How to Install Bathroom Beadboard

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Beadboard panels are a natural choice for bathroom walls. Traditionally referred to as beaded board, these panels have fewer seams for moisture to penetrate and they install quicker than old fashioned tongue-and-groove strips. Painted classic white, beadboard freshens the appearance of a room and makes a small space appear larger. Stained dark, the panels give a rich feel that complements many color schemes. Installation is not difficult. You can complete this project in a weekend.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • 4-foot level
  • 8-foot stain-grade beadboard panels
  • Circular saw
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Construction adhesive
  • Finishing nails
  • Hammer
  • Nail set
  • Caulk
  • Wood putty (optional)
  • Measure up from the floor to determine how high you want your beadboard. Wainscoting height is typically 36 inches, but it is your choice. If your ceiling is 8 feet high or less, you can cover the entire wall.

  • Measure across the wall to determine how many sheets of beadboard you need. Many panels are available in 4-foot widths.

  • Measure up from the floor in one corner to the height of your beadboard and mark that spot on the wall with a pencil. Place a 4-foot level horizontally on the wall at the mark. Trace along the edge of the level with a pencil. Continue across the wall until you have one straight, level line from one end of the wall to the other.

  • Measure along the left side of a beadboard panel to the desired length and mark it with a pencil. Measure along the right side to the same length and mark it with a pencil. Place your 4-foot level on the board aligned with both marks. Trace along the edge of the level with a pencil to create a straight cutting line.

  • Cut the beadboard panel at the line with a circular saw. Sand any rough edges lightly with fine sandpaper.

  • Test-fit the panel on the wall to see if any cutting adjustments are needed. If there are, mark the board for trimming and cut the excess material with a circular saw.

  • Apply construction adhesive to the back of the beadboard panel in zigzag strokes. Place the panel against the wall in the desired location, making sure it aligns with the wall marking.

  • Hammer finishing nails into the panel at 4-inch intervals around the edges. Once you have installed trim moulding, it will hide the nails.

  • Work across the wall, repeating the steps for each panel. Butt each new panel tightly against the edge of the last.

  • Apply caulk to the seams between panels for a clean finish if you plan to paint them.

Tips & Warnings

  • Install beadboard before you install baseboards and chair rails. This allows you to disguise minor errors with the perfectly straight, milled edges of your trim.
  • If a panel bows out in the center because it is warped or the wall is uneven, add one or two nails in inconspicuous places to secure it to the wall.
  • Fill noticeable seams with wood putty if you choose to stain your beadboard instead of painting it.
  • Cuts are not always perfect, so make sure the vertical grooves are straight before nailing the panel to the wall. Place a level along the vertical grooves and slide the panel around until they are straight.
  • Be careful when hammering nails. Panels are soft and will dent easily. Leave nails a bit high and finish the job with a nail set.

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