How to Make Wood Paneling Look Like Drywall

Wood paneling makes walls look a little too boring, especially if you fail to paint them. I’ve found that you can improve the look of wood paneling and even make it look like a better wall panel. So, how do you make wood paneling look like drywall?

Fill in the gaps in the wood paneling using joint compound then sand the surface when dry to smooth out any uneven areas. Apply a paint primer and allow it to dry, then paint the walls with a color of your choice. Allow it to dry and make the wood paneling look like drywall.

The whole process of making wood paneling look like sheetrock panels is less costly compared to tearing down the wall and installing a new drywall wall.

Can you make paneling look like drywall?

You can make wood paneling look like drywall by filling in the cracks and spaces between the panels of wood then finishing up the walls with a paint of your choice to make it appear smooth and modern like drywall-finished walls.

How to make wood panels look like drywall

Whether you have prior construction industry experience or are a starting novice, you can follow easy steps and techniques to have a smooth end product just like drywall. Remember that you may not end up with the exact benefits of sheetrock. For example, drywall does not burn easily, but your wood panels may still catch fire easily.

You only need the right tools and supplies to have an easy job of turning your wall paneling into drywall. In fact, if you compare the cost of pulling down your wall panels to installing new ones, you will settle for a cost-effective and budget-friendly drywall.

 The only tricky part of making your paneling is applying the skim. However, you only need the suitable joint compound and the tools to skim coat your panels and create a masterpiece.

 The process is time-consuming because it takes a few days for you to achieve the best results. Nevertheless, the satisfaction you get when your end results are perfect is mind-blowing. 

 How to Make Wood Paneling Look like Drywall

For this project, you’ll need the right materials, including paint, primer, and joint compound (drywall mud). Also, get fine-grit sandpaper, quality paint for wood paneling, a skimmer, spackle for skimming, a paint tray, paint rollers, a dust mask, and safety glasses.

 Here’s how to make wood paneling look like drywall:

1. Move the furniture out of the way

 Start by moving the furniture from the room to create space. Or use the sheet to cover the unmovable furniture. This step is important for protecting your valuables from damage that might be caused by paint and other types of dirt that may fall on them.

If moving furniture is not a great option, cover them with large plastic sheets. The clean-up process will be much easier since you’ll just have to remove and dispose of the sheets.

2. Fill in the gaps in the wood paneling with joint compound

Wood paneling to look like sheetrock

Your wood panels may have visible cracks that need to be covered to form a uniform surface. Therefore, apply the joint compound or the spackle to cover the grooves using the putty knife.

Use the putty knife and press the spackle firmly into the cracks to have a smooth surface.

Allow the joint compound to dry properly before applying another coat in areas you might have missed. Remember, the recommended time for the spackle to dry is 24 hours

3. Sand the surface with a fine-grit sandpaper

Use the fine-grit sandpaper, and start sanding the wood panels applying minimal force and keeping in line with the wood grain. The two types of sandpaper can be 120-grit or 220 –grit. You can also use a pole sander or orbital sander.

Once the covered wood grooves have dried well, it is time to sand the panels. Sanding ensures you have a smooth surface. It also ensures the joint compound flashes with the wood panels and makes the surface perfect for primer adhesion.

 You may encounter a wood panel that sanding along the grain might not be possible. It is advisable to sand the surface more evenly, ensuring you don’t damage the wood paneling.

 Take your time and Confirm that you have done a perfect job. Next, use a damp cloth to wipe off the sanding dust from the wood panels. Then, again, allow the panels to dry correctly.

Remember, sanding is a dusty process. Therefore, you must wear your dust mask and safety glasses to protect yourself.

4. Apply a primer to the wood 

The end product of your project will depend on how well you apply primer to the wood panels. Besides, to achieve uniformity and a smooth and polished wall surface, you need to master the art of primer application.

 The purpose of priming your wood panel walls is to hide imperfections, seal tiny grooves and holes, promote paint adhesion and minimize the use of paint on the wood panels. 

Therefore, using the paint tray ensures you have a perfect primer mixture. Next, apply the primer on the wood panel walls using rollers for easy, faster, and even layers. Finally, repeat the process for you to have an adequately thinned surface.

Allow the primer to dry for at least eight hours before applying another coat to increase the wood cell fibers.

Remember, fine-sanding after primer application is recommended to achieve a perfect finish for your wood panels. Let the primer dry and settle in the wood grains as you get ready to apply the paint.

5. Paint the walls with two coats of  paint

Using your favorite paint, apply at least two coats. Apply the paint from the top of the wall working your way to the bottom and following the wood grains.

Allow the paint to dry evenly and apply the second and the last coat. Give your wall a minimum of 24 hours for it to dry well.

Experts recommend using 3/8 inch rollers to apply the paint. While on the edges of your wall, an angled brush does a perfect job. 

Other Ways to Fill Grooves in Wood Paneling

Filling grooves in wood panels is essential, and so is the method used. Apart from the joint compound or spackle, there are other ways that you can use to hide grooves in wood paneling if you want to make it look like drywall. They include the following;

Using the Wood filler compound 

A filler compound has chemical compositions and wood solvents that allow them to bind and hold wood panels together.

Using drywall mud

The drywall mud covers the wood grooves and promotes wood bonding, holding the wood together. You still need to prime and paint the drywall mud to achieve a great finish that looks like finished d

Using Siliconized Acrylic Latex

This sealing compound is formulated to help seal cracks in walls, doors, and wood panels. It’s an excellent adhesive and all-weather resistant solution highly recommended by experts.

How can you tell if drywall is behind wood paneling?

It would be hard for you to look at the wood panel and tell if there is drywall behind it. Therefore, to be sure, you need to find out using the following ways:

  • Using a drill, drive a nail screw into the wood panel and pull it out. If the screw nail comes out with the white flakes, there is a possibility of drywall behind the wood paneling. Remember to be careful not to damage the wood panels.
  • You can peel the joint compound or the molding used to cover the grooves and have a look through the grooves. That way, you will confirm if there is drywall.
  • Wood paneling is usually attached to a surface wall using nails. Therefore you can pop a few joint nails to look at what is behind the panels.

Making your wood panels look like drywall is a simple process. You only require to understand and follow the right steps. Moreover, you need not hurry the whole process. Instead, every step should follow the recommended duration to achieve the right results.

Besides, wood revival is cost-effective and budget-friendly. Therefore the choice of style and the type of material to use will depend on your personal preference when looking to turn wood paneling to look like drywall.

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