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How to Add Texture to Wood Paneling

Julie Hampton

Wood paneling is installed in basements, kitchens and even living rooms. Some homeowners may consider the look of paneling outdated--the vertical lines on the wood paneling can be an eyesore. Add texture to the paneling for an old-world faux finish look. Create the look of stucco or plaster walls by covering the paneling with a hand-troweled texture.

Cover wood paneling with plaster for a texured look.
  1. Clean the wood paneling. Wash the surface with warm, soapy water. Use a sponge or scrub brush to remove buildup or debris. Wipe the surface dry with a clean towel.

  2. Prepare the project area. Remove all electrical outlet covers and air vents---unscrew with a screwdriver. Lay protective sheeting such as dropcloths or disposable painter's plastic on the floor. Apply painter's tape to any adjoining surfaces or walls where plaster should not be applied.

  3. Sand the wood paneling to create slight grit---this will increase adherence between the plaster and paneling. Use a medium to rough-grit sandpaper or sanding block. Sand in the direction of wood grain. Wipe away all dust created when sanding with a damp towel or tack cloth.

  4. Paint the wood paneling with a bonding primer. Roll on the primer with a smooth nap roller. Apply in even vertical strokes---roll as far to the ceiling and floor line as possible. Use a paintbrush to paint the inside of the wood paneling's grooves as well as the perimeter of the wall. Allow to dry 24 hours.

  5. Fill in the vertical paneling grooves, using a spackle compound. Apply the compound with a putty knife and let each layer dry before adding the next layer. Understand several layers will need to be applied into the groove area until it is even with the paneling's surface. Lightly sand the final layer with medium-grit sandpaper and remove all dust with a damp towel.

  6. Add texture to the wood paneling by troweling joint compound to the wall. Apply a small amount of plaster to the trowel. Place one side of the trowel against the wall and angle the trowel 45 degrees. Smooth on the plaster. Move the plaster in different directions to create a textured look with high and low pits and dips. Continue adding joint compound until the entire wall is covered. Allow to dry 24 hours.

  7. Inspect the surface. Look to see if any of the vertical lines of the wood paneling are visible---there will be a slight indent where the groove was. Add a second layer of plaster if some indentations are visible. Allow to dry 24 hours.

  8. Cover the plastered wall with latex paint. Paint the wall with a rough-nap roller made for textured surfaces. Roll the paint on evenly without applying pressure to the roller. Use an old paintbrush to dab paint into difficult-to-reach crevices found in the texture. Allow to dry 24 hours.