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Can You Whitewash Dark Paneling? [ And How To]

Decorating and making your home an interesting work of art is fun but time-consuming. Refreshing or revamping your home decor can be easy when done right. If you wish to whitewash dark panels, can you do it? We've looked into this question and gotten answers from architects and designers.

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You can whitewash dark paneling to brighten or change your interior decor. It's one of the simplest and easiest ways to do an upgrade.

To do so, simply:

  1. Sand the existing coating from the paneling
  2. Clean off any remaining dust
  3. Apply a coat of primer
  4. Apply two coats of paint

Does it sound interesting? Well, read on as we explain in more detail how you can whitewash the dark panels in your home to create a whole new look. We'll also take a look at sealing your panels, other paint options, and mistakes to avoid. Read on to learn more!

Empty black wooden wall panel with vase and plant, Can You Whitewash Dark Paneling? [ And How To]

How To Whitewash Dark Panels

You can decorate your home with dark paneling instead of wallpaper. The panels can be on the whole surface of the wall or just a part of it. If you are tired of the paneling and don't wish to remove it, you can whitewash it.

Things that you'll need for the job.

  • Paintbrush
  • White paint
  • Sealer
  • Fine grit sandpaper

Check out his Fine Grit Sandpaper on Amazon.

  • Damp cloth
  • Spray bottle
  • Stir stick
  • Bucket

To create this fresh look, follow these simple steps. 

  1. Start by sanding down the panel to remove any varnish or polish on the paneling.
  2. Wipe the surface with a wet cloth to get the dust off completely. Pay attention to the joints and cracks in the paneling.
  3. Paint the walls with a quality primer. Allow the primer to completely dry. At this point, you could sand the panel surface again for a smoother look.
  4. Apply two coats of paint. Allow the paint to dry in between coats. You can wipe off the excess whitewash in between the coats.

Different wood paneling will look different after the final coat. Here is a video with quick, easy steps to whitewash the paneling.

What Paint Can You Use To Whitewash Wood?

You can create the whitewash or purchase it ready-made. The wash in the whitewash refers to the ratio of water in the paint. 

To create the whitewash, use water-based paint. Add one-third water to two-thirds water. It will result in a thin coating that will give a translucent look to your walls. A ratio of one to one will give a thicker coat.

Check out this Water-based White Paint on Amazon.

However, you can simply purchase whitewash paint of the necessary consistency to avoid the hustle of mixing.

Have a look at this Whitewash Wood Stain on Amazon.

Can You Whitewash Natural Wood?

Yes, you can. When whitewashing different types of wood, you can use different techniques. The paint consistency will give different looks.

In some cases, you can use grout to create a final whitewash look! Whitewashing is a relatively easy DIY project. Take your time to get the best results.

Here is a video demonstrating several whitewashing techniques on different types of wood.

Are Primers Colorless?

Technically all primers are colorless to enable you to use the paint color you desire in your interior. A primer helps the paint to stick evenly onto the wooden panel. Lately, most paints have primer incorporated, which allows you to skip the priming process.

Check out this Primer on Amazon.

Can You Seal Whitewashed Panels?

Yes, you can. Simply use a polyurethane finish to seal the whitewashed wood panel. You could use a water-based or oil-based polyurethane finish.

For even better results, mix the two to get a semi-matte effect. Properly apply the finish with a brush or spray gun. 

Have a look at this Polyurethane Finish on Amazon.

Are Wood Panels Out Of Style?

The answer is both yes and no. There are mixed feelings about wooden panels. Most old homes have outdated, sometimes even dilapidated wood panels. 

Modern living room in house with contemporary interior design

However, some modern homeowners still want wood panels in their homes. Designers have invented more elegant ways to incorporate wood panels into the interior.

Wood Panel Styles

Interior with sofa

There are some interesting wood panel designs to use and brighten your decor. The ideas include using: 

  • Geometrical shapes in two or three-dimensional.
  • Bold or light colors.
  • Lots of windows for natural lighting.
  • Paneling to create rustic chic.
  • Wood panels in segments.

How To Make A Dark Panel Room Fresh?

