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

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.

DIY Repair for Window and Door Wood Rot

DIY Repair for Window and Door Wood Rot

DIY repair for wood rot is not difficult. It will save you money.

If you are seeing wood rot around your wooden window ledge or the brick mould on your outside door frames you really should repair that wood rot now rather than later.

Don’t have a panic attack or nightmare but wood rot around windows and doors is more serious than some homeowners realize.

Why Wood Rot is Serious

  1. It means that water is getting to the wood in some way that it should not be.
  2. Your windows or doors may not be sealed properly. This could be a caulk, primer or flashing deficiency. It could be that water is getting behind your gutter into the soffit and down the inside of your walls. This is a more serious situation because it will surely cause structural damage if not repaired.
  3. Another consideration is cost. If caught in time an inexpensive DIY repair is possible. Believe me, the problem will only get worse. If you have to call in a contractor it just gets expensive. Small places wood rot that is evident can be pieced in. Do it now and save the cost of a window or door frame and install.
  4. In almost all cases wood rot in your home is worse than what you see. If you let your DIY wood rot repair turn into a structural damage repair it can cost you thousands.

Finding the Water Source of Wood Rot

Wood rot is a matter of cause and effect. First, fix the cause then fix the effect it has created. Look for water stains on your house and follow the stain back to its source. Go out when it rains and see where the water is coming from. Clean out your gutters.

Make sure roof flashing is not allowing water behind your gutters. Go into your attic with a flashlight and look for water stains on the rafter tails or anywhere for that matter.

Your DIY inspection is just as good as a professional inspection if you find the problem and fix it. It could be as simple as caulking your door or window. You will save the cost of an inspection and service call.

The DIY Wood Rot Repair for Windows and Doors

We will use an example of an outside door brick moulding that has sustained water damage and rotted. This example will give the DIY repair homeowner a good understanding of the process. Apply the same techniques to repair window mouldings.

For minor repair of softwood or very small wood rot repairs simply use an epoxy or wood putty. You can fill in or strengthen the wood. Sand, seal and paint to complete the job.

If you have brick moulding on an outside door frame that has wood rot of several inches it is a somewhat bigger job. Here is a material list for your trip to the building supply store.

  • Brick moulding that matches the moulding on your door.
  • A tube of good outside caulk.
  • Wood screws 1 inch longer than the thickness of the brickmould.

Using a small square draw a straight line across the brick moulding a couple of inches above the wood rot. Cut the caulking next to the house along the side of the affected brick mould with a utility knife. Using a dove saw or cut off wheel cut along the line that you marked on the brickmould. Remove the bad wood.

Mark and cut a piece of the new brickmould the same size as the piece you removed. Drill a hole at the top and bottom of the wood repair piece that is a little smaller than the diameter of the wood screws. Using a drill bit a little larger than the head of the wood screws drill into the same holes about 1/4 of an inch.

Use two wood screws to fasten the new wood repair piece in place. Sink the head of the wood screw below the surface of the wood. Caulk the side of the new brickmould next to the house. Caulk the crack across the brick mould where the new piece has been placed.

Caulk over the holes where the wood screws were sunk. Let the caulking dry and then sand it to a smooth surface. Seal and paint your wood repair.

To replace the entire piece of brick mould, follow the same procedure. It’s just a larger scale. You will have to miter the top of it to fit the crosspiece at the top.

You’ve done a great job and saved yourself some money both by doing it yourself and doing it before it becomes a bigger expense.