How to Restore Wall Paneling


Real wood paneling in a living room, dining room or study can add warmth and texture to a space. Over the years, the paneling in your home might have been varnished and varnished again to add shine. Your paneling might have even been painted. At some point, you might want to strip off all of the old layers and restore your paneling to its former glory. The process is a lot of work but easily done by anyone with a free weekend.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Mask
  • Tarp
  • Chemical paint stripper
  • Paint scraper
  • Dish washing soap
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain
  • Rags
  • Paste wax
  • Put on gloves and a mask. Apply a ½-inch coat of paint stripper to the panels. Let it sit on the panels for 20 minutes. Remove the top layer from the panels with a paint stripper. The paint or varnish will come off of the panel in long, soft strips. Remove as much as you can with the stripper.

  • Squirt paint stripper directly onto a piece of fine steel wool. Remove the remaining paint by scrubbing the wood with the steel wool. Do not apply so much pressure you scratch the wood.

  • Combine two tablespoons of mild cleaner with warm water. Wipe down the wood with a small amount of the solution to remove the chemicals from the panels.

  • Attach fine grit sandpaper to a palm sander. Sand the panels in the direction of the wood grain. Remove all remaining paint or varnish. Wipe the panels with a damp towel to remove sanding dust.

  • Scoop a teaspoon of wood putty onto a putty knife. Fill nail holes and other imperfections in the panels. Let the wood putty dry. Sand the top of the putty until it is smooth with the rest of the wall.

  • Saturate a large paint brush with stain. Apply the stain to the walls. Use a rag to rub the stain into the wall while removing the excess. Let the wood fully absorb the stain. Layer any additional coats to get a deeper color.

  • Apply urethane topcoat to the walls to protect the color from fading. Choose a clear urethane in a matte finish for the most natural look.

Tips & Warnings

  • Paste wax is a good alternative to urethane. Reapply the wax every six to 12 months.

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  • Photo Credit wood texture image by Stefano Tiraboschi from
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