The thought of actually painting paneling is terrifying. Long hours of preparation is required according to the experts. Cabinet doors and frames will require endless hours of sanding. In reality, it does not have to be so stressful.
After removing the doors and all hardware, the surfaces should be meticulously cleaned with TSP. The grooves received particular attention since those are going to be filled with putty and sanded.
Once the cabinets are cleaned, rinsed and dry, apply wood putty to the grooves and the old hardware holes using a small putty knife. Choose putty that dries hard enough to drive nails through. This is necessary since new hardware will be installed and there is a possibility that the screw holes will not line up.
When the putty is dry, sand it down using a fine grade sand paper, then apply a second application of putty and again sand. Although putty labels claim the product will not shrink, it almost inevitably does. If you do not want to see the lines after you have painted, it is important to repeat the filling and sanding process.
The next step is priming the paneling. The first coat will not be impressive, it is rather blotchy and does not cover in one coat as the product may claim it will. Once the first coat is dry, a second coat is applied and will completely covering the dark color.
The next step is applying the paint. Choose to use a roller rather than a brush merely because the roller will leave a nice texture. Since the cabinet doors are so flat, light reflects off of them and brush strokes would leave unappealing lines. Choose a semi-gloss latex paint which will clean up easily.
When the paint has dried, the new hardware is installed and the cabinet is reassembled.
Since new hardware is relatively costly, spray paint matching the new pewter pulls allows the hinges to be salvaged and reused. The kitchen or bathroom is transformed from a dark, dated paneled room to a bright, inviting room with hard, washable cabinetry.