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Installing Beadboard Panels

Mark Donovan

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Beadboard is great for heavily used areas in the home. Beadboard is ideal for walls in kitchens, bathrooms and hallways or anywhere where there is a high likelihood of the walls to be regularly scuffed or scratched. Typically it is fastened to the lower half of walls and is topped off with a piece of cap rail.

Contrary to installing strips, installing beadboard panels is relatively an easy project for the do-it-yourself homeowner. Beadboard panels come in 4'x8’ sheets that have been manufactured to look exactly like a series of tongue and grooved beadboard strips fastened together. They are relatively lightweight and can be cut using a table saw.

Tools Required:

  • Table Saw or Circular Saw
  • Miter Saw
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Hammer
  • Screw Driver
  • Tape Measure
  • Safety Glasses
  • Paint Brush

Materials Required

  • Nails
  • Beadboard panels
  • Cap Rail
  • Baseboard Trim
  • Corner Molding
  • Vapor Barrier
  • Paint / Polyurethane

Before installing panels in a room it is best to allow the boards to sit in the room for 2 or 3 days. This allows the panels to stabilize relative to the temperature and humidity of the room.

Installation starts with removing any baseboard trim that may be on the wall. Also remove outlet and switch covers that are located in the area where the beadboard is to be installed.

To install the beadboard panels, first start in a corner of the room and make a mark with a pencil at the top location of where you want to have the board to come to. Using a level and either a chalk line or pencil, make/draw a line the entire length of the wall at this height. You want to make sure that your line is level.

Next, place a section of trimmed panel up against the wall in the corner where you first made your mark. The trimmed panel should be cut to a height to allow it to be placed on the line and still have 1/8 to ¼ inch of clearance at the bottom. The gap at the bottom is necessary for thermal expansion of the panels.

When placing this first piece of trimmed panel up against the wall you will probably need to trim the edge of it to make it plumb with the wall. It is important that you do this to ensure that the vertical lines of the beadboard run perfectly perpendicular to the floor.

When securing the panel to the wall, leave about a 1/8th inch gap between the end of the panel and the corner to allow for thermal expansion. Likewise leave a 1/8th inch gap around doors and windows and cutouts for electrical outlets and switches.

To secure the beadboard panels to the wall, it is important to make sure you nail the panels to wall studs. Make sure you 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.

If you are installing the beadboard in an area where there is high moisture content you should use non-corrosive nails. Also, if you are installing it in a basement area a vapor barrier should be tacked on the wall first prior to installation.

After you have fully nailed the first panel in place, continue along the length of the wall installing the next panel. Make sure to fully nail each panel in place prior to moving on to the next panel.

Once you have completed the installation of the beadboard in the room, secure a cap rail to the top of the panels, and fasten baseboard trim to the bottom of them. In the corners attach corner molding.

Depending upon what type of finished look you want, either seal the beadboard paneling with a couple of coats of clear polyurethane or paint.

About the Author: Over the past 20 years Mark Donovan has been involved with building homes and additions to homes. His projects have included: building a vacation home, building additions and garages on to existing homes, and finishing unfinished homes. For more information about Home Additions and Home Improvement , and Home Remodeling and Repair visit and homeaddition.


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