Whitewashing might not be an option for some homeowners. That means you will have to work around the dark wood paneling and brighten the room. 

Brightening a dark panel wood room might be a daunting task. To make it possible, here are a few suggestions that can be fined tuned to one's taste.

Adding Texture 

Add throw pillows, interesting lamps, and plaids. Fur, wool, or leather make the wood-paneled room look diverse. Bold carpets will also bring the room together. Use rugs in large rooms for functionality as well.

Interesting Works Of Art

Wood panels might look bland if they don't have anything to compliment them or divert attention from them. Bohemian or exotic art pieces can make the room more interesting. The artwork should be placed strategically to create different focal points.

Bold Furniture Colors

Whether the room has a bed or a sofa, the main piece of furniture should be bold in color. However, it shouldn't look out of place with the wood panel. Pick a bold color that aligns with the wood panel. 

Painting vs Whitewashing Wood Panels

You can paint wood panels if you don't want them whitewashed. Introduce another color into the living space by using paints

Classic wall of dark wood panels

The ideal primer to use is a latex-based one. You could also use a color-blocking primer on very dark wood paneling. Prepare the wood panel before putting any primer or paint on it.

Apply thin coats of the desired paint. Designers recommend two or three coats of paint and remember to allow each coat to dry for at least 24 hours.

Here is a short tutorial to help you transform a wood panel surface.

Paint Colors That Go With Wood Paneling

White minimalist interior with kitchen, sofa, wood floor, wall panels

Wood paneling can be dark or light. Whether you are looking for a bold contrast or a subtle look, you will need the perfect paint colors to blend seamlessly. 

Some colors can recreate a traditional cozy feel, while others will have a fresh modern feel. Use a color palette to make the right choice without having to paint all over the place. 

Designers have suggestions that might help you pick a color to your taste.

  • Beige- works with a wide palette.
  • Ivory or Off-white- ideal in kitchens with contrasting cabinets.
  • Yellow- It pairs with both dark and light kinds of wood.
  • Blue- Royal hues go well with classic mahogany and cherry panels.
  • Gray- Traditional and modern looks encompass gray perfectly.
  • Greens- Nature can be replicated in the interior with dark and light wood panels.

Whitewash Effect On Wood Panels With Contact Paper

Alternatively, use contact paper instead of battling it out with a paintbrush. You can use contact paper if you don't have time, patience, or energy to start a DIY painting project.

You can use whitewashed contact paper to create the necessary effect. It is cost-efficient and easy to apply on wood.

However, the adhesive on contact paper could damage the wood surface permanently. Therefore, use it on wood panels that you want to be covered eternally.

Here's Whitewash Contact Paper on Amazon.

Mistakes To Avoid When Whitewashing

DIY projects might be cumbersome, and you might be tempted to cut corners. Moreover, cutting corners will not give long-term results. To avoid repeating the whitewashing process, here are a few mistakes you shouldn't make.

  1. Whitewashing is a staining method, not a painting one.
  2. Remove the old finish before applying a new one.
  3. Don't use oil-based paint to whitewash.
  4. Wiping in circles and not along the grain.
  5. Not cleaning the surface with a damp cloth after sanding the wood panel.

Other  Whitewashed Wooden Surfaces 

To create a uniform effect in the living space, you could also whitewash other wooden surfaces other than only wood panels. Other wooden surfaces you could whitewash are:

  • Dressing tables
  • Chest drawers
  • Cupboards
  • Furniture

Can You Whitewash Bricks?

Whitewashed brick wall texture

Absolutely! Strange as it might seem, you can whitewash bricks. Whitewashing bricks differs from wood. Therefore, check out the pros and cons before whitewashing bricks in the interior decor.

The Bottomline

Whitewash dark wood panels to brighten the interior of your home decor. Always use weather-based white paint for the best results. 

Prepare the surface to be whitewashed and apply a seal to ensure the results stay for a long while. Alternatively, you could use contact paper. 

If you are looking to indulge in more reading, here are some posts:

What Colors Go With Brown Paneling?

What's The Best Paint Finish For Wall Paneling?