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How to Make Wood Paneling Look Like Drywall?

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One of the main reasons why wood paneling is so popular even now hides in its affordability. We love to cover walls with wood because it’s durable and can last for many years if properly maintained.

These days we homeowners focus more on modern house styles with a minimalistic approach, which means removing or covering your wood paneling with drywall. If you are low on budget and still wanna achieve the same result, we might have a solution for you. Read on!.

Can you make paneling look like drywall?

Can you make paneling look like drywall?

Yes, you can make wood paneling look like drywall without actually removing it. This can be done by using a drywall mud or joint compound, filling in the grooves, and finishing it with paint.

TIP: Use good quality latex paint as they are easier to paint over wood, dry out quickly and give your paneling the drywall finish.

What is the estimated time to convert paneling to drywall?

Estimate time depends on the size of your room and wood paneling. Additionally, it also depends on your skill level.

In addition, you’ll also have to wait for the joint compound to dry for 24 hours before applying another coat or cover with paint.

How to Make Wood Paneling Look Like Drywall

Making wood paneling look like drywall can be done without any professional help, and all you need is some basic tools and supplies.

Supplies & Tools

  • Tape measure
  • Dust Mask
  • Goggles
  • Gloves and hair cap
  • Paint roller and tray
  • Paintbrush
  • Joint compound or spackle
  • Drywall knife
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • A lint-free or damp cloth
  • Stiff putty knife
  • Plastic Tarp
  • Vacuum Cleaner (optional)
  • Step Ladder (optional)

1. Measure the height and width of the room

To measure the height and width of your wood paneling, you will need a tape measure. Once you have measured the height and width, you can use this information to estimate how much joint compound and paint you will need.

2. Decide the Color of the Paint

Next, you will need to decide the color of paint you want to use. You can also use a primer before painting the wood paneling if you want it to have a solid white finish or use any lighter tone.

3. Cover Appliances or move out furniture

Cover any appliances in the room or move out your furniture. This is because paint and joint compound can get messy and the best way to protect your room stuff is to either cover it or move away for a while.

TIP: Plastic tarp is perfect for this purpose. It will help protect them from getting dirty and speed up the cleaning process once you have finished your project.

4. Clean all grease and dirt from paneling

The next step is to clean all the grease and dirt from the panels. This can be done by using a vacuum cleaner and a damp cloth. Make sure to remove all the dust and debris before you start working on the project.

TIP: Use oil soap and mix with lukewarm water and clean the wood panels with it. Doing this will help remove grease which might hinder joint compounds to stick in the grooves.

5. Fill in the grooves with joint compound

You can fill the grooves with joint compounds by using a putty knife or a drywall knife. Make sure to fill in all the grooves and get them as smooth as possible. Additionally, check for any damage or holes and fix them.

In most cases, you’ll need 2 coatings of joint compound to get a matte drywall finish. Let each coating dry for about 24 hours.

6. Sand the surface

When sanding joint compound, it is best to use fine-grit sandpaper. This will help to achieve a smooth finish. Additionally, sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid any damage. You can use grit paper of 120-220 to get a smooth finish.

After sanding, use a vacuum cleaner and damp cloth to wipe away any excess dust.

7. Prime and Paint

After you have sanded the joint compound, it is time to prime and paint the wood panels. Make sure to use a good-quality primer beforehand. If you don’t want to prime it, you can use paints like Prestige, which has the primer built-in.

I would use 2-3 coats of Prestige for a perfect finish. Let each coat of paint dry for about 24 hours for the best result.

What are other ways to fill in wood paneling seams other than joint compound?

There are two other ways I can remember but can not really compare with joint compounds because are meant for smaller repairs or fills.

  • Caulking: This is a good option if you want a watertight seal. On the other hand, it’s time-consuming, more expensive, and not appropriate for larger coverage.
  • Wood Filler: It is another cool option if you want to repair any damage on the paneling. It is not meant to fill entire gaps.

What are other Methods To Cover Paneling?

There are a few other methods to cover paneling if you don’t want a joint compound.


Wallpaper is a good option if you want to add some pattern or design to the paneling. It is also an easy way to cover up any damage. It is generally hung in strips, but can also be used in panels. Wallpaper comes in a variety of designs, patterns, and textures.


Paint is a liquid that is applied to surfaces to change their color or protect them from damage. It can be used to cover up any damage and change the original color. This, however, will not cover paneling; rather, it will alter its overall appearance.

Vinyl Wall Covering

Vinyl wall covering is a type of plastic sheeting that is used to cover walls and ceilings. It is available in a variety of colors and designs, making it a good option to cover up your wood panelling. Additionally, vinyl is easy to install and highly durable.

Fibreglass Wall Panels

Fiberglass is a type of plastic that is often used to cover walls and ceilings. It is available in a variety of colors and designs, making it a good option to cover up wood paneling as well.

What if my panelling is already semi-gloss painted?

If your paneling is already semi-gloss painted, you might need to sand down the paneling first to create a smooth surface.

What to do, if my panelling is damaged?

If your paneling is damaged, you can use wood filler to repair the damage before applying a joint compound or putty knife.

What should I do if my wall panelling is curved?

If the paneling is curved, you might want to try using stucco as its more forgiving.

Will the joint compound fall off the grooves after some time?

The joint compound should not fall off the grooves after some time but it is important to make sure that you use a quality joint compound and let it dry completely before painting.

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