How To Paint Wood Paneling

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How To Paint Your Wood Paneling The Easy Way

I am in love with all of the pine wood paneling at the cabin, but there was a lot of it. Pine on the ceiling, pine paneling below the chair rail and an entire wall of pine paneling along staircase. We wanted to do something to highlight the beautiful ceiling and elongate the walls. By painting the wood wall the same bright color as the other walls, it really helped the ceiling to stand out and made the room appear that much bigger.  But, you need to be sure before you start a project like this. Once you prime the wood, there is no easy way to go back to a natural look. The primer does its job and does it well.  We will walk you through how we painted our wood paneling in just a weekend!



Start by taping off all of your edges.  For tape we like using the green FROGTAPE. I feel like our paint lines are always more crisp with this brand, but maybe that’s just me.

One reason I do these tutorials is to hopefully save you some steps and learn from my mistakes. One example of this is my error in sequencing. Unfortunately, I filled in all of the cracks and imperfections after the first coat of primer was on the wall. Whoops.  Don’t make the same mistake I did or you’ll be making more work for yourself. You’ll want to add wood filler to any cracks or nicks in the wood prior to priming. 

Let these spots of wood putty dry completely according to package directions, then sand with a fine grit sand paper.  Repeat these steps with any pesky cracks.  Clean off any dust left behind by the sanding with a dust rag or paper towel. Now you’re ready for priming.

What Primer Should I Use For Wood Panel Walls?

Well I’m so glad you asked! 😉 When painting a wood wall, especially something like pine that has exposed knots, you’ll need to use a mack-daddy primer. And yes that is a technical term. For projects like this we recommend using Zinsser B-I-N a shellac-based primer and sealer. It does a great job sealing the wood and keeping the tannins from sneaking out into your finished paint color.

how to paint pine

This primer has a very thin consistency and is difficult to clean up so make sure you do a good job taping off and have a decent drop cloth. We sacrificed a brush to the project rather than go through too many steps to clean it. I also recommend wearing disposable gloves while using this primer. It is not easy getting it off of your hands …. or hair … that was a fun day 😉  

how to paint wood panel wall

Carefully cut in with your brush to all of the corners and seams.  Next, use a paint roller to prime the main sections of the boards. This primer dries pretty quickly. We ended up doing one full coat and spot priming the pesky knots that needed it. 

Wrap your brush, paint roller and paint tray with plastic wrap or press and seal while you’re waiting for the coats to dry. 

how to paint wood panel walls

After the primer has dried, paint with your normal wall paint. We used Benjamin Moore in White Dove to match our other walls. We did two full coats and are beyond pleased with the results.

how to paint wood paneling

Remove your tape and marvel at your amazingness.  I need a good “after” photo when we head back up to the cabin again. Everyone who comes into this room comments on how much they love this white wall.  It’s amazing how big of a difference it has made in that room. 

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