What To Do With Paneling On Walls
Wall finishes

What To Do With Paneling On Walls


What To Do With Paneling On Walls: Paneling on walls, whether it’s classic wood paneling or more contemporary materials, has been a staple of interior design for decades. While it can add character and charm to a space, there may come a time when you want to update or transform your paneled walls to better suit your evolving style or modern trends.

In our guide on “What To Do With Paneling On Walls,” we explore creative and practical solutions to address this common interior design challenge. Whether you’re looking to refresh, revamp, or completely reimagine your paneled walls, we have you covered.

Discover a wide range of transformative ideas, from painting and staining techniques that breathe new life into your existing paneling to innovative ways to incorporate wall paneling into a contemporary or eclectic interior. We’ll provide tips on how to make paneling work for your specific design goals, whether you want to create a cozy, rustic atmosphere or achieve a sleek, modern look. Let’s embark on this journey of interior design possibilities and learn how to make the most of your paneled walls to achieve a space that reflects your unique style and vision.

What To Do With Paneling On Walls

What can I use to cover wall paneling?

Caulk and Wallpaper

If you’d rather avoid doing any extra painting, wallpaper is another great alternative for covering up fake wood paneling. The catch is that wallpaper on its own is not thick enough to fully conceal the grooves underneath. Using caulk to fill the grooves is a quick fix for this problem.

Covering wall paneling is a great way to give your space a fresh, updated look.

Here are some options:

Paint: Painting is one of the most common and effective ways to cover wall paneling. Clean the paneling, apply a quality primer, and then paint it in the color of your choice. This can completely transform the appearance of the paneling and make it look like drywall.

Wallpaper: Wallpapering over paneling can create a stylish and textured effect. Use wallpaper adhesive to apply your chosen wallpaper directly onto the paneling. Choose a wallpaper design that complements your decor.

Drywall: Installing drywall over the paneling is a more involved option but can give you a smooth, blank canvas. Attach drywall sheets to the paneling using screws or adhesive, and then finish the seams with joint compound and sanding for a seamless look.

Faux Stone or Brick Panels:

For a rustic or industrial look, consider covering paneling with faux stone or brick panels. These panels come in various styles and are designed to be installed over existing surfaces.

Beadboard or Wainscoting: Installing beadboard or wainscoting over the paneling is a classic and stylish choice. These materials can add texture and depth to your walls while covering the existing paneling.

Fabric: For a soft, textured appearance, you can use fabric to cover paneling. Apply a heavy-duty adhesive or fabric starch to attach the fabric to the paneling, stretching it taut for a smooth finish.

Wood Veneer: If you prefer the look of wood but want to update your paneling, consider applying wood veneer sheets. Veneer can be glued directly onto the existing paneling and then stained or finished to your liking.

Tile or Beadboard Wallpaper: Tile or beadboard wallpaper can be an affordable and easy way to cover paneling. These textured wallpapers mimic the appearance of real tile or beadboard.

Remember to prepare the paneling properly before covering it, ensuring it’s clean, dry, and free of imperfections. The choice of covering material depends on your design preferences and the style you want to achieve in your space.

How can I make my paneled walls look better?

How to Make Wood Paneling Look More Modern

  1. APPLY SOME PAINT. For an easy, quick update to your wood paneling, add a fresh coat of paint. 

To make paneled walls look better and enhance the aesthetics of a room, consider the following tips:

Paint or Stain: One of the most effective ways to improve the look of paneled walls is by painting or staining them. A fresh coat of paint or a new stain color can completely transform the appearance of the paneling.

Fill Seams and Gaps: Fill any seams, gaps, or imperfections in the paneling with wood filler or caulk. Sand the filled areas smooth for a seamless finish.

Add Molding: Installing molding or trim around the edges of the paneling can give it a finished and polished look. Crown molding, chair rail, and baseboards can all complement paneled walls beautifully.

