Whitewashing Wood Paneling

by T Akery | April 18th, 2012 | Painting


Wood paneling is one of those materials that can instantly date a room. It is not the most appealing surface since it tends to make rooms look smaller due to its overbearing presence. It is also one of those potential problems that most home buyers are going to figure in their renovation costs. If you don’t want to remove the paneling or aren’t ready to deal with what’s behind it, whitewashing is probably one of your better solutions. Depending on the size of the room, it can be a lot of work though.

The very first thing you need to do is to protect the floors. You can either use plastic or drop cloths. Whitewashing can get very messy with accidental drips. It is also thinner than regular paint, so it has a tendency to run. It will also make cleanup easier after sanding.

After the floors are protected, you will need to prepare the wood paneling by sanding it. For a large area, you should consider using an electric sander with a fine grade sandpaper. You can hand sand the paneling, but it will take longer, and it will require a lot of muscle. Wear a mask for this task to prevent breathing in fine wood particles.

Once the sanding part is finished, you will need to remove any remaining wood dust with a damp rag. Simply wipe it off. You may need to rinse your rag multiple times, so be sure to squeeze out all the water.

The next step is to mix the whitewash. The basic whitewash solution contains white paint and water. Don’t try to get tinted white paint – just stick with the basic white paint. You want a bright look not a strange color look. Thoroughly mix half white paint with half water. If you do decide to use less, remember to use the same amount of each.

Use a damp rag on the wood to moisten it a little. You do not want it soaking wet. Then apply the whitewash with a brush or sponge. Begin with a small area, and avoid whitewashing large sections at once unless you have help.

At this point, you may want to experiment with the direction of the grain to see what you like best. Follow the application by wiping the excess whitewash off the wood. Remember, a whitewash does not mean that the wood disappears. It only makes the color of the wood a lot lighter.

Whitewashing is one of the many techniques to turn wood paneling into a more livable home feature. This technique allows you to lighten the room without going through the hassle of replacement. It can be a lot of work, but the results do pay off in the end.

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