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How to Restore Dull Paneling

Chelsea Fitzgerald

Paneling gives an attractive wood finish to your walls. It saves the homeowner money because it last for decades and does not require painting. The paneling may become dull over time, due to age, smoke, dust and other substances that cling to the walls.

Paneling can appear dull over time.

You can restore the shine and luster to the wood paneling in just a few hours. Clean it properly with a solution that replaces the oils in the wood and gets rid of the grimy residue that causes it to look dull.

  1. Dust the wall paneling with an extendble feather duster or a dry dust mop. This removes any loose dust from the wall surface.

  2. Put on the rubber gloves so the hot solution will not irritate your hands.

  3. Add 2 gallons of hot water to a large bucket.

  4. Pour in 4 tbsp. of gum turpentine and 8 tbsp. of linseed oil and swish the mixture around with your gloved hand.

  5. Place a large sponge or cleaning cloth into the hot solution and wring it out so it is not dripping.

  6. Wash a 3-foot section of the paneling with the damp cloth or sponge. Use a motion that goes along with the grain of the wood. The hot water and turpentine removes any stains and built-up grime. The oil restores the shine and luster on the paneling.

  7. Wipe the moisture off the paneling with a dry, soft cloth. Buff it thoroughly to increase the shine.

  8. Start cleaning another section of the paneling and repeat the method. Continue cleaning, drying and buffing the paneling until all the surfaces are no longer dull.


Regular dusting of the paneling helps keep it looking attractive. Use a vacuum cleaner brush attachment or another dusting tool. Polish the wood paneling with a surface wax or furniture polish after cleaning, if you desire. Using mineral spirits or another type of petroleum solvent is an effective way to thoroughly clean the paneling if it is has a heavy buildup of grease and dirt. Test a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure it does not damage the finish.