Yes, Virginia, you can paint over paneling!

We have been hard at work at the new house, making changes so that the  house will work for us.

One of the things I wanted to do was turn the library into a playroom for Son.   This is what we started with:


The darkest room in the house.  Seventies dark wood paneling.  Dark wood shelving.  Did I mention that it was dark?  Still, I knew all those shelves would be terrific in a playroom,  and since it’s on one side of the family room and the kitchen is on the other, I knew it would be a great place for Dan to play uninhibitedly while I could still keep an eye on him.  And, I could close the door so I don’t have to see the clutter.  A win-win!

It wasn’t easy.  To save time and energy, Husband first caulked all of the paneling seams.  Then he began to primer.  It took  2 coats (3 gallons) of one of the best primers, and the oil from years of  polishing paneling was still seeping through in areas.

Big fans of Behr’s paint, we decided to try their new Premium Plus Ultra paint which is primer and paint in one.  It’s more expensive than the standard Behr’s, but it was so worth it for this project.   It only took one coat, and it dries really quickly.  I doubt we could have used just one coat if we hadn’t primered first, but I’m positive it saved us at least one coat of paint.  And it only took a half gallon to paint the entire room – the same room that sucked up a gallon and a half for each coat of primer!

Once the shelves were painted it was easy to see gaps between the shelving and the paneling – something you didn’t notice when they were dark brown.  Husband used L-brackets to lessen the large gaps, then took out his handy caulk gun and filled in all of the gaps.  What a difference!

Here is what we ended up with:



I am so very thrilled with the results!  It’s just as I pictured it!

And, um, perhaps Husband will get me a wide angle lens for Mother’s Day…


14 Responses to “Yes, Virginia, you can paint over paneling!”

  1. Emily Says:

    I absolutely love it! A little labor and love goes a long way for making a place home. Nicely done!

  2. goodfountain Says:

    What a difference! You did a fabulous job!

    Nice work!

  3. Lisa Says:


    We also painted over paneling in our family room in this house. It went from a medium gray cave-looking room to a light blue happy room. Replacing the brownish-gray carpeting with something beige, nearly ivory, helped immensely as well!

  4. Lisa Says:

    Oh — a couple other things!

    1) Did Pete lose a little weight? He looks svelter — or maybe I’ve just never seen him ‘going’ before. 🙂

    2) The $5 can of oops paint I scored is the Behr Premium Ultra stuff. I don’t necessarily need the primer end of things as I’m just painting a white hallway with it, but I was extra happy to get the high-end stuff for the same oops price. 🙂

    3) 🙂

  5. funnyaboutmoney1 Says:

    Wow, is THAT an improvement!

    I also once painted over paneling to reasonably good effect. But didn’t have to cope with the shelving.

    The floor looks nicer, too…did you refinish or wax it?

  6. BeThisWay Says:

    Funny –

    No, we didn’t do anything to the floor except sweep. And release it from it’s dark-walled prison. It IS amazing how different the floor looks!!

  7. Rachael Says:

    Love the transformation. My sister has paneling and she would really appreciate this alteration. Great job!

  8. Julie Lightbody Says:

    Hi, I love what you did with that room. My husband and I are moving into a house with the same horrible paneling you had. What is that color of yellow called? We would like to use the same color if we could. It is beautiful. Thanks.

    • BeThisWay Says:

      Julie, I don’t have the name of the color but I do have the Behr’s formula somewhere. I will look for it and email it to you when I do. Good luck with your paneling makeover!

  9. Bold Color Transforms Kitchen into Bright, Warm Space « Are You Going To Be This Way The Rest of The Time I Know You? Says:

    […] you're saying… BeThisWay on Yes, Virginia, you can paint o…Good Fountain on Bold ChoicesJulie Lightbody on Yes, Virginia, you can paint o…Richard […]

  10. In the Kitchen « Are You Going To Be This Way The Rest of The Time I Know You? Says:

    […] was painted the same yellow that most of the rest of that house, which is the same color we used to paint over the paneling in Son’s playroom.  It is one of my inspirations for the new kitchen, and this time I wanted […]

  11. Julie lightbody | Pixsimple Says:

    […] Yes, Virginia, you can paint over paneling! « Are You Going To Be …Apr 27, 2009 … Julie Lightbody Says: May 25, 2009 at 2:09 pm. Hi, I love what you did with that room. My husband and I are moving into a house with the same … […]

  12. Rachel Says:

    Did you sand and/or degloss your paneling before adding the primer? Also how is the paint holding up since its been a while? Did you try filling in any of the grooves with anything?

    • BeThisWay Says:

      I don’t think we sanded first, but we might have given it a light sanding. We used caulk in the grooves, but just to make them smoother. I like the grooves. It’s held up very well!

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