How to Paint Paneling (Without Priming and Sanding)
by Danielle Braun
This 1920’s cottage has all the charm you would expect from a New England Cape home: natural stone fireplace, oak ceilings, solid, wood, paneled walls. But because the walls were dark it made the home feel closed in, when what I wanted was a light and airy retreat. From the moment I walked into this property, I knew my first project would be to tackle those paneled walls. The question wasn’t if I would paint them, it was when – and how?
With the latest two-in-one paint/primer products on the market, painting walls and trim is easier than ever. But for raw wood you really need to do it right.
If you’ve done this before you know how tedious and time-consuming painting raw wood is: You scrub the walls, patch and sand, shellac each and every knot, apply two coats of high quality primer, then finish with two coats of interior paint…
By the time I’m getting ready to apply the second coat of primer I throw up the white flag and start calling around for a painter. I make empty promises to myself — “I’ll give up skinny vanilla lattes for the rest of the year. ” Whatever it takes, just please MAKE. THIS. END.
But then I got an idea! Why am I priming and painting wood when I can stain it? Wood drinks up stain. Stain lasts forever. Stain doesn’t chip. Stain comes in a variety of gorgeous colors. Stain DOESN’T REQUIRE PRIMER! Stain is MAGIC.
Let’s Get Started!
- Varathane fast-drying oil based stain 2-inch angled brush (made for oil) low nap 6″ or 8″ roller and tray rubber gloves (lots!)
- painter’s tape
- plastic-backed drop cloth
Prep your walls by filling in any holes with spackle. My fave is DryDex — it goes on pink and dries white, so it’s foolproof! Let dry and sand to smooth. Wipe down the wood with a dry cloth to remove the dust.
Step Two :
Apply your stain. I used two coats of Varathane fast-drying Wood Stain in “Sun Bleached.” Test the color over your wood to see if you like the result, since the look may vary, depending on the type of wood or current color.
(I confess, I am totally in LOVE with this product. Oil based stain is so silky smooth that it feels amazing when you brush it on.)
Using a 2-inch angled brush, edge your room and paint the vertical cracks. Keep an eye out for any drips (be sure to check back often, as they will sneak up on you).
Roll the flat surfaces. Go slow since stain is thin and watery. This will keep the splatter (and cleanup) to a minimum.
Sit back and enjoy your vanilla latte! You earned it, and you just saved over $800 in labor and materials
- Oil paint requires a brush specific to oils. Prepare to throw it away when done, and wrap it tightly in plastic when you take a break (or better yet, have a spare so you can throw the first one away).
- WEAR GLOVES. And have lots extras because they will get sticky!
- COVER YOUR FLOORS. Oil does not come off once it hardens and will penetrate a fabric drop cloth.
- Ventilate the area WELL!
I love the soft, silky look and feel and still run my hands over the walls every time I walk into the room. But you know what the best part was? It took four quarts of stain to finish the entire room with two coats.
Total Cost= $34!
I was so happy with the finish that I tried the product on some faux wood paneling just to see how it would hold up. It adhered really well and came out just as nice. There are still so many projects I’m dying to tackle here, but having this one out of the way is a huge step in the right direction.
Good luck and happy staining!