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How to Turn Old Paneling into Beautiful Faux "Old World" Stucco: Do It Yourself

Updated on April 9, 2011
This room used to have ugly dark brown paneling.
This room used to have ugly dark brown paneling.

How to create a faux stucco finish

My house has a den with dark paneling that was done when the house was built, in 1961. It was of good quality, but it made the room very dark, and it had gone out of style years ago. I thought a long time before deciding the changes I wanted. My husband and I considered just painting the paneling a lighter color, like maybe off white or khaki, but that didn't really please me, either. I finally decided that I wanted the room to be a breakfast room, in sort of an "old tavern" style. My husband, Johnny, has had lots of experience with building and remodeling, so I knew he could tackle whatever we wanted to do with the room. Most anyone can accomplish this feat. It's a great do-it-yourself project, and you'll save a ton of money that way.

After we decided on a faux stucco finish for the walls, he got busy. First of all, he cleaned the walls with trisodium phosphate - better known as TSP. You can also use a TSP substitute like Krud Kutter. He let that dry overnight, and the next day he painted the walls with a coat of Kilz. Two hours later, he filled the grooves in the paneling with joint compound, using a 4" putty or joint knife, and let that dry overnight.

The next day, he lightly sanded the joint compound, using a sanding sponge with medium grit, and applied another coat of Kilz. When it was completely dry, he began applying sheetrock mud for the texture. You can by the powder form of the mud and mix it with water yourself, but unless you know what you're doing, it's hard to get it the right consistency. It's better to purchase ready-to-use mud. Even when you buy the ready made mud, you still need to mix it a little with a drywall mud mixer and a corded electric drill. A battery-powered drill won't be powerful enough. Mix the mud at a slow speed, being careful not to create air bubbles.

Then came the fun part! We applied the mud to the walls. To give it the texture and demension of stucco, Johnny used a trowel. I preferred to use my hands. I felt like a little kid making mud pies! It's pretty hard to mess this part of the process up. You want irregularities to give the walls an authentic feel.

After the walls were covered with texture, they had to dry for about 24 hours. This is important - the mud has to be completely dry. Be sure to check at the thickest spots. Next, we painted the walls a shade of pale yellowish tan, called "moon." The next part, I did all on my own. I had to "age" the walls. I wanted them to look as if they had endured years of smoke from the fireplace and decades of wear. My artisitc ability came in handy.

I got some of the tubes of acrylic paint from my art box, including yellow ocre, raw umber, and burnt umber. Working with one color at a time, I squeexed just a little of the paint onto my palette and thinned it down with water. Then I applied splotches of color to the walls using a wadded-up paper towel. I made sure to do a lot of blending so that the shading looked looked like a part of the patina. Be careful not to overdo this step! You don't want to completely cover the walls with the acrylic paints.

There are other things you can do to the walls to distress them. For example, while the paint is still wet, you can sprinkle powder on them in a few spots. You can also make dings with a hard object. You can even creat little "cracks" by drawing lines with a fine-tip black pen. Have fun with it! You can do this yourself - mistakes only add to the overall look. Everything you'll need to complete the job is sold below, except for the mud itself.

To add to the ambience of the room, Johnny added fake beams with a dark stain and wood floors to match. I think we'll also trim out the corners with 1 x 4's with a similar stain. After this room is completely finished, We'll close in the carport. I'm thinking of going with a Scottish hunting lodge look there. I'll let you know how that turns out!


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    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 2 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I wanted to do something like that with our old paneling. My hubby insisted on ripping it all out and putting up drywall. That looks just as good and it would be a lot easier and cheaper.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Colette - no, we've never had any problems with the faux stucco!

    • profile image

      colette 7 years ago

      Have you had any problems with moisture or mold after you completed the project?

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      We took pics of the finished product, just haven't loaded them yet!

      Thanks for reading, Old Frim and mulberry!

    • mulberry1 profile image

      mulberry1 8 years ago

      It's! Sounds like a very creative project.

    • The Old Firm profile image

      The Old Firm 8 years ago from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

      I want pictures too. As you go ones as well, pu-lease.



    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks! I'll take pictures when the room is completely finished.

    • KCC Big Country profile image

      Karen Curtis 8 years ago from Central Texas

      Pictures! I wanna see pictures! I loooooooove this idea. I'm all about creating stuff like this. I have a hub where I talk about how I redecorating my son's room. I went with the sponged on faux finish. I absolutely love how it turned out. Great hub!