House Renovation: Week 12, Paint That Paneling, People!

We are rocking along on the house.  I’m down to the last big room to be painted and that is the den.  Yowza, at the brown wood paneling in that space.  I have never been a fan of wood paneling and vowed if I ever inherited a house that had it, it would be painted in no time flat.  That time has come and I tackled it last week.  This paneling is actually made of real wood (thin for sure), but I don’t have a problem covering it up.  Bye-bye 1970’s!

paint old paneling

In its brown glory, the befores.  I’m still debating on what to do with that ceiling.  It’s a drop ceiling, not my fave, but underneath is ugly ductwork and pipes and so I can’t just take down the ceiling.  I’m sure those tiles are original, cause they are very saggy and stained and even the vents are duct-taped in the top, which will have to go.

I’ve painted over some of the stains to make them less noticeable, but eventually I’d like to just replace them all with fresh new tiles.  That seems to be my best bet on this one, but I will probably live with them for awhile and then change them out.  I haven’t even priced them out, so I need to take one down and haul it with me to Lowes to see what they have that will fit this grid.

UPDATE:  I may have found a great solution, just need some $$ to do it.  Saw this website, Ceilume,  on another blog (Dixie Delights) that I featured in one of my Feature Fridays and they used a drop ceiling in their basement.  They have a nice selection of 2×4′ tiles which is the size I need and look at these:

paneling painting

This is one of their best sellers (and most economical) and these break it up into 12×12 squares which would pop right into my ceiling.  Love this look  and that could completely update my ceiling.  All I need is about $600 to replace with these.   This will definitely be on my list of things to do!

paint old paneling

So, back to the walls.  I know painting the paneling will lighten this space up so much and I’ve been dying to get it all primed and painted.  That door sitting on the floor will get painted black and it will replace the open door there going up the stairs.  That one has a hole in it and the door on the floor came from closing up the door going into the kitchen from the living room.  Got that change-out?

prime your panels

Once again, Zinsser cover stain primer came to the rescue (big thanks to the Rust-Oleum folks for sending me so much primer for my project).  I’m currently on gallon 6 of primer, this house needed a ton of white to cover up the ugly.   It’s an oil based primer and will work great for covering this paneling and preparing it for latex paint.  I rolled it on with a thick roller and a paintbrush for the cutting in. The thicker roller helped get into those grooves.

paint old paneling primer

It takes some muscle to move the roller around and get it all into the grooves, but for the most part that roller worked great.

primed paneling ready to paint

All primed and ready for the real paint color, which is Comfort Gray by Sherwin Williams.

finished priming time to paint

From the stairs and door looking down the room.  All primed, yay!  I’d love to add another window to this room eventually on the left wall.  A nice big double window would be nice, since this room is not below ground, it’s level with the ground and another window could easily be cut into the wall.  On my list!

two coats painted panels

After two coats of Comfort Gray, we have a room really starting to look like a room I could live in.

I love this soft blue/gray and it will look great with my existing den furniture.  I wanted this space to be light and airy too and this color should do the trick, especially after I change out the overhead light fixtures.

paneling painted now fixtures

I am not sure what I’ll put up there, but something besides what is there now. Those are UGLY!   You can see I’ve already got two coats of my Dark Brown door paint on there too.  It’s so hard to photograph carpet that is beige. This carpet is not pink-toned at all, but comes across in these pics that way. It’s a nice medium beigy tone.

paint old paneling

The door to the left of the stairs goes down to the garage.

painting paneling and doors

Other side with Comfort Gray.  Looking good!  So, this room is coming along. I still have all the white trim to paint, but I’m getting there.

If you have old-style 70’s paneling, by all means paint that stuff!  It is not precious wood at all, so talk your husband into it and you won’t be sorry.  Men sometimes have a really hard time painting wood, but this is just a wood facsimile and deserves to be painted.  Go for it!

