How to Make Wood Paneling Look Like Drywall

Do you have wood paneling in your home that you want to update and make feel more modern? If so, this blog post is here to help! 

How to Make Wood Paneling Look Like Drywall

While replacing the wood paneling can be costly, with some elbow grease and guidance from us, we’ll show you how to make wood paneling look like drywall – giving your space a timeless look on a budget. 

The results may even surprise you! So read on if you’d like to learn how easy it is to get this desirable aesthetic without buying new wall coverings.

Tools and Materials You Will Need to Make Wood Paneling Look Like Drywall

  • Putty knife
  • Drywall joint compound
  • Paintable caulk
  • Primer and paint
  • Sandpaper (medium grit)
  • Sponge
  • Painter’s tape
  • Rag or cloth

Step by Step Guidelines on How to Make Wood Paneling Look Like Drywall

Step 1: Prepare the Surface of the Wood Paneling

Before you can get to work transforming your wood paneling, it is important to make sure the surface is clean and ready for painting. Start by using a putty knife to remove any excess gunk or debris from the paneling. 

Make Sure the Surface is Clean

Preparing the surface will also give you a better idea of what kind of work you may need to do to make the paneling look like drywall. So before going any further, clean the wood paneling thoroughly.

Step 2: Fill in Any Gaps with Joint Compound and Caulk

Once you have cleaned the surface of the wood paneling, look closely at it and see if any gaps or holes need to be filled. If so, use a joint drywall compound to fill them in. 

Be sure the joint compound is completely dry before moving on to the next step. After you have filled any gaps, use paintable caulk to cover up any seams or cracks between the wood paneling planks. This will help make your wood paneling look more like drywall and will make it easier to paint the wall.

Step 3: Sand and Prime the Wood Paneling

Once all the gaps have been filled, you’ll want to use medium grit sandpaper and a sponge for sanding down any uneven surfaces on your wood paneling lightly. This will help create a smooth surface that is ready for primer and paint. 

Use Medium Grit Sandpaper

If you are using a latex-based primer, use a damp rag or cloth to wipe the wood paneling down before priming it. Otherwise, if you’re using an oil-based primer, use painter’s tape around the edges of the wall to protect your baseboards from spills. Once the primer has been applied, your wood paneling is ready for paint!

Step 4: Paint the Wood Paneling

Using a brush or roller, begin painting on your chosen color of paint. Be sure to use even strokes and get into all the nooks and crannies between the wood planks. 

You may want to apply several coats of paint depending on your color and the look you are trying to achieve. For example, if you are going for a lighter color, it is best to use two or three coats in order to get an even finish. After each coat of paint has been applied, let it dry before applying the next.

Step 5: Clean Up

Once your paint is completely dry, it’s time to clean up and admire your work! If any drips are on the baseboards, use a damp cloth to wipe them off. You can also use a vacuum with a brush attachment to get rid of any dust or dirt that may have been collected on the baseboards.

And there you have it! With just a few simple steps, you can quickly and easily make your wood paneling look like drywall – giving your space a timeless style without breaking the bank. Good luck!

Additional Tips and Tricks to Make Wood Paneling Look Like Drywall

1. Use a Vacuum Cleaner:

A vacuum cleaner is an effective way to remove any dirt and dust that may be embedded in the wood paneling. This will help make it look like there was never any paneling present. Using a vacuum cleaner will also help improve the paneling’s overall look and feel. So it’s important to use a vacuum cleaner on the wood paneling regularly.

Use a Vacuum Cleaner on the Wood Paneling

2. Apply Primer:

Applying primer to the wood paneling can help create an even surface and make it look more like drywall. Choose a high-quality primer that is designed to adhere well to wood surfaces and apply it with a paintbrush or roller. This will also help to protect the wood paneling from any damage caused by water or sunlight over time.

3. Use Joint Compound:

A joint compound can be used to fill in any gaps between the joints of the wood paneling, making it look more like drywall. Start by sanding down the edges of each panel and then apply the joint compound with a putty knife. Allow the joint compound to dry before painting over it.

4. Paint Your Panel: 

Once you have applied primer to the wood paneling and filled in any gaps, you can now start painting it. Choose a paint color matching your room’s existing décor and apply the paint with a good-quality paintbrush or roller. Allow the paint to dry before you enjoy the new look of your wood paneling.

5. Consider Adding Trim:

If you want to go a step further and make your wood paneling look even more like drywall, consider adding trim around each panel. This will help give the paneling a finished look and hide any imperfections in the wood structure. Use a good-quality trim that is designed for high-moisture areas, such as bathrooms or kitchens, for best results.

Adding Trim Around Each Panel

Following these tips and tricks can help transform your wood paneling from outdated and old to modern and sleek. With just a few simple steps, you can completely change the look of your wood paneling and make it look like drywall. The results are sure to impress!

