How to easily paint 40 year old paneling?


My house was built in the 70's. The den and kitchen have good quality wood paneling that I want to paint. My husband spent a week painting the kitchen area.

He applied Kiltz, but the paneling is so old and dry that he had to apply at least 4 coats of paint to get it covered. The paneling kept drinking up the paint. I have a half completed project. Any suggestions on resolving this problem would be greatly appreciated so I can complete the project in a timely manner.

  8 answers
  • Cindy Cindy on Sep 12, 2018

    Hi Lynette. I'm Cindy. When you paint your paneling, use a very thick nap paint roller. That will insure that paint gets in all the nooks and crannies.

  • William William on Sep 12, 2018

    Shellac makes an excellent barrier coat over all wood species, and it sticks to almost anything. Zinsser makes a great product for this purpose, called Bullseye SealCoat. It’s a clear dewaxed shellac that you can apply to the paneling. It dries quickly and should help to absorbing primer and paint.. SealCoat is also handy to have around the shop as a general purpose wood finish and sanding sealer. So, I’m sure you’ll find other uses for what’s left of the quart you buy.

  • John Everett John Everett on Sep 13, 2018

    Use a roller with a very heavy nap. it will help get more paint to the wall.

  • Margaret Bader Margaret Bader on Sep 13, 2018

    Use a BONDING primer, not regular primer (Kilz is good but smells awful). Then when you choose your paint, get a paint and primer combo. And as others have said, a heavy nap roller will also get the paint on well. I painted the dark oppressive brown paneling in my house a few times over the last 35 yrs (finally removed it 5 yrs ago).

  • Lindsay Aratari Lindsay Aratari on Sep 13, 2018

    A heavy nap roller will work great! We had paneling in our closet and used a heavy nap roller along with Behr paint (which has built in primer) and it came out great!

    You can see it here:

  • Jewellmartin Jewellmartin on Sep 13, 2018

    Lynette, I suggest that you sand the paneling to remove years of oils and dust, as well as to remove the glaze on the paneling. Then use the Kilz. Chalk paint should work, too, but after all that work, you may want to continue with superior quality paint. Best wishes, and this sounds like a good project to post on Hometalk. ☺️

  • Melissa Rarick Melissa Rarick on Sep 17, 2018

    We painted our '70s paneling in a finished room in our basement to make it a play space for our 2 daughters. We wiped it down with the current TSP to take off any oil/dust. Then we put a coat of kilz on it. Then we painted 2 coats of a paint from Sherwin Williams that is made to paint wood. It went on beautifully and dried with a hard satin sheen. Well, my daughters are now in their early 20s and it is a TV/entertainment room for them and their friends. The toys they played with are all gone, but the paints still looks fresh and new! It was worth the work.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Dec 19, 2020


    Quick answer, Keep adding coats of paint till you get the desired affect. Should have started with a Primer coat and then an undercoat before using a top coat of paint. It will be worth it in the end!