DIY: Raised Panel Wall

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Raised wall panels in a grid pattern give a classic "library" look to any living room or study, whether it's a wainscoting design on the bottom half of the wall or it goes all the way to the ceiling. Either way, it's something you can create yourself, with a little planning. Buy enough flat 1/4-inch two-by-two-foot wall panels to cover your wall, along with lower and upper trim, flat trim, and raised square centerpieces for the panels of whatever design you want (but smaller than two-by-two). Stain and gloss the pieces before assembling them on the wall.

Prepare the Wall

  • Your wall needs to be clean, free of loose or crumbling plaster and flat to affix any kind of wall paneling or trim. If there are areas of raised plaster or cracks, scrape them out, replaster and sand to get a smooth surface. Once you're satisfied with the condition of the wall, use an electronic studfinder to locate the positions of all the studs on the wall, marking them with a pencil for as high as the paneling will extend. Then use a level to draw a grid of two-foot squares across the area.

Lay the Base Panel

  • Attach your two-foot flat wood panels to the wall with trim nails and carpenter's glue along the grid that you drew. You don't have to penetrate a wall stud with every nail, but every panel should have at least a few nails through a stud. (Since studs are situated every 16 inches, there will be at least one behind every panel.) For nails that aren't going into stud, hit them at an angle to make sure they hold. Sink all your nail heads with a countersink. Create your entire grid with the flat panels, then let the glue set overnight.

Trim the Wood

  • Once the base panels are dry, affix your trim to it with glue and nails. The design is up to you, but you will need base trim along the bottom and upper trim along the top (chair rail if it's a wainscoting design that comes partway up the wall; crown molding if it goes to the ceiling). You will also need to lay flat trim over the seams of your base panels, overlapping the grid pattern of lines with trim. Once you have all your squares outlined on the wall, attach your decorative raised panels, setting one in the center of each square. Once it's all up, coat the whole wall in a final layer of polyurethane.

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