re comfortable using one👍🏼

      Reply
  9. Thoughts on using a PAINT + PRIMER product after the de-glossing?

    Reply
    • Paint and primer in one is really a diy gimmick. It works on previously painted surfaces but other than that it’s really not I would suggest.

      Reply
  10. Some of my paneling is fake some of it is real wood I think. What primer should I use?

    Reply
    • Zinsser coverstain Oil-based will work best. Another option is Insl-x stix which does not stink like oil based primer but might not block stains as well.

      Reply
  11. i am planning to paint my basement. The top half is wallpaper and bottom is wood paneling. It’s about 900 sqft. I’m trying not to use a primer that has many chemicals or odor and fumes. What is the best product.

    Reply
    • Zinsser Gardz for the wallpaper and you can try PPG breakthrough after sanding the wood panels but It might still bleed through. You really need to use a primer for wood paneling.

      Reply
  12. HI, I’m painting a small shower room with poor ventilation a coral color. The walls are paneling but with no sheen (1970’s trailer, so there you go)! I plan to clean the walls with Murphy’s oil soap, sand, then use a low odor primer because I have cats and for myself. Finally 2 coats of paint. Does this sound proficient enough? Will you tell me exactly what to use? I just bought a sample only of Valspar Brand. Should I go with Benjamin Moore or Sherwin-Williams? Will you please tell me exactly what to do? Thank You very much. I’m excited, but anxious!

    Reply
    • Clean the walls with dawn dish soap. Murrays will cause staining and adhesion problems. Use Benjamin Moore FreshStart waterbased primer after lightly sanding your surface with 220 grit sandpaper. Light sand is enough. Just to create some tooth. Do it the same way you would clean the windows. After the primer dries apply 2 topcoats and you should be all set.

      Reply
  13. What about old doors? Do you do the same steps? Or do you need to sand them or just clean, oil based primer and latex paint like the steps above?

    Reply
    • Same steps for best results. Clean, light sand, prime, and paint.

      Reply
  14. I have paneling with groves/rustic on it and it looks like real wood (1970) it has the sheen on. do you recommend Zinsser coverstain Oil-based or Insl-x stix. the room is about 600sq ft and I don’t want to sand.

    Reply
    • I would go with the oil-based. That’s your safest bet.

      Reply

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