DIY Painted Wall Paneling & McNay Project Update!

A complete step-by-step tutorial for how to paint wood paneling on walls with full supply list for a simple paint update that lasts.

Juuuust in case you thought we forgot about the McNay project… WE HAVE PAINT!

And I swear it’s like someone turned on the lights in this character-FILLED living room. I know there seems to be two teams when it comes to wall paneling: love or hate.

But I’m firmly with team love over here. It’s the original gangsta of vertical shiplap before the rest of the world even knew what shiplap was. So there. 😉

Here’s the before, if you weren’t around when we shared our big plans.

living room before

Since we’re going for a coastal vibe in this space, white planked walls is definitely the perfect approach. But there’s way more to painting wall paneling than putting paint on the wall and hoping it sticks.

So here’s the full run down and the crazy amazing after of this space!

Supplies Used:

(Some affiliate links are provided below. Full disclosure here.)

The Steps:

1. Clean the walls first with Krud Kutter.

2. Fill any old nail holes with wood filler using a putty knife. Scrap off any excess and let dry.

sanding wood paneling

3. Sand dry wood filler until smooth. Wipe away sanding dust with a damp rack or tack cloth.

4. Tape any molding, ceilings, or trim you don’t want painted with Frog tape and lay down drop cloths to protect floors, if you haven’t already.

5. Brush a thick coat of Masking Liquid on glass doors and windows and let dry.

shellac-based primer for painting wood paneling

5. Start priming first by applying primer using a sash brush in the grooves and along edges. Then, roll the rest to reduce the look of the brush marks. Wear a respirator mask and open doors and windows if possible, since shellac-based primer has strong fumes. Choosing a primer that isn’t oil or shellac based can cause stain from the wood paneling to bleed through and affect your paint color. Allow primer to dry completely.

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painting wall paneling

6. Paint the same way as the primer by starting with the grooves and trim first and rolling out the rest last to hide brush strokes.

painting wood paneling

how to paint wood paneling

7. Peel up the Frog tape immediately, scoring the edges with a utility knife first to prevent paint from peeling. Score edges of the Masking Liquid as well to reveal crisp, freshly painted windows and glass doors.

diy painted wood paneling

For us, it took a solid 4 days total on this job (and our bodies were FEELING it), but this end result was completely worth it. Look how prettyyyyyyy!

Such a massive change already from before:

living room before

diy painted wall paneling

We hope the rest will be smooth sailing from here with hanging curtains and wall sconces, hauling in furniture, and finding some coastal art to give this room a touch of Charleston vibes in honor of the McNays love of the coast.

diy painted wood paneling

Are you amazed?! Paint transformations get me right in the googley eyes every time.

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How to Paint Wood Paneling: A complete step-by-step tutorial for how to paint wood paneling on walls with full supply list for a simple paint update that lasts.

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  1. Looks beautiful, reminds me of when I painted a dear friends guest room probably 30 plus years ago. Vertical, dark ship lap, but when painted white the room seemed to get bigger! I remember the smile on her face!

  2. A job well done with WOW! results! What a transformation. First saw the masking liquid used on windows on the PBS show ASK THIS OLD HOUSE. From your experience, what is your opinion of its performance? Thank you!

    1. We love it! It’s been our go-to for every French door and window we’ve painted and never fails us. Just make sure to brush it on thick so it peels off easily.

  3. Wow!!! The power of paint (and a lot of hard work) is amazing. I cannot wait to see you you decorate the space. Have fun!!!!!!!!