How to Install Beadboard

White wainscoting against a beige wall.
  • 5-8 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 250-500
What You'll Need
Stud finder
Circular saw (or table saw)
Nail gun
Carpenter’s glue
Power drill
Utility knife
Laser level

Installing beadboard, also referred to as wainscoting, is a great way to add a little decorative flare to a room, but it also helps protect walls in high traffic areas, such as hallways or pantries. Although installing beadboard may seem like a daunting task, it's a fairly straightforward process that the average DIYer can knock out in a few hours. Here are seven easy steps on how to install beadboard in your home.

Step 1 - Measurements

Someone measuring a wall with a measuring tape and pencil.

Take careful measurements of the walls so that you know how much beadboard to purchase. These measurements will also be helpful when you purchase molding. Start by determining how high you want the beadboard to rest. A good starting place is anywhere between 32 and 36 inches. Remember to leave some room for the upper molding trim.

Step 2 - Remove the Baseboard

Someone removing molding from a wall.

Removing the baseboard will help ensure a level install for the beadboard. Using a utility knife, score the top of your old baseboard to help separate it from the wall. A small crowbar works great at prying baseboards loose, though you want to be careful if you plan on reusing them. If you are using new baseboards, some companies make them with special notches in the back where the beadboard can easily rest.

Step 3 - Cut the Beadboard

Cutting the beadboard is easily the most challenging part of this project. Start by cutting beadboard for larger sections of the wall. Depending on how you plan on finishing the beadboard, you may want to hide the seams by cutting the ends at an angle. Inside corners should be cut at 45-degree angles. Don’t worry about the outside corners as these will be covered by molding strips.

Step 4 - Making Cut-Outs

You will need to make cut-outs if the beadboard runs across any phone jacks, electrical outlets, or plumbing. Start by measuring the location of the obstruction and transfer those measurements to the beadboard. A jigsaw blade is great for making these cuts, but you need to first drill out a hole inside the area that will be cut. The drill bit should be larger than the blade of the jigsaw. Once the hole is made, insert the jigsaw and carefully cut the material to fit around the obstacle.

Step 5 - Installing Beadboard

Use a laser level to draw a chalk line for the desired height of the boards. If you do not have a laser level, you can measure equal distances from the floor and use a level to install the beadboards correctly. It’s also a good idea to mark the locations of studs before you set the boards. You can find studs pretty easily by buying a stud finder at your local hardware store. With everything in place, start by applying a generous amount of glue on each panel and push them firmly into place. Make sure each piece is level and that you have enough clearance for the baseboards before nailing into the studs. Repeat this process until the all of the wainscoting is in place.

Step 6 - Install Molding

Molding should be installed on the top of the beadboard and around any outside corners. Use the same process as you did when installing the beadboards. Once the top molding is secure, install the baseboards with some glue and nails.

Step 7 - Finishing

The last step in installing beadboard is to caulk and paint. If you are installing the beadboard in a bathroom, you want to make sure all of the seams are properly caulked to prevent water from getting behind the boards and ruining the wall. After all the necessary caulking is finished, you can add wood filler to hide seams. Once that has dried, paint the beadboard to your desired color and allow time to dry.