Paint library paneling?

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It is very nice quality wood paneling. South exposure so lots of light. Putting dark hard wood floors in. Shelves are packed right now because I have to put up EVERYTHING prior to the floor people working. Normally the shelves are not this filled! Adding can lights and getting rid of popcorn ceiling.

q paint library paneling
q paint library paneling
q paint library paneling
  20 answers
  • Flipturn Flipturn on Jun 06, 2021

    IMO, this is beautiful wood paneling that is classically timeless. Especially considering how much the cost of lumber has increased lately, I would dissuade you from jumping in and painting it right away before you have re-asked yourself the question what is the goal in doing so?


    Are you intending to keep the same furniture? The pieces look a little tired, and do not appear to compliment the rich colors in the paneling.

    • Flipturn Flipturn on Jun 09, 2021

      If the foundation of the furniture is still solid and the inside filling is still supportive, then it may be worth having the outside recovered by an upholstery shop. However, this will not be inexpensive.


      If the furniture was not a high-end brand when originally purchased, and it has served you well over the years, it will most likely be less expensive to purchase new pieces, instead of having the old pieces re-covered. If you are seeking a new look for the room, then it will be best to pass the old furniture on to a better home, and start fresh.


      A quick way to inject energy to tired looking furniture is to add bright coloured cushions, bright table-top runners, and to drape throws over the couch arms. Some folks do not like the look of throws, but it might be a temporary option.


      As far as new furniture, I would recommend to purchase smaller pieces, such as smaller love seats, and individual chairs, rather than larger pieces or sectionals. They offer more versatility in furniture arrangement patterns, and provide more opportunity for individuals to engage in different activities, (for example reading, napping, knitting, etc.) as opposed to having only larger pieces to sit on.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Jun 06, 2021

    Many people jump to painting when they have a beautiful wood piece of furniture or paneling. You have a quality product with the paneling.

    It really is hard to understand why people want to paint over it and loose something so beautiful. The natural beauty you have here is awesome.

    I would suggest changing your decor items before painting the walls.

  • Barb Barb on Jun 06, 2021

    will Definitely declutter and minimize items on bookcases. Want to keep purple couch. Maybe sheers to keep it lighter around the windows. Can get rid of big side chair even though it is super comfortable. I have some orange and purple pillows that I love too.

    what about painting the inside of the cabinets?

  • Robyn Garner Robyn Garner on Jun 06, 2021

    I agree that you've got high-quality classic "library walls". However, with dark floors going in that room will really suck up the light. I would actually start by painting the built-in bookshelves. Yes, they are nice quality but nothing special other than they are built-in. You needn't necessarily even paint them a light color - think black matte or navy. A "manly" color. I think you'll have a better idea of what to paint - if anything more - after the bookshelves and floor.

  • Linda Vee Linda Vee on Jun 06, 2021

    Have you considered giving the piece a super cleaning, and then using white contact paper (the kind that is easily peeled off) on the back board of the unit? Sometimes even a change of hardware can make a big difference. I would hesitate to paint it because if you changed your mind in a few years it would be a horrific job to remove the paint. Good luck with your re-room.

    • Barb Barb on Jun 06, 2021

      I just replaced the hardware on my 1980’s dining room cabinet snd buffet. Gold! So I will probably do the same in the library. These two rooms are opposite each other in the entry hall. Thanks!

  • Grace Gleason Grace Gleason on Jun 06, 2021

    Once it's painted, you are stuck with it. Getting paint off is a lot harder than putting it on. That is some beautiful wood. Paint is not the answer.

  • Linda Vee Linda Vee on Jun 06, 2021

    Oh, and the walls, I think I'd leave them as they are too and use drapery, etc to brighten things up. All this if you are going to continue to use this room as and office. If you ever consider changing the use of the room a coat of white paint might be in order.

  • Michelle Michelle on Jun 06, 2021

    The popcorn ceiling dates your room. I would agree, try a temporary fix on the inside of the bookcases using stick up wallpaper. Rearrange/declutter. It is a beautiful wood- don't paint accessorize

  • Barb Barb on Jun 06, 2021

    Popcorn is coming down very soon! Love the idea of lighter wallpaper on back of shelves. Lights in the ceiling will help also! Thanks!

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Jun 06, 2021

    Hello. We had our 1970s water damaged stained faded cedar walls refinished—- sanded and sealed and we were very pleased with the results. It depends if you prefer paint or the wood tone.

  • Dee Dee on Jun 06, 2021

    Hi Barb: IMHO I would not paint that beautiful paneling. What your room needs it to brighten it up. Nice white drapes/curtains hung from right under the ceiling to bring height. I would put wallpaper on the backs of the bookcases in a white background with maybe a small leaf pattern. Add lights to the bookcases for more light. The dark hardwoods are going to make the room darker. If you have pets or children, you are going to hate them because they show every little bit of dust. Think about getting a lighter color for the floor. Put some pops of color in with pillows and nick nacks on the book cases.

  • I personally would do anything else first before painting the wood, meaning changing out or around furniture, accessories, lamps and lighting, textiles, etc. and if you still find the walls aren’t working for you, you can paint but be advised, this could decrease the value of your home.

  • Barb Barb on Jun 07, 2021

    I could just carpet the room??? In a light carpet and do a colorful rug. I don't have little ones anymore (just 6 grandkids who throw dance parties in here) or dogs. Definitely will use wallpaper on the shelving and get some lights in there. Thanks for all the suggestions!

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Jun 07, 2021

    I painted some paneling about 25 years ago. My process was clean with TSP, prime with Kilz Original, 2 coats of paint & primer in one. I have been very pleased with it and do not regret it.

    However, this is so beautiful I would be hesitant to paint them. Try doing everything else first and see how you like it. You can always go back and paint later.

  • Betsy Betsy on Jun 07, 2021

    Hi Barb: I'm one of those who abhors painting wood :) This wood is beautiful and, it's a lot easier to clean than paint! I'd leave it as is. If you want to bring some brightness to your dark floors, maybe an area rug would be nice. But, I most definitely wouldn't paint that beautiful wood :)

  • Annie Annie on Jun 08, 2021

    Use a primer/sealer prior to painting. That old wood will soak up the paint, may require several coats.

  • Sharon Sharon on Jun 10, 2021

    I did a shelving unit back using cardboard covered in bright grass cloth that I used 3M spray glue to apply to the cardboard. And then just shoved it in, after fitting the cardboard before applying the grass cloth. It didn't move in 15 years.


    Then instead of painting the library walls, I would get some art and have colored mats in a bright color to coordinate with the back of the shelving color to brighten up the room. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/132363676517752574/


  • Barb Barb on Jun 10, 2021

    Great ideas! Thanks!

  • Mogie Mogie on Jun 12, 2021

    I really like the wood look here. It isn't too dark and the grain stands out. Consider bringing in more light via the drapes and possibly a area rug. Make sure you have enough man made lighting in there for evening also.