Painted paneling. (Sherwin Williams / May 19, 2014)

Painting ugly paneling is one of the least expensive yet most dramatic ways to change a room. A splash of color can be a transforming facelift that lightens and brightens paneled walls with a fresh new look. A bit of preparation work is required to clean, patch and prime the surface, but once that's done it's as easy as rolling on the paint.

A painting contractor will charge $732 to prepare and paint the paneling in a 15-foot by 18-foot room, which includes the labor and material. But you can do the job for $130 and save 82 percent. The job involves several stages.

First, fill any nail holes or blemishes with wood filler; when the filler is dry, sand the filled-in spots smooth. Then clean the paneling and let it dry. Next, apply a primer coat of a stain blocker like B-I-N with a roller to prevent any bleed-through of stains from knotty wood and to create a surface for the paint to bond to. Finally, apply the finish topcoat of quality paint.

If the paneling is very dark, you might need two finish coats of paint. You'll need a paintbrush, roller and pan. A power sander with 120-grit sandpaper comes in handy for smoothing the wood filler and any rough surfaces.

Pro Cost -- DIY Cost -- Pro time -- DIY Time -- DIY Savings -- Percent Saved

$732 -- $130 -- 7.8 -- 12.5 -- $602 -- 82 Percent