Wood paneling can become worn and outdated over the years. Painting the paneling is a common option for an easy update, but what if you prefer to keep the look of wood? It's possible to refinish the wood paneling with a new stain in a more attractive color. For example, you can go from the brownish-orange finish popular in the 1980s to a more natural, pale wood stain that highlights the grain without overpowering the room. The following are the basic steps necessary for the project.
Clear the Room
Wood refinishing results in a lot of sawdust. You will want to move furniture and electronics out of the room, as well as cover the carpets with a plastic drop cloth. Vents should also be closed and covered so sawdust doesn't get into your duct system. Finally, remove any switchplates or outlet covers that are installed over the paneling.
Sand the Walls
The best tool for sanding paneling is an orbital sander. Move it in one direction, with the grain of the wood, to create a smooth surface with no swirls. Begin with a rough sanding pad to remove the old finish, and then move onto a fine pad for a satiny, smooth texture. Sand only one panel at a time.
Once sanding is complete you will need to vacuum up all the sawdust in the room. A shop vacuum works well, but it will need a brush attachment so that you can also vacuum the walls. Once you are done sucking up as much sawdust as possible, wipe the walls down with a damp cloth to remove any debris that lingers. Allow the walls to dry before proceeding. Once dry, fill in any nail holes with stainable wood putty. This product is forced into the holes with a putty knife, and then the excess is scraped off so that the putty covers the holes in the wall.
Apply the Finish
Here is where the creativity happens. If you are staining the wall a new color, first apply the stain with a rag. Use a second rag to wipe off the excess. Once the stain cures, apply a clear sealer. If you want to keep the look of the natural wood, all you need is the sealer. You can even combine techniques and stain some panels and leave others natural to create a pattern.
For more help, contact a wood refinishing contractor in your area, like Painting By Jerry Wind.
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