What Kind of Paint and Primer Is Best for Paneling?

Paneling can be a beautiful and functional addition to any home, but the wrong paint or primer can quickly turn it into an eyesore. To ensure a flawless finish, choosing the right products for the job is essential.

Latex paint is the best choice for paneling and should be used with a stain-blocking primer. These products will provide the best adhesion and coverage for your paneling. After applying a thin coat of primer, you can apply interior latex paint in a satin finish for durability and easy cleaning. 

In this article, you will learn:

  • The 4 factors to consider when choosing paint for paneling
  • What type of paint to use
  • What finish is best
  • My top picks for the best paint and primer for paneling

The 4 Factors to Consider When Choosing Paint for Paneling

1. Material

The first factor to consider when choosing paint for paneling is the material used for the paneling itself. Paneling can be made from various materials such as MDF, solid wood, or plywood.

Each of these materials requires a different kind of paint due to their varying porosity levels. For instance, water-based paint would work best for MDF paneling, while oil-based paint is better suited for solid wood paneling.

2. Room Purpose

Another factor to consider when choosing paint for paneling is the room’s purpose. If the room is a high-traffic area, such as a kitchen or hallway, you may choose a more durable paint that can withstand wear and tear.

If the room is a low-traffic area, such as a bedroom or guest room, you may get away with a more delicate finish, such as eggshell or matte.

3. Durability

Another factor to keep in mind is the durability of the paint. If the paneling is in a high-traffic area, you will want to choose a paint that can withstand wear and tear.

An oil-based paint, for instance, can be more durable and long-lasting than water-based paint. Be sure to read the label carefully to ensure you’re purchasing a paint appropriate for your needs.

4. Sheen/Finish

Finally, the sheen or finish of the paint should be considered. The paint finish is what determines the texture of the painted paneling. Matte or flat finishes can give a softer texture, while gloss or satin paint can help emphasize the paneling’s grooves and ridges.

What Type of Paint Is Best?

Latex Paint

Latex paint is a water-based paint made of pigments, binders, and water-based liquids. It is a popular choice for interior projects due to its durability and non-toxic properties.


  • Durable
  • Non-toxic
  • Easily washed off surfaces
  • Better “wet adhesion”


  • Not as durable for outdoor use
  • Filler may show through the paint in some cases

Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is a fast-drying paint made of pigment suspended in acrylic polymer emulsion and plasticizers, silicone oils, defoamers, or stabilizers. It is a water-based paint, and it is also non-toxic.


  • Fade-resistant colors
  • Water soluble
  • Good stability
  • Non-toxic
  • Fast drying time
  • Professional quality at an affordable price


  • Not as durable as oil paints
  • Can be difficult to blend colors

What Paint Finish Is Best?

Out of the various options available, a satin finish is the best option for paneling. A satin finish is a paint finish that falls between matte and semi-gloss.

It has a subtle sheen that adds a little shine to your walls without being too shiny. This finish is perfect for paneling as it has a smooth texture that allows easy cleanup of any marks, dirt, or stains.

Additionally, it provides a slight sheen that enhances the beauty of the wood grain in the panels. Unlike a matte finish, a satin finish is more durable and can resist scratches and scuff marks, making it a perfect choice for high-traffic areas such as living rooms and hallways. It is also easy to maintain as it can be cleaned with soap and water.

Another great feature of a satin finish is that it compliments most styles and colors. It works well with traditional and modern styles and can be paired with almost any color of paneling.

The Best Paint and Primer for Paneling

Best Paint

Sherwin-Williams SuperPaint Interior Acrylic Latex is the go-to choice for painting paneling. Its unique paint-and-primer-in-one formula ensures fast and easy application, saving you valuable time and effort. Its exceptional hide and durability make it an ideal choice for high-traffic areas. 

The rich and beautiful appearance of Sherwin Williams SuperPaint adds life to your walls, giving your space a fresh look. With its lasting finish, you can enjoy beautifully painted paneling for years. 

In addition, this excellent paint has great scrubbability, which makes it perfect for areas that require frequent cleaning. It is also available in flat, satin, velvet, and semi-gloss sheens, offering you a range of options to perfectly match your desired aesthetic.

Best Primer

Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Water-Based Primer is the perfect solution for anyone looking to paint paneling. With its unique formulation, this primer prevents topcoat paints from flaking, scraping, or scratching away easily by providing better adhesion to surfaces.

This means that your newly painted paneling will look fresh and new for longer without constant touch-ups.

This water-based primer is specifically designed to seal or bond to difficult-to-paint surfaces, allowing regular paint to be used on otherwise impossible surfaces.

It can also cover and eliminate surface problems like water damage, odors, etc. This means you can paint directly over any existing imperfections, saving time and money on costly repairs.

In addition, Zinsser 1-2-3 creates a smooth, uniform coating that ensures top coat paint goes on easily and evenly. It also covers up bright or dark colors to help paint require fewer coats to achieve its true color. This saves time and money on additional coats of paint while still achieving the desired look.

This primer dries to the touch in 35 minutes, is ready to topcoat in 1 hour, and covers up to 112 sq. ft. per quart (10m² per liter), making it a fast and efficient option for any project.

Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Water-Based Primer has excellent stain-blocking resistance and can be used with any oil or latex topcoat. Its one-coat hide saves time and money by improving hide and coverage of topcoats. This makes it the recommended primer for anyone looking to paint paneling and any other tricky surfaces.

Joshua Milton

Joshua Milton is a passionate DIY and home improvement enthusiast. With his expertise in various projects, he provides practical tips, step-by-step guides, and creative ideas for transforming your living space.

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