How To Whitewash Wood Paneling

29 November 2017
 Categories: , Blog


If you think your 1970's wood paneling is dark and dated, but don't want to replace them, consider white washing. White washing lightens the wood surface, decreases yellow tones, and it enhances the wood grain. Old whitewash techniques involved making a lime application, but now the same look can be achieved with paint. Whitewash your dull wood paneling by following these tips.

Prepare to Whitewash the Paneling

To whitewash the wood, you need:

  • work gloves
  • eye goggles
  •  liquid dish soap
  • sponge
  • soft cloths
  • painter's tape
  • drop cloths or plastic
  • brown paper sack of scrap cardboard 
  • fine-grit sandpaper
  • paint brushes or roller buckets
  • paint stir stick 
  • flat latex paint or oil-based semi-gloss paint 

Seal outlets and trim with painters tape, and lay plastic or drop cloths over the floor and non-removable items. Keep the room ventilates by opening a window or door, or wear a respirator. 

Sand the Wall

Sand the wall surface following the direction of the wood grain, sanding enough to remove the gloss. Use an electric sander to make the job go faster.Following the pattern of the wood grains prevents permanent scratches.

Remove sanding dust with a vacuum cleaner or a tack cloth, being certain to get into the indentations. Mix some dish soap in a bucket of warm water, scrub the walls to remove any sanding dust remnants and debris, rinse, and let them dry. 

Add the Whitewash

You may also use other light colors instead of white, such a slight gray. Priming isn't needed for whitewash, if you want the wood grain to show. To show less wood grain, brush on a thin coat of primer, and let it dry.

Fill a clean bucket with several inches of water. Add the paint to the water, and stir. he amount to paint commonly isn't important, but to be safe, make it thinner to start, then add more paint. 

To make the traditional whitewash, use an oil-based semi-gloss enamel paint. Dab a paint brush or roller in the mixture, and test the color on cardboard or a paper bag. 

Apply the white wash using random strokes, quickly drying drips with a cloth. Let the whitewash dry several minutes, then dab extra paint with a cloth, if it is too thick. For a darker finish, wait longer before you wipe the paint. Add additional coats  until you get the desired thickness, letting each coat dry separately.

 Let the wall dry twenty-hours before putting everything back in place. Don't add polyurethane, since this will likely cause the walls to yellow. Contact a painting company for more help.