The Stars Of Unsellable Houses Prove One Controversial Design Choice Can Elevate Your Home

Wood paneling can be a beautiful addition to add texture, visual interest, and a rustic vibe to a large variety of spaces. While its popularity has waxed and waned in interior design trends over the years, you may just find yourself with a home that boasts wood veneer paneling, particularly in spaces like rec rooms, basements, closed-in porches, and home additions. Early 20th-century homes often made use of real wood paneling throughout the home, while modern trends like shiplap are proliferating in cottage and modern farmhouse-style homes. While some finishes and varieties of paneling can look dated, Lyndsay Lamb of HGTV's "Unsellable Houses" may have the perfect solution for dealing with existing paneling in a stylish way — paint it!

Lamb recently showed off a charming cottage remodel on the series in which some drab and dated wood paneling was painted a crisp white. Not only did the paint job open up and brighten the space, but it also made what was once an eyesore into a beautiful architectural feature.

When to paint your paneling

As Lyndsay Lamb explained, opinions are often split on painting over wood paneling, with many experts weighing on when it is best to add a coat of paint or whether it should be left as is. Many older homes boast beautiful and intricate genuine wood trim and paneling that seem a shame to cover with paint. In these cases, a simple refinishing and restoration might be a better idea for these valuable architectural details. 

Wood veneer, popular in the mid-to-late 20th century, however, is actually the perfect kind of paneling to paint particularly since removing it can often be difficult and cost-prohibitive. Judging whether to paint paneling is a balance of assessing current design needs and architectural history. The older the paneling, the more challenging it may be to add paint due to warping, cracking, and swelling in the joints which can mess up even the most careful paint job. It's also something that can't be easily undone once it's done.

How to paint your paneling

If you plan to paint any wood paneling in your home, experts advise that there are some very necessary steps on how to approach the project, including preparing the wall paneling by thoroughly cleaning and sanding beforehand, which will allow the paint to adhere in the most even way. You will also want to fill holes, gaps, and cracks with wood putty before applying primer, running calk along the space between the boards, which will make these areas much easier to paint. 

After the paneling is sanded and filled, you will want to choose the right paint and primers. The stars of "Unsellable Houses" chose to use Sherwin Williams Origami White, but you can opt for any color you choose. While some homes in the past may have used oil-based paint elsewhere in the home, many panel paint jobs are best served by a latex acrylic variety that provides the necessary durability. Satin finishes are often a favorite, proving a nice halfway point before glossy and matte that is easier to maintain and keep clean.