I do not recommend to "paint paneling" (I'm talking about the interior veneer wall paneling that used to be considered an "upgrade" in the 80's). Some people think painting paneling would now be considered an upgrade. Sounds easy, right? It would look good, right? Umm.........not exactly. Here's why:
Most wall paneling has vertical indented grooves/lines that will become visible after you paint the paneling. Sometimes these lines are rough so once you paint the paneling, the lines take on a textured look to your wall. These "lines" are magnified once you paint the paneling so stand back & look at your paneling & "visualize" a painted wall with visible vertical lines in it all the way across your wall. If you like that look.....great......but if you don't..................
Also, take a look at the vertical seams between each wall panel. Are they tight up against the wall? Are there any waves in the lines? Are there any gaps between the vertical edges? Look closely as you may have never noticed any problems at these vertical seam areas since the lines are generally a dark brown or black so as to "hide" any imperfections that may have been caused at the time of installing the wall paneling. Take note since you will clearly see these imperfections once you paint the paneling.
You could caulk these vertical lines (at the seam areas) but you will have to do a very good job of this as you do not want any caulking excess to be left on the smooth surface of the adjoining wall paneling. If all of the remaining vertical lines are "rough sawn", you will now have to caulk these lines as well since the paint will pick up differently at these areas than your caulked "seamed lines between each wall paneling sheet". Lots of things to consider when painting paneling.
Look at the overall wall area you are thinking about painting the paneling. Are there any bubbled or loose areas within the wall panel sheet (above & beyond the vertical seam areas)? These areas will be magnified once you paint your paneling.....something else to think about.
How much trim do you have on the wall paneling ie: corner trim,top trim,baseboard trim,etc.. Keep in mind that any "edge" you see will be "picked up" by the paint & you will see every small dark line in your wall once you have painted your wall paneling, so don't forget to caulk all of your edges of trim. Prep work is the name of the game when it comes to painting paneling.
Most wall paneling is "finished" in a glossy appearance. If you want to paint paneling such as this, you will need to make sure to "etch" the surface (sand) prior to installing a coat of primer. Priming your paneling is a must before you paint the paneling. If your paneling has the dark visible vertical lines, you may want to consider installing a "kilz" primer in these areas (prior to installing the caulking &/or if you decide not to caulk these lines) as regular primer on these lines may have a possibility of not covering 100% especially if the original installer used a black felt tip marker pen for any touch up work that may have been completed when the wall paneling was originally installed (especially at the vertical seams).
Painting the paneling will now require two coats of finish paint over the one coat of primer. If you still think you want to paint your paneling, try painting a "test" area first, before your tackle the entire project.......(behind a door,in the closet,in a storage area,behind the headboard to your bed,etc..).....just in case you decide against it.
Painting paneling can be a nightmare but you now have the knowledge to make an intelligent decision on whether or not to paint your paneling, or leave it alone. I still vote to not paint paneling but of course "you have to do what you have to do". Now you have the "tools" to help you make that decision.
Click here to "view" some other "free" painting tips for your next project.........these additional tips are in "video format"........check it out.