Wall Panelling Tutorial

I have a confession to make: I’m in love with wall panelling. There’s just something about a panelled wall that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. We weren’t lucky enough to have any original panelling in the house but I desperately wanted to have at least one panelled room in our home - so we’d just have to add it! Mr S was in but said that we had to hire a professional, as we’d only cock it up if we did it ourselves. I didn’t get any quotes because I knew it would be extortionate (other people have since confirm this for me) and I just had this feeling that I could do it myself. And not cock it up, obvs. (Barely any prior DIY knowledge or ability FYI, just a strong sense of self confidence ;p).

The first room I wanted to panel originally was the lower half of the walls in the Sitting Room. But I wasn’t quite THAT confident (a room that everyone sees, all the time. Ie. no hiding it if I mess it up royally) and so I decided to tackle our spare bedroom instead; the forgotten miserable room at the back of the house where we dumped everything we didn’t know what to do with. AKA The Sad Room. Mr S was still dead against this and so one weekend when he was working, I made a start in secret. I would have a full weekend in peace to see if I could do it and then hopefully, by the time he found out, it would look that amazing he wouldn’t be pissed. Good logic, right?

Well if you agree and want to go behind your significant other’s back to create your own panelled dream room, then this beginners guide to creating your very own wall panelling is everything you need to know. Disclaimer: I am not a joiner, I have had no training, I didn’t even watch any other tutorials first. Based on images of the kinds of wall panelling I like, this is what I did:

Spoiler alert - it worked! And looked bloody good too.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

Pencil

Spirit Level

Tape Measure

Calculator (if basic maths is hard for you like it is me!

Wood Beading of your choice

Mitre Saw or Hand Saw and Mitre Block

Adhesive (wood glue)

Hammer

Tacks

Caulk

Ladders

90’s-00’s Hip Hop and R&B (optional, but I can’t do DIY without it)

And the big one… PATIENCE

STEP 1

PLAN YOUR PANELS

Decide how many panels you want on each wall and how tall/wide you want them to be. Look at inspiration and gather ideas as to how you want your room to look. Do you want a dado rail? Consider how they will work around your room, thinking about windows, fireplaces, doorways and other features.

STEP 2

DRAW YOUR PANELS ON THE WALLS

That’s right. Actually draw, with a pencil, where you want your panels to sit. Trust me, this will help massively later.

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Ok, so I actually combined STEP 1 and 2 and planned as I went along making amendments where necessary. It probably took longer but I’m a visual person and needed to see it on the walls to know if the sizing looked right etc. This is how I chose the sizing and layout of our panels, based on the shape and features of the room. You can use this and apply it to you own space:

First up, I wanted a dado rail and so started with this. I knew it would be the same all around the room and would help to dictate the size of the panels above and below. Dado rails (or chair rails) are traditionally 900mm from the floor but I wanted ours to sit lower to give the illusion of height. The actual height of the dado was determined by the window, which is the lowest sitting feature in the room and I wanted to run the dado underneath without cutting into it.

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I measured from the floor to the bottom of the window (with a tape measure) and used that measurement to draw a line all around the room - measuring up the same distance from the floor at intervals around the room and leaving a mark at the height, then joining the marks together to make a line. This would be the top of the dado rail. A spirit level will also come in really handy with this - making sure your line is level, as much as using as a ruler :) Now, you have to be careful with this. Check your skirting and ceiling with the spirit level first to see if they are level. If not, like mine weren’t, you’ll need to make the same adjustments with for the dado (and consequently the panelling). If you do your line level with the spirit and the rest of your room is out, it will look ridiculous. Trust me. It does make it harder but it’s not impossible, every wall in this bedroom was out in every way possible, you’d never now that now. Promise.

I then measured the thickness of the dado rail that I had purchased - Primed MDF Dado Rail from B&Q which was 58mm wide - and drew a second line underneath the first to that size. On the walls is now exactly where the dado would sit and means you can plan your above and below panels.

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Now, we have curved ceilings in this room, and of course, they curve to a different height on both walls. Just to make it MORE complicated. Therefore the height of our panels were determined by the shortest wall (left) as I wanted the height of our panels to be the same all around the room. I also knew that I wanted the head of the bed to be a feature wall and so planned that the centre panel be a similar width to the bed and the side panels much more narrow but symmetrical to either side of the bed, for bedside lights.

