How to Cover Outdated Paneling with Texture Paint

Wenona Napolitano

Do you have ugly, uneven, cracked or outdated walls but no budget to replace them? Here’s a solution to help you cover up that old fashioned paneling and make your room look new and stylish. Texture paint and faux finishes can help cover and transform not so perfect walls.

In addition to covering that outdated paneling this technique can also be used to hide uneven drywall, cement walls and wallpaper. Read on to learn how to cover outdated paneling with textured paint.

  1. Clean out the room. Get any furniture and appliances out of the way so you can get to all the wall space. If you have any divider strips between the paneling sheets you’ll want to remove them if you can. If you can’t remove them you’ll have to deal with them and paint over them. This won’t give your walls an even finished look though, but you have to do what you can. Sometimes those strips are underneath the sheets of paneling and taking them out means ripping up the paneling which usually leads to damage and the paneling breaking. That defeats the whole purpose of covering the paneling.

  2. Remove all nails, screws and hooks that are in the walls. You want a clean slate to start with, plus you’ll want to see all the holes and dings and dents you’ll need to fill with putty.

  3. Start filling in all the seams and holes with a sandable putty or spackling paste. A good spackling paste that is for wood or masonry will work great on wood paneling. Make sure you purchase a product that is made for the type of surface you are using it on. There are different formulas for wood, cement, concrete and drywall. Apply a good thick coat to all seams, dents, holes and any other imperfections. Let it dry for a day or at least overnight. You won’t want to sand it before it is completely dry.

  4. Use a mid grain sandpaper, not too course. You don’t want it to rip off all the spackle. And do not use too fine a grain either because it won’t do anything. You don’t want to use a fine grain until the final sanding when you have things evened out. Sand the spackle down to the point where it is even with the rest of the wall surface. Do not go too far down or you’ll expose the seam lines, holes, and dents again. Try to make it as even as possible. If you go too far or you can still see the seams or dents, add another coat of putty or spackle and sand again. A small handheld electric sander can save you a lot of time and energy.

  5. Prepare the rest of the wall surface for primer once all your seams, holes, and dents are repaired. If you are covering paneling you will want to lightly sand the entire surface of the walls, you will also want to do this if you have wallpaper (if you don’t want to remove the wallpaper). You will also need to lightly roughen up the walls if you have a high gloss paint that you are trying to cover. If you have a shiny or very smooth texture paneling you will want to sand it so it roughs up the surface really good. Otherwise your primer will peel off. That happened to me. I lightly sanded it and used Kilz primer. It peeled right off. So I roughed it up some more, and then used a primer called Gripper. That didn’t peel off. The primer Gripper works well on any surface, it really sticks to it.

  6. Wipe down the surface of the walls after you are done sanding with a damp cloth or large sponge to get off all the dirt and dust. Let it dry and you are ready to prime.

  7. Apply primer evenly with a roller. If you use a product like Gripper, only one coat is needed. Now you get to decide how you want to paint your walls.

  8. Experiment with faux finishes. Get a couple sheets of poster board and several types of faux finish products like sponges, rollers, rags, or whatever else you want to try.

  9. Use a texture paint additive like Paint N Tex by Homax. It is a texture additive that could be added to regular latex paint. It comes in a box for around $4.00 with enough for at least 2 gallons of paint. Coming in fine, medium and course levels of texture it gives you options. It is also a lot cheaper to buy the additive than to buy actual texture paint. You will want to mix the paint and texture in a bucket or other container. You don’t want to ruin a whole can of paint by dumping in too much texture. Experiment with the amount of texture you want. Start out adding just a little at a time and testing it on a scrap piece of wood or cardboard until you get to your desired level of texture. When you get to that point you can mix up a gallon or half gallon, or however much you need for your size of room, and start painting.

  10. Use the texture mix as a base coat for your room. After you get the texture on the walls you can add a faux finish to hide any remaining imperfections. Mix your paint with glaze while you are waiting for your base coat to dry.

  11. Apply your faux finish once your textured base coat is dry.

  12. Touch up any smudges and you will have a stylishly updated room instead of ugly, uneven, outdated walls. Now all you have left is the redecorating which is the fun part.


Use two to three different colors of paint to give yourself a great base and faux finish that really covers the imperfections of your walls.


Make sure you tape off windows, door knobs and everything you don't want paint on. It makes clean up easier.