Expert AdviceWalls & Ceilings

Paint Over Paneling

Q: We are buying a 32-year-old home. The family room has wood paneling in it, we hate it, and would like to remove it.

What type of paint do you recommend and is there any preparation we need to do before we paint. Can you suggest a good color?

A: We have purposely purchased cheap paneling with the intention of painting over it because we like the looks of it in the family room. And we have received many compliments from neighbors with the same basic house model who are surprised how much more interesting our walls look with the subtle pattern of the paneling. When my three boys were little, we installed it in the stairways and painted it with semi-gloss enamel, which made it very easy to clean. I think you’ll be surprised how nice your room will look when it is freshly painted with a light color you like as opposed to the dark, often cheap outdated look of old wood.

It should be a light color but adding a touch of pigment to get an off white, ivory, subtle cream or pale tan will be warmer and richer looking than stark white. Maybe you can pick up the lightest color in your upholstery or drapes, just take a cushion or fabric sample to the paint store. Whenever picking paint, it’s a good idea to tape some paint chips on the walls and live with them a few days before choosing a color.

I recommend you visit a painting specialty store like Kelly Moore, Sherwin Williams, etc. (as opposed to a hardware or home improvement store that sells paint along with everything else). Their knowledgeable staff will be in the best position to discuss your

project, advise you how to prep, prime and paint your paneling, and sell you all the materials you need.

Also, if they mix you a custom colored paint but you don’t like the way it looks on the wall (too dark, too light, wrong hue, or whatever…) you can take it back and have them adjust it.

Good luck!

Kathy Maynard

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