How to Paint Over Stained and Varnished Wood Paneling

How to Paint Over Stained and Varnished Wood Paneling

Wish you could paint over your old wood paneling to brighten up your home? This article explains how in simple English for the do-it-yourself enthusiast.

Recently I published this article How to Bring Life to Old Wood Paneling Cheaply and Easily explaining how to restore a new shine to old paneling and woodwork easily.

After reading the article, a fellow writer dropped me a line wanting to know if she could just paint over old wood paneling, as she “has too much of it.” As someone who loves the look of finished wood, I didn’t know that such a thing was possible.


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Paint Over Finished Wood? I Wouldn’t Do it, But …

But, while I happen to love the look and longevity of stained and varnished wood, and would not usually recommend painting over it, I understand how some may not feel the same way. That being said, I decided to write this article detailing a couple of methods used to cover old varnished wood.

First of all, it depends on what the wood is on. For instance, if you’re looking to cover an old desk or coffee table, then you’re going to want to completely strip the old varnish and stain away before painting.

Any surface that would be considered “high traffic” would qualify to be stripped before painting. This is because these surfaces would be more prone to chipping and flaking because of repeated use.

When Completely Stripping Varnish From the Woodwork

Removing the old stain and varnish can be done with any of several brands of stripper on the market, such as Jasco Varnish and Stain Remover or PVR Paint and Varnish Remover. This is usually a labor-intensive task, requiring multiple applications and cleanup, as well as sometimes including the use of protective clothing or masks.

Different brands have different sets of instructions, and their formulas vary from highly toxic to environmentally friendly, and although the highly toxic ones tend to work a little better, the environmentally friendly ones are, well, environmentally friendly. The choice is of course yours.

  • A Typical Regular Varnish Remover (Jasco Varnish and Stain Remover)
  • A Typical Environmentally Friendly Varnish Remover (PVR Paint and Varnish Remover)

If You Want to Paint Without Stripping the Surfaces First

However, if the surface is not going to be handled or touched often, such as the surface of a paneled wall, then you can paint over them, with just a little preparation first.

Keep in mind that if your paneling has a “textured” surface such as in the image accompanying this article, the texture will most likely show through the final coat of paint.

The first thing you’re going to want to do is to thoroughly clean the surface with a degreasing agent and a scouring pad or steel wool. This will remove any wax or oils on the surface that could cause the new paint not to adhere well. Be sure to wipe down the surfaces well to remove any detergent residue.

Next, you’ll need to lightly sand the surface of the varnish with medium-grit sandpaper or a sanding sponge. Around 150 grit works well, and be sure to sand any grooves or scrollwork as well. For grooves, I usually fold a piece of sandpaper over the edge of a plastic squeegee or plastic putty knife.

Remember, you don’t need to sand away everything, you just want to take the shine off of the varnish. This will provide a coarse surface for the new primer to bond with.

After you’ve finished sanding, wipe down the surfaces with mineral spirits to remove any dust left behind, and allow to dry completely. Be sure to check any grooves or scrollwork before painting as the mineral spirits can collect in these and still be wet, which would cause the primer coat to not adhere.

Now you’re almost ready to begin painting. Tape off any edges with Blue Painter’s Tape, and apply a good oil-based primer to the surface. Be sure to use a high-quality roller or brush to prevent any “texturing” or “bristle marks” on the surfaces.

Allow the primer to dry completely, then check over the surfaces for any blemishes that the primer may have revealed. Any nail holes or dents can be repaired with Wood Filler Putty and sanded smooth. Be sure to re-prime these areas after repairing them.

Pay Attention to the Small Details, Like Grooves or Scrollwork

Once you have a smooth surface, you can apply your finish coats. Depending on what quality paint you choose, it may take as many as two to three coats for complete coverage. Watch any grooves or scrollwork carefully for buildup, and use a brush to pull the paint very thin on each coat in them.

Excessive buildup can cause a “blurring” effect on the sharp edges of the grooves, which will detract from your finished look.