Precautions Need to Follow for Making Wood Paneling Look Like Drywall

1. Ensure the wood paneling is securely attached to the wall and that there are no loose or damaged pieces. If any defects are present, it will be difficult for paint or other covering material to adhere properly.

2. Sand the wood paneling surface in order to make it smooth enough for a new coating of paint or drywall. Use an orbital sander or sandpaper to ensure the surface is uniform and even.

3. Once the wood paneling is sanded, it’s time to apply a primer. Primer helps create a barrier so that paint adheres better to the wood paneling. Allow proper drying time between coats of primer.

4. After the primer is dry, it’s time to apply either paint or a joint compound over the wood paneling. When using paint, use two coats for best results, and be sure to allow proper drying times between each coat. You may need several application layers with sanding between each coat when using a joint compound.

5. Once the desired surface is achieved, add texture or wallpaper to give the wood paneling a unique look. If opting for wallpaper, purchase high-quality adhesive that will last and won’t cause damage over time.

6. Finally, apply a sealant or varnish to the wood paneling if you want to seal the job. This will help ensure that the wood paneling looks like drywall for years to come.

With the following precautions, you can make wood paneling look like drywall and enjoy the results for years. Be sure to take proper measures so that the job is done right the first time. With patience and preparation, you’ll be able to achieve the desired result. Happy decorating!

Things You Should Consider While Making Wood Paneling Which Looks Like Drywall

1. Choose the right type and style of paneling for the space. Different types of wood paneling have different qualities and textures, so choosing one that works best with your desired look is important.

2. Purchase enough panels to cover the entire surface you’re working with. Measure the walls and ceiling carefully before buying your paneling and getting to work.

Measure the Walls

3. Sand the wood paneling with fine-grain sandpaper for smooth surfaces. This will prepare the panels for painting and make them look more like drywall.

4. Prime the walls before painting them with an acrylic primer that helps seal any gaps between boards and makes painting a breeze.

5. Use high-quality paint and an angled brush to cover the wood paneling effectively. Choose a color as close to drywall white as possible, or go for something bolder if you’re feeling adventurous!

6. Install crown molding at the top of the wall near the ceiling, which will help add a more modern look and break up the panels.

7. Add texture to the walls by adding wall decals or hanging artwork that compliments the space and blends with your chosen paint color.

8. Finish the project with new light fixtures, window treatments, and furniture that work well with the room’s overall style. Making wood paneling look like drywall is a great way to give your space an updated and modern feel. 

With these considerations in mind, you can ensure your wood paneling looks like drywall and gives your space a modern, updated feel. Then, with the right type of paneling, paint color, and accessories, it’s possible to transform any room into something special! Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Tools Do I Need to Make Wood Paneling Look Like Drywall?

You will need a circular saw, safety glasses, sandpaper, joint compound, paint roller, tray with edging naps, primer, paint brushes, and rollers. Additionally, you may need caulk if the panels have gaps or cracks.

Do I Need to Use Special Paint for This Project? 

No, you don’t need to use special paint. However, choosing a paint that matches your décor and works best on wood paneling is important. It would also be beneficial to prime the panels before painting them.

Is It Difficult to Make Wood Paneling Look Like Drywall? 

No, it doesn’t have to be difficult. As long as you are patient and follow the steps mentioned above, you should have no problem making your wood paneling look like drywall. Additionally, you can always hire a professional if you don’t feel confident enough to do the job yourself.

Are There Any Other Tips I Should Keep in Mind When Making Wood Paneling Look Like Drywall?

Yes. Wear safety glasses while using power tools, such as a circular saw. Additionally, be sure to clean the panels before painting them and fill any cracks or gaps with caulk before painting. Finally, use a paint primer to ensure the best results, and make sure you have enough paint for the entire project before you begin. 

Do I Need to Sand the Panels Before Painting? 

Yes, you should sand the panels before painting. This will help to smooth out any rough edges and create a better base for the paint. Make sure to use fine-grit sandpaper for this step.

Sand the Panels Before Painting


The above steps about how to make wood paneling look like drywall is an easy and cost-effective home improvement project that can dramatically change the look and feel of your space. 

While it’s not always necessary to get rid of wood paneling in a home, you may want to think twice about painting or staining the walls if you prefer one seamless color throughout the space. Using joint compound and sandpaper are useful steps to ensure you get a flat and even finish on the wall.

Finishing with primer, paint, and desired accents will take the transformation even further. With a moderate commitment, you can turn dated wood paneling into modern-looking walls at a fraction of the cost. Feel free to seek help if needed, as there are numerous resources online where professionals can offer advice on efficiently tackling this project.

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian has been interested in woodworking since he was a child. His father had a woodworking shop, and Adrian would help him out and learn from him. He gained basic carpentry knowledge as well as an understanding of how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others. So he started this blog to spread his passion and knowledge to those interested in DIY wood-working projects. He knows that with a little guidance and practice, anyone can create beautiful pieces of furniture or décor from scratch.

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