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Always use primer when painting wood paneling.

Choosing the best primer for wood paneling is important for a high-quality, finished product. Painting wood paneling can be tricky and there are a lot of steps and preparation needed prior to painting that final top-coat color.

Painting wood paneling is different than regular walls; what primer you use is important. Using typical primers to paint wood paneling can be a nightmare and can cause your more work (and more money) than you ever wanted to invest in your project.

Whether your walls are made of real wood or vinyl paneling, read on to learn more about the best primer for wood paneling before getting started!

Latex, Stain-Block Primers

Wood paneling in homes is often dark and sets a heavy tone in a room.

If you have wood paneling in your home from the 60s or 70s, you know exactly what we’re talking about.

These dark walls with wood grain and different textures and finishes need a heavy-duty primer in order to be covered sufficiently by the pain. Latex, stain-blocking primers can be a bit easier to work with as opposed to oil mainly because they’re easier to clean off the brush.

Using a latex, stain-blocking primer not only helps prevent this bleed through, it gives you a smooth primer layer without the need for more than a coat or two of paint (in most cases). A high-quality latex primer can be just as good as oil-based paints, so go ahead and use that stain-blocking latex primer for your wood panels!

Mix in some color

Try mixing in a bit of the topcoat color into your latex, stain-blocking primer to help it blend well with your final paint color. This method also improves your ability to hide wood paneling and to prevent the darker colors and wood grain from bleeding through your primer.

Oil-Based Primers

Yes, it is okay to mix mediums by using an oil-based primer with a latex-based paint for your final color.

High-quality, oil-based primers can be particularly effective on wood paneling because of their ability to adhere to the glosses and finishes, which are often themselves oil-based. If you’re not sanding your wood panels prior to painting, oil-based primers might be the best choice for you.

Though oil-based primers can be rough on paint brushes and rollers, the consistency and thickness of oil-based paints will help block out the darkness of the wood paneling in a similar way to stain-blocking paints.

Other Tips before Priming

Make sure to do the proper prep work prior to priming your wood paneling.

This includes cleaning the surface with soap and water to remove the panels of dirt and oils that can create clumps and inconsistencies in the paint layers and how they adhere to the wall.

If you want to fill in the grooves between panels, be sure to do that before priming as well.

Sanding your walls before painting over wood paneling isn’t always necessary. Depending on the material of your panels and the time of finish or veneer they have, sanding may not be a big deal. Oil-based primers may adhere better to panelings with thicker, more glossy finishes. With a coat or two of high-quality oil or stain-blocking latex primer, you can get started without having to bring out the sandpaper!

When it comes down to it, the best primer for wood paneling is either a latex, stain-blocking primer or oil-based primer.

High-quality paints of either type should do a great job of covering up your wood paneling in a few coats or less while providing a smooth surface on which to apply your final paint color.

Have more questions about the best primer for wood paneling? Contact us at Kopeck Custom Painting. 

We’d love to talk to you, answer your questions, and help you get started on your own home painting project!