If you own or if you purchase an older home, it may be necessary to redo walls that are covered in paneling or wallpaper. This decor can easily date a home and cause it to lose value. However, the surface under the paneling or wallpaper -- or the paneling or wallpaper itself, if you plan to paint over it -- often is not smooth. Here are some tips on how to paint uneven walls, paneling and wallpaper.
Painting walls that are not smooth
Walls that have been plastered often have chips, cracks or holes in them. Fix these with wall putty (spackle) before you consider painting them.
After applying a primer on the walls, you have two choices: you can use either textured paint that has a grainy appearance (usually created by adding special sand to the paint) and hides the imperfections in the wall, or you can sponge-paint the walls.
Textured paint can be rolled onto the walls the same way as regular paint. You just need be make sure the texture is fairly uniform as you apply it.
To sponge paint, you will need a light and dark tone of the same color. Semi-gloss latex paint works best. Paint the walls with the dark shade of paint. After that coat is dry, dip a natural sea sponge lightly into the paler paint and touch it to the wall, giving it a slight turn. Do this sporadically across the wall, however close or far apart you like. Some overlap is usually preferred. From time to time, stand back and check the walls for a consistent coverage.
Painting paneled walls
Old paneled walls have a tendency to make a room look dark and dreary. To paint them, apply a primer. Once that is dry, roll them with a light-colored regular or textured paint. Or you may choose to fill in the grooves with wall putty to make them smooth before you paint, but that's a lot of work and -- despite your best efforts -- may not yield a smooth enough texture to hide the paneling.
Another way to paint paneling leaves a beautiful finish. Choose the color you'd like for the walls. Then paint the walls white. After that coat is dry, lightly paint one board at a time your preferred color, and immediately wipe off the colored paint with a cloth. Most of it will come off, but some will stay within the lines of the paneling. When you are totally finished, take a very small paintbrush and paint the lines between the boards with the same solid color. This will leave the room looking very attractive.
Painting walls with wallpaper
If the wallpaper on your walls is in good shape and is stuck tightly to the walls, you may be able to get away with painting over it. Use a primer to help seal it in place. Paint over it with textured or smooth paint, depending on preference. A textured paint is more likely to help hide the seams.
If the wallpaper is coming lose or is torn, it's best to rent a steamer and remove it. Scrape off the wall paper with a wide spatula. Once the paper is all off, you will need to remove the remaining glue.
Lightly sand the walls with medium-grain sandpaper. Sweep the dust from the walls and wipe them down with a damp cloth. After the walls are dry, paint them with a primer, followed by the color of your choice. This will give your walls a nice, smooth, pretty finish.