Change Hardware and Fixtures: Updating the hardware and fixtures in the room, such as light switches, outlets, and doorknobs, can make a significant difference in how the paneled walls are perceived.

Decorate Thoughtfully: Use decor elements like artwork, mirrors, and shelving to divert attention from the paneling. These items can draw the eye and create a focal point in the room.

Choose Complementary Furnishings:

Select furniture and furnishings that complement the style and color of the paneled walls. This can create a cohesive and harmonious design.

Add Lighting: Proper lighting can make a big difference. Consider adding sconces, pendant lights, or floor lamps to illuminate the room and highlight specific areas.

Use Textiles: Incorporate textiles such as curtains, rugs, and throw pillows to soften the overall look and add warmth and texture to the space.

Accent Wall: Rather than covering all the walls, consider designating one as an accent wall. You can paint or decorate this wall differently to create a focal point.

Create a Gallery Wall: Arrange a collection of artwork, photographs, or decorative items on the paneled wall to create a gallery-like display.

Remember that making paneled walls look better is often a matter of personal style and preferences. Experiment with different design elements to achieve the desired look and ambiance in your space.

What can I do with leftover wall paneling?

You can add a few panels together to make a simple table and even use the wood to make chairs, wooden sofas, or even a bed. If you’re removing the wood paneling from all the rooms in your house, you’ll probably have enough wood to make a complete furniture set.

Leftover wall paneling can be repurposed in creative and practical ways:

Create Wall Art: Cut the paneling into smaller pieces and paint or decorate them to create unique wall art or decorative panels.

Build Furniture: Use the paneling to build small furniture pieces like shelves, a coffee table, or a headboard for a bed.

Make Coasters: Cut the paneling into coaster-sized pieces, sand the edges, and finish them with a clear sealant for custom coasters.

Design a Backsplash: Use the paneling as a decorative backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom. Paint or stain it to match your decor.

Craft Projects: Incorporate the leftover paneling into various craft projects, such as making picture frames, signs, or storage boxes.

Cover Bookshelves:

Line the back of bookshelves or cabinets with the paneling to add texture and visual interest.

Accent Wall: If you have enough leftover paneling, consider creating an accent wall in another room to add character and depth.

Repurpose in Renovation: Keep the paneling for potential future renovation or repair projects where you may need matching material.

Donate or Sell: If you don’t have a use for the leftover paneling, consider donating it to a local charity or selling it to someone who might need it for their project.

Save for Patching: Keep small pieces for future patching or repairs on the existing paneled walls.

This sustainable approach can save you money and reduce waste.

Is paneling on walls outdated?

Wood wall paneling is an oldie but goodie that people have recently popularized to make their space look beautiful and sophisticated. Wood walls date back to the Victorian era, eventually becoming a staple in mid-century homes. Since then, the style has been adapted to enhance classic and contemporary interiors.

Paneling on walls is not inherently outdated. While it was a popular design trend in past decades, it has evolved over time to include a wide range of styles and materials. Whether paneling is considered outdated or not depends on various factors:

  1. Style and Material: Traditional wood paneling, especially in darker shades, may be associated with older design trends. However, modern paneling materials, such as MDF, PVC, or textured wall panels, offer contemporary options that can fit well with current interior design styles.
  2. Design Intent: The way paneling is used plays a significant role. When integrated thoughtfully as an accent or feature wall, paneling can enhance a room’s aesthetics. It’s not about whether paneling is outdated but how it’s incorporated into the overall design.
  3. Color and Finish: The color and finish of paneling make a difference. Lighter, painted paneling can provide a fresh and updated look compared to dark, stained paneling.
  4. Design Trends: Interior design trends are constantly evolving. What’s considered stylish today may change in the future. However, many classic design elements

What is the cheapest way to cover paneling?

If tearing out your wood paneling is a no-go either because of the mess and stress or because you need to keep the reno project small-scale and budget-friendly, you can try covering the wood paneling: Paint. Painting wood paneling a light color can make it much less noticeable.