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Another consideration is the gap between each panel and the gap between the panels and adjoining walls/dado/ceiling or coving/skirting. I opted for a 65mm gap for these and a 70mm gap either side of the dado - eventually anyway (see below). I made this decision by eye as I was drawing it on the walls and then making amendments if it didn’t look right. When you (finally) decide what looks best, keep these measurements the same for all the way round the room for consistency.

The gap between the panels and ceiling and skirting was slightly different on each wall for me because of the curved ceiling and also because the room is so out in places, however you’d never know to look at it. Especially now as it’s all painted the same colour. This would ideally be the same size all around the room too though.

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The wall with the window was easy, it’s almost central and so I just did one panel either side.

For the large ‘empty’ wall I wanted 3 panels to mirror the opposite window wall. I simply measured the width of the entire wall, removed the 65mm I wanted between each panel (and 65mm between the panel and the adjoining walls at either end) and dividing equally by 3 to get the width of each panel - this is where I needed the calculator!

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Other panels were easier as the room dictated the size:

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It really is worth taking your time with drawing the panels on the wall. It will make it so much easier when it comes to attaching the beading. Plus you have lots of opportunity to change the design and sizing to make sure it completely perfect for you.

Use your level; but also your eye to make sure the lines make sense in relation to your ceiling, floors and adjoining walls. I had to do A LOT of moving around to make they LOOKED level, when maybe they actually weren’t level.

I spent almost 2 days doing the planning and drawing.

STEP 3

CUT AND STICK YOUR BEADING

I used a 20mm decorative wood beading from B&Q - similar to this, I can’t find the exact one on their website. There is a huge range available, decide how wide (and thick) and therefore how much of an impact you want your panelling to have; I went for a narrow thin beading so that it was quite subtle.

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This is where your drawings come into play. Do one panel at a time and measure all 4 sides (technically you should have only two measurements as the opposite sides of a panel should be the same length). You then need to cut this length from the wood beading. Two things to remember here: 1. You are cutting at a 45 degree angle so that each piece joins up to form a perfect little corner and 2. the pencil line you are measuring is the OUTSIDE/LONGER edge of the panel and so you are cutting into the beading so that the other edge is shorter. EVERY TIME. See:

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STILL WITH ME?

Now, to cut a 45degree angle you have two options: a mitre saw (power tool) or a hand saw and a mitre block. I used the latter because I didn’t have a mitre saw at the time and I would still use a handsaw and mitre block if I did it again. Although it’s physically harder work, I think that the power tool would be too powerful for the beading (unless you were making a statement with really chunky beading - I’m all for BTW) and would cause it to splinter. Which is not what you want.

When you have all 4 sides of a panel cut, it’s time to attach. Apply the adhesive (literally any form of wood glue will do for this job. I’ve used most and they all do the same) to the back of each piece of beading and stick them to the wall, lining the long edge of the beading up with the pencil line. Once all 4 piece are on the wall you can use them to square each other off - checking with your level to make sure they are right! You have about 10mins (but check the label on the adhesive you’ve bought) until they are stuck and won’t move. AT ALL. Once you are happy, apply pressure all over the beading to make sure they are stuck firm. You can also use little tacks for extra support. I only found this necessary in places where the walls were wonky and the beading wasn’t touching the wall. I left them partly sticking out so that I could remove them when the adhesive was dry.

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A note with the adhesive: if you get any on the wall or on the right side of your beading clean it off before it dries. Once it sets you wont be able to get it off and it’ll be visible when you paint.

Continue like this until all panels are complete.

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STEP 4

CAULK

Caulk is the bomb. Use it to fill any gaps and tidy up your edges. If you haven’t used it before, it’s super easy. Load the caulk tube into your gun, squeeze a line (or dots) over the edge that needs filling, wet your finger and drag it along the caulk into the gap AND THAT’S IT.

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STEP 5

PAINT

I used regular emulsion to paint the walls and wood beading. I personally prefer it all to be the same colour -but that’s up to you!

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And then you can have one beautifully panelled room that you can be stupidly proud of because YOU DID IT ALL YO SELF!!!

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What do you think? Would you give this a go yourself? Let me know in the comments below and if you have tried it, I’d love to know how you got on!

K, love ya, bye x