There are different types of paneling, real wood, 4×8 sheets of grooved paneling with a contact paper face to look like real wood (this is the most common type) and Marlite FRP, a 4×8 sheet with a plastic like shiny face.
- Clean the surface removing all dirt, grease, wax and polish. A good soap solution will remove most dirt and grime. TSP will remove most wax and cooking grease. A strong solvent like wax and grease remover (LC-756) will also remove wax and grease and some polishes. Scuff the surface with 120-150 grit sandpaper or Scotch Brite, to dull the surface and create profile for the primer to stick to.
- The next step would be to prime the surface with a bonding type primer. Most bonding type primers say that sanding is not required, but it is a good idea to sand anyway so that you can get wet adhesion as well as dry adhesion. There are different types of bonding primers for different surfaces. For Marlite FRP you should use XIM UMA primer because it sticks to most plastics. For real wood, an oil primer like Coverstain or Bulls Eye Odorless work great to prime as well as block out dark wood stain colors. For contact paper faced paneling a number of different primers will work depending on preference, 1-2-3, UMA, Coverstain, Bulls Eye Odorless. Do not use drywall primer they do not have the bond of the others.
- The last step is to paint the surface.