Can I paint barnboard paneling in my 1980s circa family room?

My family room in my 1981 colonial has barnboard paneling that makes the room look dated and dark. What can I do to update it?
Here is a close up shot of the paneling so you can see the rough texture and the dark color.
  18 answers
  • Absolutely you can paint it! :) Sand first if you'd like to remove some of the rough texture, prime well, and paint. I would recommend white or a very light cream, that will brighten up the room and look very classic.
  • Sandra K Nolan Sandra K Nolan on Jan 27, 2015
    I painted my paneling after a light sanding. I used a white with a touch of blue that could barely be noticed. I only painted the main wall and it really looked nice
  • Workerbee Workerbee on Jan 27, 2015
    Back in the day that paneling was popular, it was also common to apply a product called Liquid Gold, it was an oil that cleaned and preserved the wood. Oil stain would be fine but any water base finish will need to be primed with a stain blocker primer. Good luck
  • Rebecca Rebecca on Jan 27, 2015
    I washed mine down with trisodium phosphate so I didn't have to sand.... that would have been a lot of sanding! lol.... it looked great - painted it a lighter creamy color.
  • Tracy I have never used exterior stain, I'm sure someone at your local hardware store could probably help! Good luck!
  • Dianne Anderson Dianne Anderson on Jan 27, 2015
    I painted my dark wood paneling a warm beige. It even had designs on it like a carving. i painted over all of it and put up wallpaper border at the top. It was the 80's and I'd had enough wood paneling in my life. After finishng, I wondered why it took me so long to make the decision to brighten up my space.
  • Sandra K Nolan Sandra K Nolan on Jan 27, 2015
    I also had a friend that painted each strip in the paneling a different pastel color for their daughter's nursery
  • Belinda Todd Belinda Todd on Jan 27, 2015
    You can also buy textured paintable wallpaper at the home improvement box stores. I have done this and it looks nice.
  • Cathy Cathy on Jan 27, 2015
    I painted all the paneling in our house we just bought 2 years ago. However, I used caulk to fill in the gaps of the paneling, then sanded, caulked again, then sanded, then painted. It leaves a smooth wall, just like drywall.
  • Irishkay Irishkay on Jan 28, 2015
    Yes you can. Might have to prime and caulk. Have you thought about sanding and and making it lighter? You have a gem there,,,,enjoy.
  • Melinda Smith Melinda Smith on Jan 28, 2015
    You can paint it, but I have also seen textured wallpaper installed over it and then painted. It looked great! You couldn't tell it used to be paneling. I would suggest you clean it well first so the glue will adhere.
  • Jeanie Randall Jeanie Randall on Jan 28, 2015
    Minwax has a white wash pickling stain that might give you a result you like, going over the existing finish and allow you to keeping the wood texture. I also agree with Irishkay to try sanding it to make it lighter. good luck.
  • 4Real Linda 4Real Linda on Jan 28, 2015
    Absolutely you can paint it. I did most of my first house that way bf I knew how to sheet rock. Painting works well. If you ever want to know my inexperienced way to turn paneling into look of textured sheet rock, let me know. I did that 15 yrs ago and nobody had a clue it wasn't beautiful low texture sheet rock. I part of same technique to convert recessed outdated design on kitchen cabinets and convert to flat panel or shaker
  • LoriKindler LoriKindler on Jan 28, 2015
    Oh, we didn't even sand ours. Gave it a good cleaning, put a good primer on and 2 coats. Looks fine. It's one of the kid's bedrooms if you can believe it. She can nail up hooks where ever she wants. The master bedroom had it as well and we drywalled over that one.
  • 4Real Linda 4Real Linda on Jan 29, 2015
    Great! Email is freedmanljf @ It is time consuming but results were great. I'll give the short answer and email me if you want details. I used putty knife and compound and shackling to fill the crevices. Once u get hang of it, it's Easter than sounds, wet one or dry sand bt coats. Let dry before sanding, whip off dust and repeat until almost smooth. Net step buy dry bag of wall texture and fluffy nap. Mix in bucket with water using paint stiring bit. You can add primer in texture if you want to save a step. Roll on walls. Use a painting screen in bucket. Let dry and gentle sand to your liking. Then paint and nobody will know you did not have pros come in rip out paneling, install Sheetrock, tape and mud, then, texture. U are basically skipping cost and steps but you have more joints to fill. I sometimes fill with my fingers and putty knife. I don't live there to send pics but made a lot on that house. I will send u some picks of cabinet doors I'm doing now. Same steps but no texture. I'm doing 2 ways for use in different rooms. Turning them into sleek modern flat panel and converted some to shaker style. Did I ramble and say too much. I'm trying to learn bf I start my empowering women to go for It blog for remodeling, motivation, avoiding overuse pain after DIY projects ( was a therapist for 16 yrs and retired to remodel full time) @ 40. Lol
  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Jan 29, 2015
    @Tracy Brazeal Yanouzas you can absolutely paint it. I use old fence boards - very similar to barn wood. If you don't sand it will be harder to paint and take more paint. Not so sure I would caulk as that would deter from the look of wood. When painted, sanded or not it has a rustic but classy look. As suggested above I too would recommend the lighter colours - would look so interesting. Thanks for posting.
  • Wendy Johnson Wendy Johnson on Jan 30, 2015
    no answers, just want to save for if I paint my paneling
  • Cathy C Cathy C on Jan 30, 2015
    I like the wood as is and I personally might use accent pieces to lighten up the room but if you do want to redo the wood, might try whitewashing.