Dark paneling may make a room or a stairwell appear depressing and obsolete. Painting the timber is easier than removing it, and the look is richer and more textured with wood under the color than bare walls. Chalk paint is a natural once you want to update dark paneling, and it has the merits of good coverage and low VOCs to make it even more appealing. Preparation and painting are simple, and the result is a more light-filled space.
Clean out the wood paneling to be painted by wiping it down with mild soap and water. Wash with a clean, damp sponge and allow the wood to dry. Fill all gouges, nicks and holes with wood filler and allow the filler dry.
Sand the wood paneling. You just need to hand sand any rough places and timber filler patches, unless the panels are varnished or shellacked. If the wood is sealed with a finish, use a orbital sander to go over the entire section to be painted. Wipe the walls clean with a tack cloth to remove all sanding dust.
Mask the ceiling and baseboards at the very top and underside of the paneling, and some other molding you don’t need to paint. Use low-adhesive blue painter’s tape, which isn’t hard to remove without damaging new paint. Put it over any sections to be safeguarded from the chalk paint.
Apply the first coat of chalk paint with a brush, taking care to get from the grooves of their panels. Immediately go over the painted area with a small foam roller so you get smooth, even coverage. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly.
Give the paneling a second coat. Chalk paint has very good coverage, but a lighter color over the dark wood needs two solid coats to become opaque. As the second coat dries, evaluate the paneling in great lighting to find out whether you are going to require a third coat — usually not.