The cheapest way to cover paneling depends on your budget and desired outcome.

Here are some cost-effective options:

  1. Painting: Painting is often the most budget-friendly option. A fresh coat of paint can transform paneling and give it a new look. Choose a paint color that complements your decor and style. Properly preparing the paneling, including cleaning and priming, is essential for a successful paint job.
  2. Wallpaper: Wallpaper is an affordable option that can hide paneling effectively. There are many styles and patterns to choose from, allowing you to customize the look of your space. Wallpaper adhesive and tools for installation are relatively inexpensive.
  3. Fabric: Using fabric to cover paneling is a low-cost option that can add texture and warmth to a room. Fabric can be adhered to the paneling with fabric starch or heavy-duty adhesive. Ensure the fabric is taut and wrinkle-free for a neat finish.
  4. Beadboard or Wainscoting: Installing beadboard or wainscoting panels over existing paneling is an affordable way to enhance the appearance of your walls. These materials are relatively inexpensive and provide a classic look.
  5. Wood Veneer: Wood veneer is a thin layer of real wood that can be glued over paneling. It can give the appearance of solid wood at a lower cost.
  6. Stickers or Decals: Peel-and-stick wall decals or stickers are a budget-friendly way to cover paneling temporarily. They come in various designs and can be easily removed when you want to change the look.

Remember that the cheapest option may not always provide the most long-lasting or durable results. Consider your long-term goals and the condition of the existing paneling when choosing the most cost-effective solution.

What color looks best on paneling?

White is always classic and is currently all the rage. It can give your wood-paneled wall the “pop” to stand out in a great way. Use black, navy or dark grey as furniture and wall decor accents and you can’t go wrong. Add some simple greenery to complete your look.

The choice of color for paneling depends on your design preferences, the style of the room, and your desired ambiance. Here are some color options that can work well on paneling:

White or Light Neutral: White or light neutral colors, such as beige or gray, can make a room feel bright, airy, and spacious. They are excellent choices for small or dark spaces and can create a timeless and classic look.

Contrast Colors: Using a color that contrasts with the surrounding decor can make the paneling stand out as a focal point. For example, dark paneling in a light-colored room can create a striking contrast.

Natural Wood Tones: If you have real wood paneling, you may want to highlight its natural beauty by using a clear sealant or a stain that enhances the wood’s natural tones. This approach works well in rustic or traditional spaces.

Bold Colors:

For a bold and modern look, consider using vibrant or dark colors on the paneling. This can add drama and character to a room, especially in contemporary designs.

Tonal Colors: Choosing a color that closely matches the surrounding walls can create a seamless, monochromatic look. This approach is subtle and can make the paneling blend in with the overall decor.

Subtle Pastels: Soft pastel colors like pale blue, mint green, or blush pink can give a room a gentle and calming atmosphere. They work well in bedrooms and bathrooms.

Gray Tones: Shades of gray, from light to dark, are versatile and can complement a wide range of decor styles. Gray paneling can provide an elegant and contemporary backdrop.

Should I paint paneling or remove it?

Since removing it could be costly, consider a coat of paint. It can instantly make that dingy paneling look fresh and bright for a fraction of the cost.

The decision to paint paneling or remove it depends on several factors, including your design goals, the condition of the paneling, and your budget. Here are some considerations for both options:

Painting Paneling:

  1. Cost-Effective: Painting is often more budget-friendly than removing paneling, as it eliminates the need for demolition and replacement materials.
  2. Design Flexibility: Painting allows you to change the color and style of the paneling to better suit your decor. It can give the paneling a fresh and updated look.
  3. Preservation: If the paneling is made of high-quality wood or has sentimental value, painting can preserve it while providing a new appearance.
  4. Ease of Application: Painting is a relatively straightforward DIY project that doesn’t require extensive skills or tools.
  5. Quick Transformation: Painting can quickly transform the look of a room and is less disruptive than removing paneling.

