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Can You Paint Over Knotty Pine? A Step-by-Step Guide

New home furnished with pine paneling? We can understand if that’s not the panel of your choice. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back to solve this problem.

Can you paint over knotty pine? 

Yes, painting over knotty pine is definitely an option. It can make that dull paneling look fresh and bright on a low budget. You basically need to prep, caulk the trim, and lay a primer on. Then you can proceed to paint the knotty pine and the trim.

If you’ve never tried this type of similar work before, it’s very easy. With the right guidance, you can paint within the shortest time.

So, let’s check out the detailed process!

To Paint Or Not To Paint?

Now whether to paint or not to paint the panel is a matter of your preference. Knotty pine paneling is a cheaper material that works great for creating a rustic feel. However, knotty pine walls don’t compliment all homes. 

So, if you’re looking for something a little more stylish, it’s fine to just paint over it. But there are criteria of pine you have to know before you paint it. 

Now, oily pine may not take paint well but unfinished pine absorbs many shades. It also gives the wall uneven coverage. However, with our help, some attention, and preparation you can give your space an updated appearance.

How To Paint Over A Knotty Pine? 

A little extra attention is needed if you want the paneling of the wall to look more attractive. If you’ve decided on it, now follow these steps to ensure it’s done correctly.

What You’ll Need

To paint the knotty pine, you will surely need some necessary items. So, here’s the list:

  • Wood filler
  • Putty knife
  • Stain-blocking primer
  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • Caulk
  • Caulking gun
  • Paint roller with foam roller covers
  • Paintbrush
  • Wall paint
  • Trim paint

Now that you have everything you need, let’s dive into the process!

Step 1 of 1: Clean The Paneling

When you’re getting ready to paint, it is important to wash and prep the area first. Remember to not paint over dirty paneling. Because the paint won’t adhere properly and it will look like a low-grade job. 

Paneling has grooves between the slats of wood that can collect gunk. So, you need to wipe down your walls with a wet cloth. You can use an all-purpose cleaner for a cleaner surface. 

Step 2 of 2: Prepare Knotty Pine Wall 

The next step is filling in all of the scratches and holes. If you see any gouges, fill it up with latex-based wood filler and a plastic putty knife. 

Moreover, lightly sand the panelings with 150-grit sandpaper. It will smooth out any bumps. This will give the surface a gritty finish. Hence it will help the paint to stick to the surface. In the end, to remove all the dust, wipe it down with a wet cloth.

Now that we have all the walls clean and the holes filled in, we can move on to priming.

Step 3 of 3: Caulking Around the Trim

Check for any moldings sticking out of the wall and caulk it to fill in the gaps. Sometimes, for a stronger hold, you can use a layer of caulk on your sealed grouts. Caulking the gaps and trimming them will make it look uniform. 

However, make sure you’re using a paintable caulk. Then using that, apply it with a caulk gun and allow it to dry. After that, you’ll see that your trim has a  smoother, more uniform finish. Moreover, this will also give a more professional finish. 

Step 4 of 4:Lay Primer Over The Knotty Pine

Usually, wood panels need at least one coat of primer before you start the painting process. This is to help seal the pores, ensuring even coverage and long wear. 

Now, if you don’t apply primer first, stubborn stains on pine knots will start showing. Hence your efforts will go in vain. This step is crucial for knotty pine paneling.

There are a variety of primers available. So, you have to choose the best primer for your wood among them. 

Now, you can use latex but It’s water-based. So, with knotty pine, it doesn’t work well. But using an oil-based primer will work perfectly on a polyurethane finish. 

Apply a thin layer of primer on the panel. Let the coat dry overnight. Then fill up the paint pot with the topcoat and spray two coats of the topcoat of paint. Let it dry between coats for about a day.

Step 5: Paint The Knotty Pine 

Knotty pine is a little tricky to paint because of the groove nature. For painting panels, you can use a roller. But to get in between the grooves as well, you’ll need a smaller, tapered brush. To complete this process you’ll have to invest time and patience, but it pays off well. 

A paint sprayer can also give you an even coat. Also, this will cover the grooves at the same time. Moreover, a paint sprayer guarantees a smoother finish compared to a paintbrush.

Now, to all paneling surfaces, you have to apply a thin coat of paint. You need to let the first coat dry for a day and then apply a second coat. Now, your wall will look finished after the primer and first coat. But to ensure the best coverage, you should apply a second coat. 

Step 6: Paint The Trim

Paint the trim to your desired color or you can match the color of your panel. Using a glossier finish is usually best for walls like yours. It creates a smoother surface that is easier to clean. This however comes down to your personal preference. 

You can use rollers to paint the trims as you’d use for cabinet painting. However, a smoother finish is trimmed with withered-looking paint. Hence you should get yourself a good quality one. Here is some suggestion from our side that is now available on the market:

Product 1
Product 2

These are some of the most recommended ones by painters. Hence you can choose from these without a doubt!

How to Maintain Pine Paneling

The true beauty of pine paneling is all about its enhanced color and natural texture. However, if not maintained properly, the finish of this paneling can easily get damaged. Thus, here are a few tips you can use to keep them looking smooth, clean, and stain-free.

Tip 1: Vacuum, dust regularly, and make sure you get all the gunks out of the nooks and crannies.

Tip 2: Wash the pine paneling once a year using a detergent solution and a brush.

That’s all we have regarding painting over knotty pine. 


Question: How do you refinish a knotty pine?

Answer: First of all, sand the paneling properly. Best you use an orbital hand sander. This will make your work much easier. Then comes the painting part. You can start painting it once the paneling is dry. Using a good quality wood varnish, apply it in even strokes. 

Question: How do you remove mold from knotty pine?

Answer: To remove mold, make a detergent, bleach, and water solution in the ratio 1:10:20. Add the cleaning solution to the wall using a scrub brush or thick sponge. Allow the solution to air-dry. After that, wipe the surface off with a clean towel. 

Question: What color goes well to paint over knotty pine?

Answer: When decorating with unpainted knotty pine walls, it’s an important matter to keep in mind. With a panel full of dark knots, usually, it’s orangey-brown. Green, blue and bright warm colors go nicely with orange and medium green.


We’ll be parting our ways with this. We hope that’ll help you to paint over a knotty pine. Following the steps will help you achieve your desired finish.

Until next time, see you!