If you have REAL wood paneling, that’s a different story, so you’ll have to duke it out with the man at your house.  You know what I’m enjoying so much on this renovation?  I don’t have to argue with a man over what I want to do.  Yeah, that’s awesome! 🙂

painting doors

Moving upstairs to the front door, I got out my black paint and got one coat on the inside of the front door.  It’s already black on the outside and now will stand out from the inside too.

paint the front door

There is not a really easy way to paint a metal door, but I used the foam roller on the flat parts and brush in the grooves. Hopefully, the 2nd coat will smooth things out.  I did tape up the doorknobs and inside the glass with FrogTape.

painting metal door tips

And it’s looking better already.  We still have to rip out the old wood down there and repair plywood that is rotted inside the door.  The reason I haven’t painted the trim yet is because it’s all wonky and weird and has to be worked on.  Whoever put the door in didn’t trim it out right and we will have to try to fix things with some additional molding, so I will get to that eventually and get it fixed and painted.  I did get the railing painted and installed again with my newly sprayed hardware on the right.

painting outside panels

Outside, we got new gutters installed.  That was huge too, since the house had no gutters at all.  We found out from the neighbors that about 2 years ago, the new concrete siding was put on this house, as well as a new roof.  When that was done, apparently, they didn’t replace the gutters and it has been gutter-less all this time.  Not anymore!  Yay for the new siding and roof, that is a biggy!

new roof

My dad worked on getting some shingles up on the little roof over the backdoor, so that is coming along too.  It will be awhile before he finishes trimming it out completely and I’ll wait a bit before painting it all white, but one day it will really be cute.

back door roof

He added some trim to the ends too and has a little more trimming out to do and then it will be ready to paint.  He’s going to put some metal up in the ceiling part and I will paint it out.  Pretty impressive, isn’t it, this little roof.  How many almost 85 year old men can still do this?  That Daddy o’mine is amazing!

kitchen gutting

Back in the kitchen, it is finally time to tear out the last wall of base cabinets that houses the sink.  We left it as long as we could and now it’s time to rip it out.

kitchen gutting sink

He got off the old faux butcher block backsplash that was oh, so ugly.  Behind that was more filth!  This was such a dirty kitchen, it was unbelievable.  But tearing everything down to the bare walls at least lets me get the walls primed and clean again.

kitchen remodel

Dad worked hard on getting those nails out that held the cabinets in place and finally we got them all out and in the backyard.

cabinet repair

The old cabinets were so rickety and unstable and I’m so happy I didn’t try to keep them.

kitchen gut job

Because look what was behind just this row of cabinets.  YUCK with a capital Y! More roach crap to get out of there.

kitchen gut job before

Disgusting, I know!

kitchen gut seal prime walls

So, I brought my primer out and got busy priming all those walls and at least covering up and sealing the filth.

kitchen painting

And now at least it looks better and feels better.

kitchen gut painting

Clean and white, I will take that.  Now we have a blank canvas for those new kitchen cabinets from Ikea.  Can’t wait to start on that, but first we’ve got hardwood floors to install.  That’s going to be a big job and we are tackling that ourselves.  Bought an angled floor nailer from Floor and Décor and we are ready to start nailing now.  It might take us weeks, but we will get ‘er done eventually.

That’s it for this week.  Hardwoods arrived on Tuesday and I’ll tell you all about those later.

Thanks as always for stopping by and following along on this house renovation journey!  I appreciate all of you out there reading along.


- Rhoda


  1. Cindy Crews says

    Hi Rhoda-
    I’ve been on vacation and just now I am catching up with your renovation progress. The comfort gray looks excellent! Have you considered leaving the door to that room off? I love all your black doors, but I wonder if that room feels a bit closed in due to only having the one window….leaving the door leading to the stairs off could give it a more open feel. Just a thought….
    ~Cindy in Woodstock :o)

  2. Rhoda, I love reading updates about your new house. I have been following your blog for some time now and am so glad things are looking up for you. God is blessing you and all of us who get to read about your journey. And I agree, your daddy is amazing! He really loves his little girl that’s for sure. Can’t wait to read more updates about your house!

  3. Good for you doing so much of it yourself! Now that’s sweat equity!

  4. Marilyn the nurse says

    Rhoda, you have given me the nerve to have the paneling in my basement room painted. Our painter friend told me it could be done but seeing it done by you gives me courage to have it done. How did it come out when finished? Were you happy with it? Also why did you chose to use Zinsserr cover stain primer over a regular primer.
    Thank you.

    • HI, Marilyn, yes by all means paint it! You will love how it turns out. The pics above are after 1 coat of primer & 2 coats of paint & I love how it turned out. You can judge for yourself! I used the Zinsser primer over regular primer because it is oil-based and really sticks to wood, getting it ready for latex paint. I painted all my wood trim with it first before I painted my white trim paint. Gives it tooth to stick well.