If you’d like a very smooth finish, you can lightly sand before your final coat using a medium-fine grit, around 200 to 280, to knock down any drips or imperfections.

That’s all there is to it. It’s a little labor-intensive, but for those who think they have too much woodwork in their home and would like to brighten things up a bit, this fairly easy procedure will do it. Good luck!

How to Bring Life to Old Wood Paneling Cheaply & Easily

How to Bring Life to Old Wood Paneling Cheaply & Easily

A simple, inexpensive method to breathe new life into old interior woodwork, whether it’s the hardwood kind or simple sheet paneling.

Wood paneling, whether it be hardwood paneling in a high-end home or ¼ inch sheet paneling in a mobile home, was very popular not too long ago. Unfortunately, once it starts getting scuffed or begins to lose its glossy sheen, what was once attractive can now be a dull eyesore.

But, unless the walls are full of very large holes or are water damaged or rotten, by following these simple instructions, you can restore life to them, whether they’re in your own home or a rental property that you’re fixing up. And you can do it for very little cost compared to the alternative of replacement. All it takes is a little elbow grease.

image - How to Bring Life to Old Wood Paneling

How to Bring Life to Old Wood Paneling Cheaply & Easily


Read Also: How to Distress Furniture Easily


What You’ll Need to Repair Your Wood Paneling

Unless you have an extensive amount of paneling to repair, you should be able to buy everything on this list for under $150.

  • Stain marker pen in the shade of your paneling
  • Mineral Spirits (Low odor is recommended)
  • Cloth rags
  • High gloss polyurethane
  • Foam brushes of assorted sizes from 1″ to 4″
  • Drop cloths
  • Stainable wood filler
  • 400 grit sandpaper
  • Painter’s tape

How to Restore Wood Paneling

First, unless you’re planning on replacing the flooring, you should put down drop cloths wherever you’re going to be working.

Begin by removing any nail hangers or other items from the walls where you’re going to be working.

If the ceilings or crown/base molding are of different materials, you may want to use painter’s tape to protect them.

Once the walls are free of foreign objects, use the Cloth Rags to wipe down the surfaces with mineral spirits. This will remove most of the dust or polish that may be on the surface. Allow drying.

Caution: While using either the mineral spirits or the high gloss polyurethane, be sure to have adequate fresh air in the area. Respirators are recommended. Also, avoid any open flames in the area.

Once the mineral spirits have completely evaporated from the surfaces, use the stainable wood filler to fill in any nail holes or scratches that are visible. Both Minwax and DAP, among others, have all these products available. Be sure that the filler is Stainable.

Once the wood filler has completely dried, gently sand the repair smooth with the 400 grit sandpaper, and wipe away any excess dust.

Apply the stain marker pen to the stainable wood filler and allow time to dry.

Using the foam brushes, apply a thin, even coat of high gloss polyurethane to the entire surface of the paneling. Be sure to keep a wet lap to avoid build-up, and be careful with this step, as the polyurethane is very thin and hard to see, and can run easily.

If you find you must stop, try to do so at a joint or seam in the woodwork to avoid lapping. Again, make sure there is adequate ventilation when performing this step, and avoid any open flames in the area.

You’ll Take Years Off Your Walls With This Simple Procedure

That’s all there is to it. This relatively simple procedure can take years of wear and tear off your walls for a very small investment. Of course, every situation is different, and it’s up to you to decide if you think this procedure will benefit you.

As an example, the paneling in the photograph accompanying this article was restored using this method. This particular paneling is in a mobile home and is 39 years old as of publication of this article. Done properly, your old paneling will shine like new.

But, of course, some blemishes may still be visible, depending on how large they were, to begin with. If you think your walls are too badly damaged to restore, or would just like to paint over them to brighten up your home, the link below will take you to an article that will explain how to do so. Good luck!

How to Paint Over Stained and Varnished Wood Paneling

Decorating Styles: Discover Which Home Style is Right for You

Decorating Styles: Discover Which Home Style is Right for You

When decorating a home, choosing a cohesive style that reflects your values is worthwhile. Learn tips on different home styles and how to decorate a home.

