How to Paint the Paneling in a Mobile Home

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Things You'll Need

  • Bucket

  • Rags

  • Detergent

  • Masking tape

  • Drop cloths

  • Brush

  • Roller and roller tray or bucket

  • Bonding primer

  • Spackle

  • Caulking

  • Paint


Shinier paints are more washable, but will show surface imperfections. Consider one of the new washable matte paints. They have a very low-luster finish but are extremely durable. Use a lambs wool roller if the paneling has grooves. Lambs wool rollers cost a little but more but leave a very smooth finish and will fill in the grooves, saving you from brushing them.


Open windows and use a fan when using oil- or shellac-based primer. The fumes can be very strong, but dissipate quickly with adequate ventilation.

Most mobile homes don't have heavy sheetrock walls; instead they have paneling nailed directly to the wall studs. Mobile home paneling is typically a composite wood product or vinyl panels and laminated to simulate wood grain or wallpaper. Over time, paneling can get scratched and dingy. Painting it can make a dramatic difference to the interior of your home. As long as you prepare and prime the walls properly, they'll be durable and washable.

Step 1

Scrub the paneling clean to remove dirt, wax and surface oil. Use grease-cutting detergent, especially if you think the paneling has been buffed with furniture oil. Rinse it and allow it to dry.

Step 2

Sand the paneling lightly to scuff and roughen the surface. Skip this step if it's laminated with fabric. Wipe off the dust.


Step 3

Repair loose paneling. The paneling seams in mobile homes are usually covered by thin strips of wood or vinyl, attached with nails. Replace any that are broken--home improvement stores should carry replacement strips--and hammer down loose nails.

Step 4

Prepare the area. Move furniture away from the wall. Use blue painter's tape to tape ceilings and adjacent surfaces and put drop cloths down to protect the floor.

Step 5

Prime the paneling with oil- or water-based bonding primer. If the walls were very shiny and smooth, use a fast-drying oil- or shellac-based primer for the best adhesion.


Step 6

Caulk gaps between the paneling and trim. If the adjacent trim isn't going to be painted, use paintable clear silicone caulking. When it dries, it will be invisible on the non-painted surfaces. Use spackle to fill dents or nail holes.

Step 7

Paint the paneling with two coats of water-based (latex) paint. Cut in first with a brush, then roll the walls. Doing the brush-work after rolling tends to leave visible brush marks.

Step 8

Wait about eight hours for the paint to dry before removing the masking tape and moving the furniture back into place. Paint takes about 30 days to completely cure, so avoid washing or wiping the walls for a month.



Stevie Donald

Stevie Donald has been an online writer since 2004, producing articles for numerous websites and magazines. Her writing chops include three books on dog care and training, one of which won a prestigious national award in 2003. Donald has also been a painting contractor since 1979, painting interiors and exteriors.