Can I white wash over dark wood paneling ?

Catherine Bogue
by Catherine Bogue

My whole house interior is dark wood paneling which makes the house very dark. I would like to do a white wash on it but I don’t want to fill in the grooves with putty. I want to keep the look of the wood.. I have no idea where to start. Help! 🤓

  4 answers
  • Kelli L. Milligan Kelli L. Milligan on Aug 31, 2018

    I did this this for my sister in law. Looked great. First clean the paneling really well. I used spic and span. Let dry. I got a gallon of off white paint, I used Benjamin Moore's linen white. Bought an empty paint can plus a gallon of paint thinner. In the empty can I poured 1/3 paint thinner, 2/3 linen white, mixed it completely. I rolled about a 4 board width of the mixture, then I took a rag that was dipped into the mixture, wrung out, and wiped down the painted boards in the direction of the grain. If you use a dry rag, more paint will come off. You'll have to determine how white or transparent you wish it to be. You can always add more paint to make it thicker. You'll have to change rags after awhile. Old cut up t-shirts work well. Just work your way around the room. Stop and end at a groove, not in middle of board to avoid overlaps. When finished, a day later I applied a coat of polyurethane. It will slightly yellow after a few years but it will really hold up. I did this 10 years ago and it still looks great.

    I'm assuming your paneling is real wood and not the photographic wood film kind

    Good luck, your arm will get tired.

  • DesertRose DesertRose on Aug 31, 2018

    WE had an older home all wood paneling inside. We calked the cracks, then painted it with aroma free Kilz primer, then painted each room what we wanted.

  • Paul Dempsey Paul Dempsey on Sep 01, 2018

    I'm assuming we are talking about 4x8 sheet paneling? In which case I would get spray Kilz and hit the seams with that to get into the gaps between sheets. This paneling can expand and contract with changes in moisture and temperature. Much of this paneling is very smooth and paint does not adhere well. If this is your case, then run a sander over the wall with 100 grit sandpaper to make a better bond with the kilz. kilz will make the paint adhere better and stop the dark wood color from bleeding through. You may want to use a brush for the grooves first and then a roller for the wall. Or a heavier nap roller to fill the grooves while painting will catch the grooves. In any event, it usually takes a couple coats to get a good covering. I like to do my cutting in brushwork first, and then roller work to smooth out from there.

    If the paneling is not sheet paneling, then you will likely need to brush all the seems, because spraying kilz on all those joists would get expensive. You can either brush everything or rent a paint sprayer for the whole job.

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Sep 01, 2018

    Hello Catherine,

    We have a log cabin and too much wood is dark and dreary.

    We are quite pleased the previous homeowner placed thin wallboard paneling in two bedrooms and painted it a light color. I would suggest not to hesitare to your paint paneling for a room brightening update. The grooves stay -as existed. I should think the whitewashing if you didnt want to paint —would have the same effect.

    You can see in the photo below the painted paneled walls and in contrast—the dark cedar log walls in the hallway. Its a remarkable makeover!

    I think you’ll be might pleased with these results. Best wishes in your room brightening adventure! Heres a helpful link regarding painting paneling!

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