Removing Paneling:

  1. Desire for a Different Wall Finish: If you desire a different wall finish, such as drywall, removing paneling may be necessary to achieve a smooth surface.
  2. Poor Condition: If the paneling is severely damaged, warped, or in poor condition, removing it might be the best option to address underlying issues.
  3. Design Aesthetic: Some homeowners prefer the clean, untextured look of drywall or a different wall finish, which may not be achievable through painting.
  4. Structural Concerns: In some cases, paneling may be attached to subpar or inadequate wall structures. Removing it can reveal and address any structural issues.
  5. Full Renovation: If you’re planning a comprehensive room renovation, removing paneling can provide a blank canvas for a complete redesign.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to your specific circumstances and preferences. If the paneling is in good condition and you like the wood texture but want a different color, painting is a viable option. However, if you dislike the paneling’s texture or it’s in poor condition, removing it and replacing it with another wall finish may be the better choice. Assess the paneling’s condition, weigh the pros and cons, and consider consulting with a professional if you’re unsure about the best course of action.

Why do people put paneling on walls?

If you are looking for a simple way to add more soundproofing and insulation to your home, wall paneling can also help. Adding this layer to your walls can help keep warm air in during the winter and cool air in during the summer.

People choose to put paneling on walls for several reasons:

Aesthetic Appeal: Paneling can add visual interest and texture to a room. It comes in various styles, from classic wood paneling to modern materials with unique patterns, allowing homeowners to achieve their desired aesthetics.

Warmth and Coziness: Wood paneling, in particular, can create a warm and cozy atmosphere in a space.

Versatility: Paneling is versatile and can be applied in various ways. It can cover entire walls, be used as wainscoting, or act as an accent wall, providing design flexibility.

Protection: Paneling can protect walls from wear and tear, stains, and moisture. This makes it suitable for high-traffic areas or spaces prone to splashes, such as kitchens and bathrooms.

Design Consistency:

Paneling can create a consistent design theme throughout a room or home. .

Insulation: Some paneling materials, like wood, provide insulation benefits, helping to regulate room temperature and reduce energy costs.

Customization: Homeowners can customize paneling with various finishes, stains, or paint colors to match their decor and personal style.

Heritage and Tradition: Paneling has a long history in interior design and architecture, and some homeowners choose it to honor traditional or historical design elements.

Quick Installation: Compared to other wall finishes like drywall, paneling can be quicker and easier to install, making it an attractive option for DIY projects.

Texture and Dimension: Paneling adds texture and dimension to walls, breaking up large, flat surfaces and creating visual interest.

It’s important to note that paneling styles and materials have evolved over time, and modern paneling options offer a wide range of choices to suit contemporary design preferences. Whether for its aesthetic appeal, functional benefits, or design versatility, paneling remains a popular choice in interior design for those looking to enhance the look and feel of their living spaces.

What To Do With Paneling On Walls


Our exploration of “What To Do With Paneling On Walls,” it’s clear that paneling, once considered outdated by some, has proven its versatility and adaptability in modern interior design. Whether you chose to preserve the natural beauty of wood paneling, embrace its vintage charm, or transform it into a contemporary design element, your paneled walls can be an asset to your living space.

Throughout this guide, we’ve delved into a plethora of creative and practical approaches to make the most of your wood paneling. You’ve learned how to paint, stain, and finish paneling to refresh its appearance or create a stunning focal point. We’ve explored ways to balance paneling with complementary decor, ensuring it harmonizes with your overall design vision.

Remember that with a dash of imagination, a sprinkle of creativity, and a bit of guidance, your paneled walls can be a canvas for your personal style. Whether you opt for subtle updates or bold transformations, your living space will benefit from the attention and care you invest in your paneled walls.

Thank you for joining us on this journey of design possibilities, and may your paneled walls continue to inspire and enhance your home for years to come.