Interested in knowing how to panel a wall? Wall paneling has recently gained momentum, with Instagram users sharing their wall paneling transformations throughout the home, especially in Hallway, bedroom, living room and bathroom.
According to data from Google Trends, DIY wall paneling has taken over both people’s homes and social media feeds, with over 250 percent searches for ‘wall paneling DIY’.
Wall paneling can come in a few different forms, so it’s really important that you do your research and choose the style that you think will best suit your home. For example, moldings include grand period designs, tongue-and-groove, traditional Shaker-style, Jacobean-style grids, or dado styles.
But don’t be discouraged if you’ve never done it before: With a little knowledge, you can make decorative wall panels easily and quickly, with great results.
Wall paneling adds character, charm and personality to a property. Whether you are inspired to install some bathroom wall panels or some stylish bedroom wall panels, follow our guide on how to panel a wall using MDF wood.
how to panel a wall
Celebrity builder and expert Craig Phillips says, ‘Paneling adds warmth, depth and character to any space, no matter what size it is. ‘It really transforms a room and is completely different from a typical feature wall.’
Before you start, the essentials you’ll need include:
MDF Wood Paneling
a spirit level
No nail glue (or a similar brand)
saw or cutter
A notebook and pen to reduce the size
sandpaper or electric sander
A calculator (we recommend trying this calculator and online visualizer to get the measurements right).
Step 1: Planning
Paneling a wall is an exciting DIY task, but before you begin, it’s important to first plan and prep your wall.
“Like most DIY jobs, preparation is key to getting the look you want,” says Chris O’Boyle, trading director for Everyday Repair and Maintenance (EDRM) for Homebase. House Beautiful UK, ‘Start with a clear idea of what your panel walls will look like by sketching them down in a notebook. This way, you will stay on track and know how many panels you need to complete your project.’
HB’s tip… Instagram is a great place to find inspiration if you’re stuck for ideas. Use the hashtags #wallpanelling and #wallpanellingideas to see what other people are doing. We recommend that you do not rush your paneling. If you can’t decide which style to go for, push your project back until you decide.
Step 2: Measure your wall
When paneling a wall, you need to measure how many MDF lumber pieces you need (home retailers like Homebase, Wicks and B&Q, or your local lumber dealer will stock different types of lumber). Once you’ve decided how much you need, it’s time to measure your walls. This is one of the hardest parts of paneling, so take your time until you can get it fixed.
• Use your tape measure to find the full width and height of the wall you are deciding to install the panels on.
• Decide how many panels you want. Some prefer paneling only half the wall, while others prefer the full paneled look.
• Remember to take into account the top and base panels (frame) as well as the vertical and horizontal panels.
‘It may sound obvious, but make sure you measure your walls accurately. To make sure your panels are even and give you a neat finish, write down all your measurements clearly and carefully, down to the last millimeter,’ says Chris.
And, always double-check your measurements to make sure it will fit like a glove. ‘Measure your wall. And then measure it again, just to be sure,’ advises Craig. ‘It is important that your measurements are correct and that your panels are the same size and fit the space perfectly. Find the distance between each panel – this will help you determine how many panels you will need.’
Step 3: Cut the Panels
Now it’s time to cut the panels, depending on the size of your wall, or how many panels you want to make. You can either cut the panels yourself or ask a professional (B&Q will cut MDF wood for free, depending on how many you have).
‘Using the saw and miter box at a 90-degree angle, carefully cut out the panels that will be placed horizontally according to measurement,’ explains experts at Richard Burbridge. ‘Repeat this process for all vertical panels, then lightly sand the ends until smooth.’
Step 4: Sand and Smooth Your Walls
Next, it’s time to sand and smooth your walls. You can either use sandpaper or an electric sander if you have it on hand.
‘Prepare your walls before you attach them by sanding the panels and smoothing them out. This removes any lumps or bumps that might otherwise be visible,’ says Chris.
Step 5: Attach the Panels to Your Wall
Start by adding the frame. First with the base panel, then with the top. Place your panel on the marked wall and use a laser level to make sure the panel is straight. Apply strong adhesive to the back and apply to the wall – make sure to press it down firmly and leave to dry.
Continue adding vertical panels first, followed by horizontal panels.
Craig recommends affixing the panel to the wall using No More Nails Glue, but for added security and hold, Richard Burbridge recommends using both nails and adhesive.
Tip: Use a pipe and cable detector before nailing or drilling into any wall. If you’re not sure it’s safe to nail into your wall, choose a stronger adhesive instead.
Step 6: Fill in Any Gaps
Once you’ve applied the panels to your walls, go over them with decorators to repair any unsightly gaps, cracks or holes. You may need to fill in some of the sides, depending on whether any gaps are visible (don’t worry as you can cover it up with paint).
‘If some of your panels are a few millimeters smaller, don’t panic, just fill them with polyfilla before sanding to create a smooth, seamless joint,’ explains Craig.
Once the fill is done, slide it down to complete the look.
Step 7: Paint Your Wall Panel
Now it’s time for the fun part! Before painting, make sure the adhesive, decorator’s caulk, and filler (if used) is completely dry and set.
To achieve an Insta-worthy look, choose scene-stealing shades of inky blue, green or blush pink. Scroll through some of our favorite looks for inspiration below…
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