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How to Add Beadboard Wainscoting to Your Bathroom

Beadboard is an old material given new life in today's homes. People are installing it everywhere, but it’s especially popular teamed with a chair rail and used as wainscoting. Wainscoting is installed by gluing and nailing it to the wall and capping it with a chair rail molding. You'll see ordinary to intricate rail moldings with beadboard finished with paint or stain.

Follow these directions to install wainscoting:

  1. Beginning in a corner, make a mark on the wall 32 inches up from the floor.

  2. Drive a finish nail through the mark and hook the end of a chalk line over it. Stretch the chalk line to the opposite corner.

    Make sure the line is level.

  3. When the line is level, make another mark on the wall and drive a nail through the mark.

  4. Measure the distance from the mark to the floor.

    If it’s over 32 inches, this is the low side of the room and you can continue around the room with the line.

    If the line you mark is less than 32 inches, start at the other end of the room (the high side) and mark a level line around the room.

  5. From the high side of the room, continue the level line around the room.

    This way, the top edge of the beadboard can be installed on the level line without having to cut any panels. Molding will cover the gap at the floor.

  6. After you have the layout line established, use the stud finder to locate the wall studs and mark their location on the layout line and on the floor.

    These marks allow you to nail the panels and trim moldings to the studs. The floor marks will come in handy when you install the floor moldings.

  7. Beginning in a back corner, lay out the panels along the walls to see where the joints fall.

    Arrange the panels so that you will not have a narrow piece in one of the corners or against a door or window.

  8. Run construction adhesive in vertical lines about 4 inches apart on the wall and place the first panel into position.

    Beadboard is sold in 4-foot-wide panels that come in an 8-foot length to cover walls and ceilings and also as 32-inch-high precut panels specifically for use as wainscoting. It comes in unfinished pine and in various woods and finishes. You'll also find beadboard made of polystyrene that's perfect for painting.

  9. Make adjustments so that the panel is level, press it firmly in place against the adhesive, and nail it into place.

    Nail through the panel into the wall studs and use a nail set to drive the nail heads below the surface of the panel.

  10. Continue this process around the room.

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