Finding a decorating style for your home can be a challenging but rewarding process. With so many different styles and tastes available for a home, narrowing down your preferred decor might be a daunting task.

With a little research and awareness though, you will be able to zero in on exactly what you want your home to look like and the feel you want it to exude and it will be a very worthwhile endeavor.

What Kind of Decorating Style Do You Want?

Is it the clean lines and no-fuss design of contemporary furniture? If you have furniture with straight lines and sleek designs, and typically lots of black or white or bold solid colors, the modern design decorating style might appeal to you.

country home decor

Country Home Decor Style

Does country home decor style appeal to you? White furniture, rustic or homemade designs, and florals are all hallmarks of the country design style. It gives off a casual, homey feel.

The French decorating style entails rich fabrics, ornate furniture, and an antique feel; the mixing of rustic and ornate is a hallmark of French decor. Couches and pillows are fluffy and have a lot of curves, and the furniture has extravagant details. Many times a single color is layered and repeated throughout the home.

Traditional decorating styles involve classic styles and wood pieces or leather furniture to give structure to a room. Simplicity is important in traditional decorating, giving order to a home, using soft colors, designs, and fabrics.

The Southwestern style is characterized by an earth-toned color palate. Rough textures, open space, woven and rustic furniture, and craftsmen items such as pottery range throughout the home. Red, orange, turquoise, and browns create a southwestern feel in the house.

Shabby Chic is a popular home decorating design. Shabby chic involves vintage white pieces that bring a sense of calm to a room.

Varying pieces of furniture are placed in the home to give a look that has a sense of history to it, as opposed to purchasing an entire matching set bought on one occasion. This home design emphasizes antique pieces while achieving a welcoming and elegant result.

shabby chic home decor

Shabby Chic Home Decor

Home Should Be a Reflection of Values and Personality

Maybe a decorating style has stood out as being the way you wanted your home to be decorated but it is not that style yet.

Keep in mind that decorating your home in a way that speaks to you is a process that typically does not happen over one weekend. It is an ongoing endeavor that takes time. It brings with it an awareness of what you like and doesn’t like and shopping in a way that reflects that.

Walking into a home that does not reflect your personal decorating style can be disheartening and unwelcoming. But once you can decorate your home in a style that reflects your desires and taste, the home will be a place that you want to spend time and will be proud to show off.

There are many more styles than described in this article, so continue to research and be aware of styles that sound appealing. Achieving a home that is decorated according to your personality and taste is something to celebrate. It will fill your home with peace and bring comfort and relaxation to family and friends.

For ideas on how to decorate on a budget, see How to Decorate Your Home Interior on a Budget.

How to Distress Furniture Easily

How to Distress Furniture Easily

This tutorial will give you a fun and easy way to distress old or worn furniture into something hip and refreshing for any room in your house.

Many of us have that old table we’d like to refinish, or maybe we don’t want to spend a lot of money buying something new. This tutorial will walk you through step by step distressing furniture that you already have or a thrift store find.


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What to Look for in Furniture

Any furniture item that is real wood can be distressed. Make sure that the piece does not have a veneer on it or it is not made of any other material besides wood. Wood can be stripped and the new paint will adhere well to your finished project.

Distressed Old French Armoires

Distressed Old French Armoires

Preparing the Furniture

Make sure to clean the surface with a good cleaner. It can be regular liquid soap. The surface just needs to be clean of any dirt or debris. The next step is to prime the surface.

Many people will sand down the wood to get any finishing off of it so that the new paint adheres well. You can save a lot of time by buying a bottle of liquid deglosser available at most home improvement stores.

It is about $6.00 a bottle. In a well-ventilated area, work this into the surface with a rag. Allow this to dry. You must put your primer on about twenty minutes after so the surface is still sticky (created by the deglosser).

Prime the Surface

For the primer, KILZ has a nice general purpose latex primer, but any all-purpose latex primer will do. If there is hardware on the furniture, remove it.

