Let's talk about how to prep and paint tongue and groove!
Here to share all of my wisdom (hardy har har) after painting all of the tongue and groove in our kitchen!
It is kind of a beast to paint tongue and groove, and if I had a whole house of it or a huge room with it, I would be intimidated. But paint is also one of the most satisfying DIY projects because you can see IMMEDIATE results. So that is motivating!
Not any part of it is hard, it just takes substantially longer than painting regular, flat walls with NO tongues and NO grooves.
Prepping to Paint
(If you're starting with primed or already-painted tongue and groove, you can skip this part!)
Before you even think about paint, you need to prep your tongue and groove!
We used grade 2 pine in our kitchen, which meant it had lots of knots and dents and sap and some pieces were rougher than others. Here were the steps we took to get it ready for paint:
- Fill the knots and nail holes with spackle. This is so their contours aren't visible after painting. Do a very thin coat to cut down on sanding. I use a plastic putty knife for this, or just a finger if I'm just doing nail holes. Let it dry completely.
- Sand. This is to remove the excess spackel, and also to smooth out any rough boards. If you have sap on your boards, sanding will take care of that, too (though it will gunk up your sand paper!). I highly recommend an orbital sander for this and 220 or 400 grit sandpaper. Be careful when sanding the grooves not to change their shape.
- Prime with a shellac-based primer. Don't skip this step! The color of knots in pine wood in particular tend to bleed through whatever paint is on top of them, so you need a barrier to prevent this. Shellac is the best at this! I didn't use this specific primer when I painted my desk, and two years later, I can tell!
Painting Tongue + Groove
Now that all that prep is done, you're ready to paint!
(Wait. First, stop and deliberate paint colors. Look them all up online. Buy samples. Meet all the employees at your Sherwin William store. Know them by name. Buy more samples. Change your mind. Buy more samples. Over think it. Then, go with the first paint color you ever picked out. Months ago. Now, you're ready.)
Just like with regular walls, I like to use a brush and a roller here. For most stretches, I would paint the grooves with my paint brush (be careful not to overload it or the paint will flood the groove), then go back with a roller and paint the faces of the boards.
(If you're painting in the summer, you may need to go back in with a brush in the winter and touch up the grooves - as the wood contracts due to the cold, there may be a bit of visible wood that wasn't reachable in the summer.)
For harder to reach areas, I used a small foam roller on an extension pole. The foam roller is key here because it can sort of squeeze into the groove and paint it pretty perfectly. This is maybe an unconventional method of painting, but it WORKED.
That's all there is to it! It takes longer than regular walls, and can be tedious, but just two coats (probably!) and you'll be done!
I love the look of our tongue and groove, but also it's one of those things that ended up being so much work, I kind of wonder if I had known how much work it was going to be before starting, would I have done it? Maybe it's just that not enough time has passed yet. Either way, I'm glad I didn't know! Because I really do love it.