Installing a Beadboard

A few weeks ago we had interior designer Lisa Worth on the show  to talk about architectural details and why they are so key to imbuing a home with a sense of history and character. During the interview she mentioned that some types were easy to do yourself, so we asked Bryan Bauemler, builder extraordinaire, and host of House of Bryan and Disaster DIY to show us how.


Watch episode 168 now

Working with Steven and Chris, Bryan took a plain, boring wall from bland to beautiful  by adding beadboard, a chair rail, baseboard and crown moulding  and then finished it with a coatrack - to create a fabulous entry.


A Guide to Installing Beadboard

Beadboard is ideal for walls in high traffic areas such as  kitchens, bathrooms and hallways or anywhere walls are likely to get scuffed or scratched. Typically it is fastened to the lower half of walls and is topped off with a piece of chair rail.

The traditional method is to install individual,  interlocking tongue in groove strips of wood  but installing beadboard panels is a faster, easier approach for the do-it-yourself homeowner. These beadboard panels come in lightweight 4'x8' sheets that can be cut using a table saw, or you can ask the lumberyard to cut them for you.

How to Do it Yourself!

Tools Required:

Materials Required:
Before  you install the panels, let them sit in the room for 2 or 3 days to acclimatize  to the temperature and humidity of the room.

Remove any baseboard trim , outlet and switch covers that may be on the wall where the beadboard is going to be installed.

Starting from a corner, use a pencil to mark the height of the board. (usually about 36 - 38 " high with the chair rail) Using a level and a chalk line or pencil, draw a  line the entire length of the wall. Check it with your level. You should allow a 1/8 to ¼ inch of clearance at the bottom of the paneling to allow for any expansion.  ( you should also leave a gap between the end of the panel and the corner of the wall or around any doors, windows, light switches and plugs to allow for expansion)

You will probably need to trim the edge of the beadboard to make it plumb with the wall and ensure that the vertical lines of the beadboard run perfectly perpendicular to the floor.  In many homes the walls and floors are not straight so when in doubt - go with your  own eyes - if it looks straight - it probably is!

When you secure the beadboard panels to the wall, it is important to make sure you nail the panels to wall studs and use finishing nails that are long enough to penetrate 3/4th of an inch to 1 inch into the wall studs. The nails should be placed 6 to 8 inches apart along the edge of the panels and approximately ½ inch in from the edge of the panel. Its always wise to use non-corrosive nails if the beadboard is going in an area with a lot of humidity or in a basement.  After you have completely nailed the first panel, make sure it is straight, before attaching the next.

When  you have installed all the beadboard, add a 'chair rail' to the top of the panels which will  finish the rough edge, and it also acts to protect the wall from chair backs. You may also want to add corner molding to the corners. Fasten baseboard trim to the bottom.Attach the crown molding to the top of the wall ( these can also be precut at your building center.  - buy  one piece to bring home to see if you like it) Next, you should caulk any gaps or nail holes with a pre-made putty, let it dry, sand it off and paint the beadboard and moldings in the same paint you'd use for the trim.