For example, handles or knobs on a dresser. Paint one coat of primer and allow to dry. Usually, a couple of hours are needed to dry depending on the humidity.

Selecting Paint Colors

The next coat should be a light color and the top coat a dark color so that when the item is distressed, the bottom coat shows through. Select your color selections in a satin finish. For example, a white bottom coat and a brown topcoat.

For my project, I did a white bottom coat with a blue topcoat for a cottage themed dresser. Paint the bottom coat and allow it to dry. Then paint on the topcoat and allow it to dry.

Time to Distress Your Furniture

Take a piece of coarse sandpaper, and start to sand the areas that may have a lot of wear if this were an old piece of furniture. The corners, the bottoms, areas need any handles or sand around anywhere you would like.

For added effect, you can bang a chain or hammer to dent certain areas as well. Once you are satisfied, wipe the area clean with a damp cloth.

Finishing Your Piece

The final coat is a polyacrylic spray in a satin finish available at any home improvement store. Spray it once and allow it to dry. Spray it one more time for added protection.

This prevents further chipping, and if it is a table, makes it easy to clean. Attach any hardware taken off earlier. You’re done! You have saved yourself hundreds of dollars in buying new items or buying distressed furniture.

How to Decorate Home Interiors on a Budget

How to Decorate Home Interiors on a Budget

A beautifully decorated home interior doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Learn tips on how to decorate a charming home interior on a budget.

When decorating a home, it is easy to feel that the project requires saying goodbye to the next year’s worth of disposable income because decorating a home interior will wipe the bank account dry.

That doesn’t have to be the case. It is entirely possible to decorate a home on a budget, without it looking like the home was decorated on a budget.

Simplify Interior Decor

When decorating a home, keep in mind that sometimes the easiest makeovers of a room don’t involve spending money at all. Maybe the furniture has been in the same configuration for the last ten years; think out of the box and rearrange things a little. All it takes is moving the TV to another wall or separating the couches to breathe new life into a room.

Interior decorating does not have to mean a full and busy room; another easy task is to de-clutter. People will often stick items on shelves for sentimental reasons, or simply because they have nowhere else to put it. Too much ‘busyness‘ in a room makes it feel smaller, unorganized, and cheap.

Removing extras from the shelves and furniture pieces that don’t fit open up the room, make it feel more classy, and ultimately saves money. Designing a room sometimes mean removing items from a home interior rather than adding them.

Decorate Your Home Interior by Shopping Garage Sales

For bigger changes in a home, think garage sales. It is often easy to find like-new items, and this is the best place to shop when wanting to re-do a home because most times the sellers have the piece marked down to a steal of a price.

Some garage sales won’t have like-new conditions, but that is a part of the fun. There might be an antique dresser that has seen better days, but that becomes a Saturday morning project to repaint it.

Paint can give anything new life. Look beyond the chips and beyond the rundown paint job to the character that piece would bring into the home. Painting doesn’t even have to stay in the black or brown family; think of what something would look like blue, green, orange, or red.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! These pieces will add character and charm to any home interior.

Decorate Homes on a Budget by Shopping Thrift Stores

If your home decorating project doesn’t warrant a day of going to garage sales, try out thrift stores. Try to stay away from true antique stores because those have a tendency of ruining budgets; pieces are typically priced fairly high.

With a little hunting, thrift stores often have great finds that help in redecorating homes without ruining a budget.

Paint the Room to Help Decorate a Home

When re-doing a home interior, sometimes a quick fix in the home is desired, in which painting the room is a good remedy. Painting is one of the fastest, cheapest and budget-friendly ways to give new life to a room.

An entire gallon of paint typically runs around $30.00, and which covers a lot of wall space. Dedicate a Saturday or Sunday to a painting party, and instantaneously the room will look new and improved.

Decorating Home Interiors is a Worthwhile Project But Doesn’t Have to be Expensive

When decorating the interior of a home, don’t fret over how much money it will cost. All decorating takes is a little effort to discover treasures or paint a room, but the result is worth it. It is entirely possible to have a large bank account and a beautifully redecorated home at the same time.