  5. Hi, Rhoda. I just recently found your blog and I love what you are doing with your house renovation. I feel you have a real sense of color and ideas and I wondered if you ever take on “clients” via online consultation. I actually was directed to your site after reading “Four Generations One House” and seeing how you helped Jessica redo her family room. I am just at a total loss as to what colors to paint my family room, kitchen, etc. and what to use in the way of furniture and decor. I’ve had a decorator here once and I was not happy with her choices. I live in a small town and there really isn’t anyone to ask. My husband will not help at all and he doesn’t want me to waste $ on trying to find another decorator. When they passed out the decorating genes, they left me out! If I send you pictures of my rooms could you help? Can I pay you for your services? Thanks for considering and hope to hear from you.

    • I just had my living/dining rooms done in Conservative Grey (not sure who makes it) and it turned out nothing short of fabulous. I’m planning on continuing with that color up the stairs and possibly into my bedroom. My trim and crown molding is white and it all looks great. Just a suggestion, find the color and I think you’ll be pleased with it. I was always a beige and brown person and never wanted to change but the grey is just lovely and it brightens the rooms so much.

  6. Rhoda,

    Your home is looking beautiful. I am so enjoying following along on your progress. My heart melts when I read about your dad helping you. My dad was able to do the same for my husband and I when we purchased our first home back in 97. 🙂

    One thing I can’t seem to find though is the paint color you used on your inside doors. I am looking to paint my own a dark color and wanted to see what you color would look like in my home.

  7. Oh, the shame! The guilt! I am guilty of being afraid to paint my 70’s paneling. Fond memories of college in the 70’s should not be an excuse! Thanks to your post, I’M DOING IT! I have one question: are you sure it’s okay to paint latex over the oil-based primer? I thought that was a no-no due to possibility of paint not sticking or peeling. Please help me make good on this! Thanks, Joy

  8. My paneling has plastic strips that hold the paneling pieces together. Are they to be removed when priming and painting?

    • Hi, Renae, I wouldn’t think you would want to remove those if they hold the pieces together. Can you paint right over it? I think that would be the best. If you prime and paint the plastic strips, they should be fine.

  9. Ross Cameron says

    I really like the way woodpanels painted look. They are more interesting than painted sheetrock. I think it’s a great way to repurpose that old woodpaneling and a much better alternative than removing and replacing with sheetrock.

  10. We went through a house renovation too. Wish I took pictures of the demo process, but I have the before/after shots. Lots of work but well worth it!!

  11. Id like to cover my paneling but still see the wood grain – like pickling – do you have any suggestions for that or am I better off just painting over? I live in a log home and there’s a LOT of wood!!!!

  12. When painting my paneling (real pecan wood), found it best to prime in the black lines first. Had to do two coats.
    Then primed the wall, two coats. Then painted, two coats. total I painted six times. It was so much work, however; when it became late fall into winter the lighter color walls helped with the winter blues. It’s so much better now. Glad I took the time to make a change.

  13. Seeing your dad helped you with the house reminded me when my dad helped me with my remodeling. That’s just awesome.

  14. Pam Boatright says

    I learned so much from your site.
    What are you putting on floors laminate or engineered wood?
    Thank you

    • HI, Pam, this post was done several years ago and I’ve already completed the flooring. I used engineered hardwoods throughout my house and recently installed Shaw Floors luxury vinyl tiles in this space that you see here. You can look through my Before and After house pics under Home tour for more info.

  15. Looking ?! Lots of work. One thing turns into another on a rehab. I love Pinterest and your posts. We are getting ready to take on an old 70’s farmhouse with a bungalow roof. Will have lots of decisions to make. We have paneling too in one big wall across the living area and kitchen. I am thinking of shiplap in This area. 50 year old sheetrock is usually getting old and tired.

  16. I love everything I’ve seen so far on your blog! So inspiring for my current DIY in my new home. I have a question in regards to the painting of your panels (I know this was an old post). Did you sand the wood panels before priming them? I’ve been told i should sand mine down, then prime, then paint. Thank you so much in advance!

    • HI, Nataly, thank you for stopping by! No, I did not sand that paneling before painting. I don’t see a need for that with the primer, so I’d say just prime and paint. I didn’t have any problem at all with just priming mine. Good luck!

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