5 Mistakes to Avoid When Painting Wood Paneling

a variety of open paint cans with paint brushes on top

Painting wood paneling isn't as simple as painting a wall. It requires a few extra steps and some more time. There are a few common mistakes that many people make. These mistakes can make the paneling look bad. Here are five things you should avoid doing when painting paneling so you can achieve great-looking results.

Mistake 1 - Not Sanding

Not taking the time to sand the paneling before painting will create an unsightly mess. Paneling tends to be very smooth and is sealed better than other types of wood. Sanding the paneling before you start to paint will rough up the surface and allow the paint to adhere. Yes, it's time-consuming, but it will be more time-consuming trying to go back over and sand off the paint that didn't adhere correctly.

Mistake 2 - Not Priming

Wood paneling definitely needs to be primed before it can be painted. Priming both helps the paint cover more evenly and allows for less absorption of the paint. Wood is porous, and paneling is no exception. The paint can be absorbed into the wood, requiring more coats of paint to be applied into order to evenly cover the paneling.

Mistake 3 - Not Fixing Imperfections

Throwing paint over paneling that has holes or dings will do nothing but show those imperfections even more. Simple wood putty can be used to fill in any holes and even out any dents. Apply a small amount, even it with a straight edge, and allow it to dry. Once it is dry, sand it in order to make it even with the rest of the paneling. Once you apply the paint, it won't be noticeable and will give you an even paint job free of glaring imperfections.

Mistake 4 - Using Oil-based Paints

Oil-based paints are popular for home interiors. Unfortunately, they can't be used with every project. Wood paneling doesn't mix well with oil-based paints. Your best bet is to use an acrylic latex paint. Acrylic latex paint will adhere to the wood better. It is also flexible enough to not peel or crack as the wood contracts naturally. Oil-based paint won't give you this flexibility. While the paint may look great right after it is applied, it will fail after only a few months.

Mistake 5 - Not Allowing Enough Time

It may only take a few hours to paint a room. Wood paneling will require more time than that. Not only do you have to sand and prime the paneling, but you also need to allow more time for it to dry. If you try to rush through this process, you will be left with a sloppy paint job that no one will enjoy. Follow the directions provided by the manufacturer for drying, and then add a few hours. Don't apply a second coat until plenty of time has passed. In most cases, painting wood paneling is a weekend job, not something that can be done in just a few hours.