Learn how to install beadboard paneling in this easy step-by-step tutorial that is perfect for any home renovator, whether you’re a beginner or expert.
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Our kitchen renovation is officially underway and we decided to begin with one of the lengthier projects: installing beadboard for a wainscoting effect around the entire kitchen and dining area.
Let me just say two things…
1 – It is not a terribly difficult project, but it is very messy and will take some time and patience.
2- It is 100% worth all the work because you will save so much money installing it yourself. We spent about $250 total on materials and estimate it would’ve cost around $1,000+ if we’d hired out.
I should also mention that in other blog posts I read from other DIYers and home improvement sites, some of them forgot to mention a few very key details. Details that can potentially make the process much lengthier and pricier. So I’m going to cover some of these, too.
Nevertheless, this cottage kitchen lined in beadboard lends the perfect look if you’re going for a country style home. It looks particularly well in cottages, bungalows, and farmhouses. The classic style is timeless and adds down-to-earth elegance to create a charming home.
Installing beadboard is also very customizable. You can stack it for a more dramatic look where it reaches more than halfway up the walls, or keep it simple for a more subtle accent.
Beadboard is often painted white, but I opted for another neutral (Balanced Beige by Sherwin Williams) that adds a creamy, coffee-kissed hue to the paneling. It pairs well with the light pastel greens and blues we’ll be adding in later as we paint the cabinets and floors.
This particular project, from start to finish, took us over two weeks. But that’s only because we took breaks (we like to work in phases) and also had to have some electrical work done in between, too. (Not to mention I had to redo some filling and sanding, oops!)
You can finish this much faster if you have the time and motivation.
If you’ve been lusting after this kind of beadboard wainscoting style for ages and are dying to know how to tackle this seemingly big project, you won’t want to miss this.
Today, I’m going to share all the steps, tips, supplies, and more so you can learn how to install beadboard paneling…
How to Install Beadboard Paneling
Supplies/Tools | How to Install Beadboard Paneling
1 ½ – inch nails
Brad nailer and air compressor (We use this Craftsman one HERE and love it)
Plastic or metal spreader
Thin scrap cardboard, optional
Laser leveler, optional
Sandpaper, 60 – 120 grit
Electric hand sander, optional
Face respirator mask
Angled sash brush
Paint roller with brush
Tips | How to Install Beadboard Paneling
I highly recommend opening up a new can of wood filler as you begin filling seams and holes. Older cans of filler tend to harden a little and make spreading it more difficult.
I also recommend using a wider plastic spreader to cover more area. Doing this allows you to cover up seams better, especially horizontal seams if you’re stacking boards for more height like we did.
When sanding, if you went a little thick with wood filler definitely use an electric hand sander. Just go carefully. Once you’ve taken too much off, the seam becomes visible again and you’ll have to touch up that area and resand it again later. If you’ve laid it on thinner just use sandpaper and manually sand it off. Sand in circular motions in spots where the filler starts and stops for a more seamless look. This helps diminish the appearance of visible start and stop lines from the wood filler.
If you’re absolutely terrible at filling and sanding the horizontal seams, my only other recommendation is to add a thin, decorative piece of trim along this seam to hide it in a clever way. We ended up doing this and it looks intentional, not like a cover up job.
This one is super important. Be sure to account for any outlets. I’m not just referring to when you’re creating cut-outs for the outlets in the beadboard. You’ll also need to extend the outlets out after adding the beadboard. Otherwise the outlets will be recessed and look strange. It’s also not compliant with electrical code. Thankfully, this should be an easy DIY job. In our old house this was another story, though… Brittle wires kept snapping too short, making them difficult to connect, and the outlets all needed replacing. After my husband spent several hours one weekend to no avail, we decided to hire out on this electrical work. Luckily we now have five new outlets (that all sit flush with the beadboard) and 2 new light switches. Just always be aware that anything electrical may seem easy at first glance but can quickly go amiss. Check out wiring beforehand to decide if you can do it yourself and factor these costs in if you’re hiring out. You won’t want any surprises later.
Steps | How to Install Beadboard Paneling
Mark studs on the wall.
Studs run vertically from the top to the bottom of the walls in every room of a house. Use a stud finder to find the studs in the wall and mark where they are, preferably above where you’re installing beadboard panels. You can always paint over or erase these marks later. These will be where you secure the boards. However, you may need to secure the boards in additional areas, too, to make them lay flat against the existing wall.
Measure and make cuts.
You will do this as you go, one board at a time. When you take measurements be sure to account for windowsills, outlets, countertops, etc. that you may need to cut around. Sometimes this can be tricky, but double checking measurements and even creating cardboard cutouts to trace around on the beadboard (for windowsills in particular) will help you be successful with this.
Make longer cuts with a circular (or table) saw and cutouts or more awkward cuts with a jigsaw.
Attach beadboard to walls.
Start adding one board at a time, applying construction adhesive and then nailing each board into place where studs are located. The beadboard should fit right on top of the baseboard. (Add baseboards first if this is not the case.) Move from one side to the next and once you finish begin stacking your next row of boards on top, if you are adding extra height. Be absolutely sure you line up the beads when stacking panels above existing ones. Otherwise, once finished it won’t look like one cohesive piece.
Check any areas of the beadboard that aren’t completely flat and add additional nails to secure properly. Edges and seams are a good place to add additional nails.
Add chair moulding.
Once you completely finish adding the beadboard, add chair rail moulding horizontally above it. This will add a decorative effect and create a sleek top edge to the beadboard. Add nails where the studs are located. A leveler may come in handy here to double check that they’re straight. You can always fill any gaps between the panels and moulding with caulk later.
Fill seams and holes with wood filler.
Fill holes where nails are located and any seams where the beadboard pieces meet (both vertically and horizontally). Wipe the filler as flat as you can as you go. This will make sanding easier on the next step. Use a spreader tool to create the vertical beads in the panels while the filler is still wet. Let it dry completely.
Sand wood filler after drying.
Using sandpaper, sand any areas you added wood filler to. Most areas will be easy, but sanding horizontal seams (if you’ve stacked beadboard panels) can be trickier. Try sanding in a circular motion to make an even transition from wood filler to panel to leave no trace of lines. Always wear a respirator mask and have proper ventilation while doing this. Clean up any sawdust immediately afterward.
Seal edges with paintable latex caulk.
Go around any remaining edges with a paintable caulk. Fill these areas, and with a glove use your finger to wipe it flat as you can. Let it dry properly before moving on to the next step.
Finish with paint.
Finally you can add paint to the almost finished beadboard walls. Add 2-3 coats of your paint of choice. Use an angled brush to paint the vertical beads, edges, baseboards, and chair moulding. Use a roller to paint the rest. Two coats should be sufficient, with minimal touch-ups afterward. Let dry completely.