How to Care for and Maintain Wood Paneling


Wood paneling is loved by many, but cringed upon by others. Some view this type of decoration as outdated, while others are quite fond of its natural and dark appearance. Regardless of its effect on folks, one positive attribute of wood paneling is that it's easy to care for. Simple household acts will keep the paneling looking clean and glowing for years, often for longer than paint or wallpaper. To clean, care and maintain your wood paneling, perform a few tasks periodically or as needed.

Things You'll Need

  • Soft cloth
  • Vacuum cleaner with hose attachment
  • Spray, oil or wax designed for wood paneling
  • Laundry detergent
  • Sponge
  • Wipe a soft cloth over the paneling to remove dust or light dirt. Sweep the cloth over the entire paneling, starting at the top and working your way down toward the bottom. You could also use the hose attachment of a vacuum cleaner to remove the dust instead of the cloth, if desired.

  • Apply a cleaner designed for use on wood, if you have a bit of dirt buildup on the paneling. Typically, dirt will start to accumulate around areas that are often touched, such as the light switch plate or outlet. Sprays, waxes and rub-on oils made for wood usually resolve the issue while helping to protect the paneling. You can usually spray the liquid product directly onto the affected area and wipe it clean with a cloth. For oils, dip your cloth inside the product and rub it onto the dirty area until clean. Waxes are often applied to the spot with a cloth and rubbed in until the stain is gone. However, since each product varies by brand, read the application instructions to be sure.

  • Clean the paneling with a water and detergent mixture if the walls are significantly dirty. Pour 1/2 cup of liquid detergent into 1 gallon of warm water and mix until incorporated. Dip a soft cloth or sponge into the solution and rub in into the wood. Rinse the soap off with a water-soaked cloth immediately. Repeat the process if necessary. When finished, dry the paneling with a terry cloth by wiping it with the grain.

  • Apply polish or wax to the paneling about every six months to maintain its moisture and shine. Read the product's directions, however, since the recommended amount of use and application instructions can vary by brand.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always apply products you intend to use on the paneling in small inconspicuous areas before you use them on the entire wall. Products can affect the appearance of the wall and can cause discoloration. Allow the product to completely dry overnight before you decide if you are satisfied with the outcome.

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  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images
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