The best way to clean wood paneling is with a good cleaner and conditioner all in one.
If you have a house with real wood paneling in the basement for example but it is really dated, and you would love nothing more than to rip it out and start again but the cost scares you, then why not work with it instead?
"Retro" is in again, and so is recycling, so you can save yourself a lot of money by simply making that old wood paneling look better, as if it belonged!
We just purchased a 1955 bungalow and the basement family room has this mahogony wood panel sheeting on the walls. It was installed very well, actually too well, making this a nasty project if we ever decided to rip it down.
It was the first thing on our mind, until we got working in the rest of the house painting and updating. As we lived with this basement for a while, and did some research in magazines and even had a decorator friend come to visit, we decided that we would simply work with it rather than against it.
We started out by painting the ceiling tiles to freshen them up and then I researched products for the wood paneling to help bring it back to life, it was looking very dry and dull.
After much research I decided to try this Orange Glow wood cleaner and conditioner by Pledge.
I have to tell you, not only is the smell nice, but the wood really drank it up. There was an area of paneling over a fireplace that had smoke damage on it from years of use. This not only nourished that area of wood but cleaned the smoke film off too!
I was really impressed with the result. In the picture you can see the bottom part of the paneling has this product on and not the top.
What you will need:
You should wear gloves,
and you will need some lint free rags and a soft polishing cloth.
Orange Glow Wood Cleaner And Conditioner
Vacuum the walls to get rid of spider webs, and take a close look for any nails that you might get caught on (such as nails for hanging pictures etc) I came across a few of these that I didn't see until working closer to the wall and they will shred your cloth or your hand so be careful.Credit: morguefile.com
Now starting at one end of the room, take a three foot wide section and then spray the product directly on the wall. Take your cloth and really work the product into the wood.
Move on to the next section until you have finished your one wall. Then head back to the beginning and using a soft clean cloth, rub it again as if polishing it, and this will take off any excess and give your wood paneling a really nice sheen.
Chances are there will not be much excess, if it is anything like my wood, really dry! Finish the rest of the room, being careful not to get this spray on any drywalled areas that may be getting painted.
Once you have done a wall and then gone back and polished it, you may find you need to repeat this process one more time if your wood was very dry, dirty and dull. Take a look at your cloth, and you will see the dirt that has been on these poor walls making them look oldy and dingy.
In a decorating book I found on working with a "retro" room, such as a panelled basement, it suggests you have a white ceiling (I painted my ceiling tiles white) and a light carpeted floor (as more wood would simply be too much wood in a room like this) then fill your walls with tall and vertical canvases of colour rather than wood frames.
The 3D effect of a white canvas with either transferred photographs or nice artwook in panels, such as 3 panels of canvases separated by a few inches will really add depth to a panelled wall.
Making them more vertical such as 4 feet tall by 2 feet works really well. The unframed canvases with add some depth, at least 2 inches deep looks really good on a panelled wall. If you make sure there is some white in the artwork especially around the edges it just seems to work well with the paneled wood walls.
Also grouping them in 3s for example looks really good. Large colourful flowers etc works well, especially if your panelling is dark. If it is lighter wood then you could go with deeper colours in the cavanses. Just some thoughts to get your imagination going to work with this room!
Also add some really "retro" curtains such as white with blue and brown patterns for example, and now you have completed your basement reno on the cheap. The most expensive part of this update will be the carpet, but compared to ripping out sheets of panelling and replacing it will drywall, taping and mudding this is a cheaper option.
Paint your ceiling tiles white, nourish and clean the wood Orange Glo Wood Furniture 2-in-1 Cleaner & Polish and add a new berber style carpet, some art canvases on the wall and you will have a brand new room without the huge investment of a typical family room renovation.
So, if you are wondering what to do to make out dated wood paneling look better, then start by cleaning and nourishing it, if it is the real wood panels. It would be ashame to see these in the landfill.
There are a few products on the market to clean and nourish wood paneling but I found this Orange Glow to about the best there is for an affordable price. You can get this product at most hardware stores and home improvement stores, but you can also get it online at sites such as Amazon.
Enjoy that "retro" paneling. Embrace it and clean it rather than ripping it out maybe add a lava lamp or two for some real retro fun!.