Can You Wallpaper Over Wood Paneling?

During the mid-twentieth century, wood paneling dominated the decor in many homes, creating a cozy atmosphere that families loved. Those days are long gone, but the paneling remains, much to the current homeowners’ dismay. For those who do not want the hassle of removing the panels, putting wallpaper over the wood is a simple solution.
Wood panel texture

Wood Texture Honey Maple by Texture X


Can you put wallpaper on wood paneling? Yes, and it’s easier than you think. 

However, before you hang any wallpaper, some simple prep is required. ROMAN suggests that you follow these five steps to ensure the successful application of wallpaper over paneling or wallpaper over beadboard. 

To ensure the wallpaper’s long-term adhesion to the paneling, you must properly prepare and prime the wood surface first. 

1. Preparing the Wood Surface for Wallpaper

Tools: Pliers, screwdriver, filling compound, putty knife, pry bar, and a soft cloth

Wallpaper adhesion requires a smooth-clean and gloss-free surface. Preparing the surface of the paneling requires the following: 

  • Remove nails and other objects from the panel with a pair of pliers, being careful to limit any damage. 
  • Fill cracks and holes in the panels with a filling compound, letting the compound dry completely. 
  • Remove the caulk overflow by running a putty knife along the grooves.
  • Once the walls are completely dry, wipe them down, removing any mold, dirt, or dust. 
  • Remove edge trim with a pry bar. 
  • Using a screwdriver, remove outlet covers. 

2. Priming (Sizing) the Wood Panels

Tools: ROMAN PRO-935 R-35 Adhesion Promoting Wallpaper Primer, paint roller, and paint tray.

It can be difficult to adhere wallpaper to non-porous sealed surfaces like glass, tile, and wood paneling. ROMAN’s PRO-935 R-35 primer dries clear with a heavy residual tack, providing the proper ‘tooth’ needed to install wallpaper over sealed surfaces.

  • Use a roller to apply an even coat of primer, starting from the top and moving downward, with long, smooth strokes. 
  • For best results, allow PRO-935 to dry overnight before hanging wallpaper.

The Best Primer for Wood Paneling

ROMAN makes an assortment of wallpaper primers formulated for a variety of different surfaces, including paneling. Choosing the correct primer for your particular project is a key step in ensuring a quality installation.

PRO-935 R-35 Adhesion Promoting Wallpaper Primer

PRO-935 R-35 Clear Acrylic wallcovering primer significantly promotes adhesion of wallpaper to wood paneling. PRO-935 dries clear with a heavy residual tack, so wallpaper can stick to the hard-to-adhere to surface. PRO-935 is low odor, won’t spatter during application, and cleans up easily with soap and water. The formula is zero VOC (per EPA method 24) and contains biocides to resist the growth of mold and mildew in-can and on the primer film. 

3. Cutting Wallpaper to Cover Wood Paneling

Tools: Measuring tape or folding rule, scissors 

After properly preparing the wood paneling, you can start wallpapering. 

First, re-measure the wall to ensure the accuracy of your initial measurements.

  • To determine the amount of wallpaper needed for your project, start by measuring the length of the wall surface you plan to wallpaper. Multiply the total length by the height of the walls.
    • Example: 20 linear feet of walls x 8 foot ceilings = 160 square feet.
  • With the square footage estimated, you can then calculate the total number of wallpaper rolls needed. Start by checking your wallpaper for a pattern-repeat number. Wallpaper patterns with larger repeats will yield less usable material. Once you have identified the pattern repeat, divide it by the total usable square footage per roll of wallpaper:
    • No Repeat – 25 Sq. Ft of Usable Wallpaper
    • Repeat Less than 12-inches = 22 Sq. Ft. of Usable Wallpaper
    • Repeat Greater than 12-inches = 18 Sq. Ft. of Usable Wallpaper
    • Example 10-inch Repeat:
      • 160 sq. ft./22 sq ft. = 7.2 rolls (round up to 8 single rolls/4 double rolls)
  • To calculate the length of each strip, measure the height of the wall and add 4-inches to the total. This allows for 2-inches of excess at the ceiling and floor for trimming. When cutting your wallpaper, be sure to account for the pattern repeat.
    • Tip: For wallpaper with a half-drop pattern match, you can minimize waste by cutting paper from 2 alternating even and odd rolls. For more information, watch our video on How to Prepare Wallpaper for Installation.

