Natural Wood Refining: How to Paint Solid Wood Wall Paneling

Natural Wood Refining: How to Paint Solid Wood Wall Paneling?

Solid wall wood paneling has its advantages and issues. One of the more obvious problems is what to do when the paneling starts to dull. The obvious answer is to paint it, but you need to know how to do it. Understanding how to paint solid wood wall paneling correctly will allow you to enjoy it on your walls for many years to come.

Getting the Right Tools & Supplies

It takes more than slapping on a new coat of paint or stain to renew the appearance of your solid wood paneling. You will need the following:

  • Orbital Sander, Fine Grit Sandpaper, and Wood Putty
  • Goggles, Dust Mask, Shop Vacuum, and Drop Cloths
  • Stain or Paint and Brushes


Start by removing all the rugs and furnishings from the room. Sanding will fill the room with dust, so removing what you can and placing drop cloths on the rest will help with cleaning afterwards.


The next step is cleaning the solid wood paneling. It starts by wiping down the paneling with a damp cloth to remove any dust or light dirt. Next, use a mild cleaning solution for any grease or stains on the paneling. Let the panels dry before taking the next step.

Fill Holes & Cracks

Any holes created by nails or small cracks in the panels can be addressed with a spackling compound. If you are painting the panels, then the color of the compound will not matter. But if you are staining the panels, then you might want to use wood putty that matches the natural coloring.

A putty knife will smooth out the compound. Allow it to dry and then sand it flat against the panels.


Use the orbital sander to take the sheen or finish off the panels before you paint. This will allow the paint to stick better to the panels. Just sand enough to take away the surface sheen. Fine sandpaper can be used on tougher areas, but keep in mind that you only want to rough up the surface.

Remove or Cover the Trim

Pull loose the trim if you want it to keep its natural color or you will paint it a color different than the paneling. If you are painting the trim the same color, then remove it anyway and sand the areas where the trim attaches. Remove any dust, dirt, or sand, then reattach the trim.

Caulk & Protect

Use caulk to fill any cracks in the panels that attach to the ceiling. Then use painter’s tape to cover any areas that you do not want painted, but cannot be removed.

Prime & Paint

Now you are ready to paint the panels. Start with a good latex primer that blocks stains and is a similar color to the paint you will use. Use a roller to apply the primer with a medium nap. A large roller with an adjustable handle works best.

Once the primer is dry, apply two coats of latex paint and let it dry. Now you are done.

Knowing how to paint solid wood wall paneling or applying a new coat of stain will refresh the appearance of the room.

Email or call Tilo Martin Painting for more information 310-230-0202.

Tilo Martin Painting is the top choice for interior and exterior painting in the Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Brentwood, Santa Monica, Bel Air, and the West Side. Call us today at 310-230-0202 to get a free estimate for your project.