How to Whitewash Paneling

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Whitewashing paneling is a simple job that will add character to your paneled walls. While traditional whitewash is a lime-based application, you can get the same look with regular white paint diluted with water. Follow these steps to whitewash paneling and give your room a fresh and clean appearance.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Painter's tape
  • Drop cloths
  • White, oil-based, semigloss enamel paint
  • Mineral water
  • Paint roller
  • Paint tray
  • Cotton rag

How to Whitewash Paneling

  • Prepare your paneling. Whether your paneled walls are painted or have a natural finish, you will need to sand them thoroughly with a 150-grit sandpaper in order to make the panels ready for the whitewash. Be sure to sand with the grain to avoid creating permanent scratches in the surface.

  • Once you have sanded your walls, be sure to vacuum the walls and floor. Use a long vacuum attachment and clean the ceiling as well, since any dust you leave in the room will find its way into the paint and mar the finish. As a final step, use a damp mop to go over all surfaces.

  • Tape off windows, doors and woodwork. Also lay drop cloths over the entire floor. Whitewashing can be a messy job, so cover the area thoroughly to avoid needless damage.

  • Create the whitewash mixture. For a traditional whitewash look, combine a pint of mineral water with a gallon of white, oil-based, semigloss enamel paint. Be sure to test it on a scrap piece of paneling or other wood first. For a darker look, add more paint; if you prefer the walls to look more "washed out," use somewhat more water. Fill a traditional paint tray with the mixture.

  • Apply the whitewash to your paneling using a standard paint roller. Be sure to spread the wash on evenly. Because this mixture is very thin, it will tend to spray if you roll too quickly. Make slow even strokes with the roller. Continue covering approximately six feet of wall before stopping.

  • Wait a couple minutes for the whitewash to start drying, then wipe the walls down with a cotton rag. Be sure to wipe with the grain. As this step removes some of the paint, a clean whitewash appearance will begin to take shape. You may want to experiment a bit. For a darker wash, wait a few minutes longer before wiping.

  • Continue this process around the entire room. Once you have finished, allow 24 hours before hanging anything on your freshly whitewashed paneling.

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