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How to Make Wood Paneling Look Like Drywall

Updating paneling can be expensive, but instead of removing it you could make wood paneling look like drywall with this easy DIY wood paneling project. Instead of spending money to add drywall to hideous wood paneling, you can paint over it or use our tips and tricks.

What can you do with that old Wood Panel Wall?

If you want your wood paneling to look like drywall, there’s a solution.

I will warn you this is time consuming, but it’s a cheap DIY wood paneling project that can be done by a beginner.

Read on to learn how to make wood paneling look like drywall!

how to make wood paneling look like drywall

Make Wood Paneling Look Like Drywall

To make wood paneling look like dry wall, you could do what I did to a paneling room at my mom’s old house.

This was a super easy wood paneling update to renovate this room, but just took some patience.

For this DIY wood paneling project, you will fill in the cracks of the paneling (where the boards separate).

how to turn wood paneling into dry wall
Spackling the paneling

It was definitely tedious to fill in each section of paneling, but the end results look great.

This is much cheaper than tearing down the paneling, or putting up drywall over it.

I could have painted over the paneling, but I did not want the texture or lines from the paneling to show through.

Updating paneling is as simple as spackle, sand, and paint the new wall.

wood panel
It will look like its from a horror movie lol

How to Spackle Wood Paneling

Start by filling in the cracks in between each board of the paneling with spackle.

Depending on the size of the room, you probably want a large bucket of spackle to complete this project.

I also, recommend purchase a few putty knives to help make it easier to apply the spackle.

Use the putty knife to make it as smooth as possible in the cracks between the paneling.

It is best to complete all of the spackling then let it dry completely.

Once I finished spackling the entire room, I sanded everything at the same time to prevent cleaning up dust multiple times.

wood panel wall
Here is another picture of the wall before sanding

Issues Updating Wood Panel Wall

We ran into a unique issue where part of the wood paneling was “bubbled.”

The wood paneling would bubble if you pressed on it and it would easily be depressed.

I cut away parts of the wood panel wall where this was happening.

Essentially peeling it off until I ran into an area where it was firm and adhered to wall again.

You will have to fill those parts in with spackle as well.

how to make wood paneling look like drywall
Sanding the wood paneling wall

How to Sand Wood Paneling

After you finish filling in all of the cracks with spackle, the next step is quite dusty.

So, make sure to wear a mask, old clothing, and safety glasses.

Before doing any sanding, I also recommend remove all furniture from the room.

I used an electric sander to smooth the spackle on the wood paneling.

The hand sander saved me a lot of time, but I had to change sand paper frequently.

Hand to Sand Wood Panel Wall

If you plan on sanding the spackle by hand, and depending on the room size, it could take longer.

Keep in mind, the room that I did, was rather large so this took me quite a bit of time to complete.

I would recommend jumping right to a high grit sand paper to make is as smooth as possible and flush to the rest of the wall boards.

Sanding may peel off some wood paneling as you start to smooth the spackle.

So, you may have to go over a couple of spots on the wood paneling with the spackle again.

Also, you may run into an issue like I did where the paneling wasn’t completely joined at the corners, where two walls meet.

I just used paintable caulk to fill in the gaps.

How to Paint Wood Paneling

Make sure you wipe down the walls with a damp rag or towel afterwards to get all of the dust off before painting.

I also, recommend vacuuming the entire room to prevent any dust from getting onto your freshly painted wall.

As you can see, we needed two coats of primer before actually painting.

If you only do one coat, you might still be able to see the paneling behind it.

We went with a lighter color for the final paint color, so if you decide to go with a darker color you might be able to get away with one coat of primer.

If you need help selecting the best paint products for your DIY wood paneling project, check out these must have paint products.

We also, share our best tips and tricks to save so much time and make painting your room a lot easier.

How to paint wood paneling
Painting wood paneling – Easy Wood Paneling Update

Paint the walls a color of your choosing after that, and that should be it!

If you notice other defects while painting, you may have to go over it again with spackle, but the hard part is done.

If you need some pointers to paint your new smooth walls this is the easiest way to apply paint to walls, paint straight clean lines along ceilings, trim, and baseboards.

These tips and tricks will save so much time and make painting a room a lot easier.

wood panel wall

Save money by following these simple steps

Looking at the finished product, you legitimately wouldn’t even know that there was wood paneling here.

This can be time consuming and messy at times, but well worth it in the end.

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DIY Home Improvement Ideas That Save Money - Rock Solid Rustic

Wednesday 1st of September 2021

[…] Wood paneling is so dark and really doesn’t do much for a room. It can be a big expense to rip it out and replace, so instead you can turn wood paneling into drywall with this trick. […]

Allie Ross

Sunday 15th of August 2021

Wow, I've never seen or heard of this being done before, but it's such a good idea! Thanks for the insight, great post!

Brian & Lacey

Sunday 15th of August 2021

Thank you! Let us know if you have any questions with your project! :)


Sunday 2nd of May 2021

What was the room size, how long did it take from start to finish, and did you work on it continuous or spread out over several days? Thank you for your response.

Brian & Lacey

Thursday 20th of May 2021

Sorry for the delayed response on this. The room was large. I don't have the exact measurements, but the room fit a sofa, tv, queen bed, dresser, and desk. I finished spackling and sanding in 2 weekends then I painted. It was easy, just a tedious process. I hope this helps, good luck with your project!

Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformation Kit Tips and Tricks - rock solid rustic

Friday 7th of August 2020

[…] How to Make Wood Paneling Look Like Drywall […]

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