Painting wood paneling in your home can be tricky.

How to paint paneling without sanding is an important skill to know when tackling wood paneling renovation projects. Not only are there different types of wood paneling used as walls within homes, there are different ways to paint them and update their look to help lighten and refresh a room.

Not all wood paneling needs sanding in order to paint them well. Sanding is done to wood paneling to help remove glossy finishes or varnish, but if you have a solid coat or two of primer and use the right know-how, you should be all set!

Sanding can be messy and time-consuming, so if you don’t have to do it for good results, why bother? There are more thorough steps for preparing to paint wood paneling, but read on to learn more about how to paint your wood paneling without sanding.

1. Clean the Panels

Using a simple mixture of soap and water to remove oil and dirt from your wall will do the trick.

The wood paneling needs to be clean so that the primer and paint have a clear surface to adhere to. If there is still oil and dirt or dust on the wall when you paint, your finished paint job might be uneven or have clumps and weird patches of irregular texture.

Preparing the space before painting also includes removing objects from the wall, like framed photos, and moving any nearby furniture away from the space you’re about to paint. Putt down drop cloths and do any other steps needed to prepare before painting, like filling in the grooves between the wood panels if you wanted a flatter, finished product.

2. Prime

Always prime your walls before painting the final color.

For wood paneling, this is especially important so that the wood grain and dark colors are not visible through your layers of paint once you finish. Using quality primer is essential, especially when not sanding your wood panels.

The reason some people sand wood paneling before painting is to remove a glossy top coat and smooth over the surface. If you apply at least two coats of primer, this will cover any gloss finish on the wood while simultaneously creating a smooth, clean surface for your top coat of paint to adhere to.

For painting over wood paneling, we recommend using a latex stain-blocking primer or a high-quality, oil-based primer. Make sure you use painter’s tape to protect your edges and create clean lines in your finished paint job. Grab your paint rollers and get started!

3. Paint

If you have a solid coat of primer already applied straight onto the wood panels, painting the final color on your wall should be a breeze.

Using paint rollers, start applying your top coat at the top of the wall and work your way down. Pay attention as you go to any runs or clumped paint so that you can smooth out the paint and fix the area before it dries.

You may need to use a paintbrush to fill in smaller areas like corners and the grooves between the panels. Again, make sure you smooth over these areas with your roller while the paint is wet to create a consistent texture in the paint and get rid of any lumps or lines.

Once you let your first coat of paint dry, look to determine if the color is rich enough and that your primer is completely and evenly covered. If your primer was applied well and you have a solid coat or two or your top color, the darkness of the wood and the wood grain of the panels should not be at all visible.


We hope these steps help show you how to paint paneling without sanding!

Kopeck Painting is here to help you with any of your future painting projects.

If you have any questions about exterior or interior painting or would like to find out Kopeck Painting’s estimate for your project, call us!