If you have plaster walls, you've probably dealt with cracks, as well as the fact that it is very difficult to get nails through the wall. Beadboard, either as wall paneling or as wainscoting, can be installed over plaster walls. The installation technique will depend on the type of walls you have. If it is plaster over masonry, adhesive is the only installation method available. If it is plaster over wood, you can nail or screw the beadboard into the wall.
Things You'll Need
Prep the wall. Clean off any dirt or debris with a soft, damp cloth. Wait until the wall is completely dry before proceeding.
Find the studs. Use a stud finder to locate the studs in the wall. Make a mark with a pencil where the studs are located. If you cannot find any studs, this could mean that your wall is masonry and you will need to attach the beadboard differently.
Cut the beadboard. Measure the width and height of the wall, and cut the necessary panels to fit. For example, if the room is 10 feet wide by 8 feet tall, you will need two whole sheets of 4 x 8 beadboard and a part of a third sheet to make up for the two extra feet in width.
Attach the beadboard. Use masonry screws and a drill to apply one screw every 18 inches on top of the stud. Masonry screws work best on plaster -- regular panel nails will not be able to penetrate the plaster. If the walls have no studs, apply a panel adhesive to the back of the beadboard and to the wall. Press each panel firmly into place. This adhesive cures quickly so you will need to position each panel properly right away. Hold the panel in place for a few minutes to let it cure, and then move to the next panel.
Hide the screws. Use a small amount of wood putty to cover the screws. If the beadboard is white, use white wood putty. Otherwise, match the color of the board to the putty as closely as possible.