4. Attaching Wallpaper Over Paneling

Tools and Materials: PRO-880 Ultra Clear Strippable Wallpaper Paste, roller or brush, plastic sheet, ROMAN wallpaper smoothing tool, wide putty knife, and utility knife.

Does wallpaper paste stick to wood paneling? Yes – with proper prep and priming. When selecting wallpaper for your project, you can choose from several varieties including traditional unpasted wallpaper and pre-pasted wallpaper.

Traditional Unpasted Wallpaper

Unpasted wallpaper is a long-lasting wallpaper for paneling. Unpasted wallpaper requires an application of paste to either the wallpaper’s back or to the wall itself, prior to hanging. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s hanging instructions for notes on the correct adhesive and installation method for your wallpaper.

Pre-pasted Wallpaper 

Can you wallpaper over wood paneling with pre-pasted wallpaper? Yes, again, so long as the wall is prepared properly before hanging. 

Installing pre-pasted wallpaper on wood panels involves activating the adhesive on the wallpaper’s back, booking the paper, then hanging it on the wall. From here, follow the same steps as the unpasted wallpaper application. 

Liner Paper

Before installing your wallpaper, consider hanging a base layer of liner paper. Typically installed horizontally, a base layer of liner paper can help disguise any ridges or bumps in the wall surface and acts as an excellent substrate for new wallpaper.

5. Selecting the Best Wallpaper Paste for Wood Panels

A high-quality wallpaper paste helps ensure a smooth, professional look on wood paneling. Fortunately, ROMAN makes an ideal wallpaper paste for applying wallpaper over most types of paneling. 

ROMAN Universal Wallpaper Adhesive 

PRO-543 Universal Wallpaper Adhesive is ideal for installing lightweight to medium weight wallpapers over wood panels. PRO-543 provides better adhesion on sealed surfaces like wood paneling, applies easily with a paint roller or brush, and allows for long working times and easy adjustments. It also cleans up quickly with water.

Steps for Applying Adhesive to Traditional Unpasted Wallpaper

Preparing the unpasted wallpaper for paste-the-paper installation over wood:

  • Lay one piece of cut wallpaper, pattern side down, on a clean-plastic covered surface. 
  • With a paint roller or brush, apply the paste to the top half of the paper. Fold the top of the paper on itself, print side up. 
  • Apply the paste to the lower half of the paper, then fold it towards the middle. 
  • Book the paste according to the manufacturer’s directions (about 3 – 5 minutes)

Hanging unpasted wallpaper over wood:

  • Unfold the top half of the paper and place it on the wall, with the top overlapping onto the ceiling by 2 – 3 inches.
  • Use your hands to smooth the paper gently. To further smooth out the air bubbles and creases in hard-to-reach corners, use the ROMAN wallpaper smoothing tool.
  • Place a wide putty knife firmly against the corner between the ceiling and wall. 
  • Using the utility knife, cut along the edge of the putty knife to remove the excess paper. Repeat along the baseboard.
  • Use a damp PIRANHA™ remover sponge or wet rag to wipe excess paste from the baseboards and walls. 
  • Cut out squares around the light switches and outlets. 


With proper prep and priming, and quality wallpaper paste and tools, you can install wallpaper over wood paneling. Fortunately, ROMAN Products has the necessary primers, adhesives, and tools to prepare and apply wallpaper to wood surfaces. The combination of PRO-935 R-35 clear acrylic primer and PRO-543 Universal Wallpaper Adhesive allows for excellent adhesion to wood panels. ROMAN wallcovering tools also help professionals and DIY’ers alike simplify the process of installing wallpaper on wood. 

ROMAN Customer Service is here to help you with any questions you may have about your project. Contact us today for more information.