Installing Bead Board Paneling: How to make a simple job more difficult

Adding bead board paneling isn’t rocket science to be sure.  It’s a relatively easy thing to do.  But if you’re like me you have to complicate everything.  Here’s how I did it.

First of all, do not empty out the room.   Make sure you have about a gazillion things in your way before starting your project.  Tripping over pieces of furniture, piles of molding, and power tools definitely make it far more interesting.  Besides, you’re far too impatient to get started on this project to bother trifling with things like giving yourself enough space to work.

Next, you must also make sure that you don’t have all the supplies that you need from the start.  Otherwise you’ll eliminate all that necessary exercise going up and down two flights of stairs.

For instance:

Run to the basement to get your trusted saber saw and realize that the blade you have on there is far too dull and won’t cut melted butter.  Then spend the next hour trying to remember where you have the extra blades. (Because you KNOW you have extras…somewhere.) This requires a lot of searching which encompasses three floors and the garage.  Carry the newly-found blade upstairs only to realize that you forgot a screwdriver to release the old blade.  Run back downstairs to get a screwdriver and then back upstairs only to find out that the last blade was installed by Magic Dave and he is about a gazillion times stronger than you are.  Threaten (under your breath ‘cuz the window is open and the neighbors might hear you swearing!) to give up the entire project just as the screw releases its grip.  Decide to carry on.

Make sure you make your cuts as close as possible to your newly acquired and much coveted “blue fog” bedspread and vintage sheets.  Thus ensuring another task…laundry.

Be ready to make a second cut because sure as heck you didn’t get the cut right the first time, even thought you measured…twice.

Be prepared to make a third cut.

And then a fourth.

And maybe even a fifth or sixth because there is nothing straight about a 92-year-old wall.

Be grateful for the third and fourth (possibly fifth and sixth ) cuts because now your cuts are straighter than your first two because you have perfected your technique.  (yeah, right!)

See how 16 cuts on one board can make a much bigger mess than just one cut?  That’s right–you DO want to be ankle-deep in sawdust by the end of the day.

Before you start gluing and nailing your bead board paneling to the wall, you need to measure a level line on your wall where the top of your bead board will be.  I have two chalk-line tools that I looked everywhere for, but couldn’t find.

Here’s another make-this-job-harder tip: lose your tools and waste time looking for them.

What should have taken a couple minutes to pull a chalk line across the wall, took me another hour to measure several places along the wall, mark it and then take a straight edge to mark a line on the wall.  You’re gonna need this line, especially if you have 92-year-old wonky walls like I do.  This small piece of wall was the hardest part of the whole project just because of trying to get the paneling to level up on this line.  There were big gaps and spaces on either side of the board.  I’ll show those to you tomorrow when I discuss trim.

Now you’re ready for liquid nails and your handy-dandy brad gun.  Another make-this-take-longer-than-necessary tip: Start with just ONE tube of Liquid Nails thus ensuring your need to go back and get at least 4 more!

Cut the tip off of the Liquid Nail tube.  Then discover the use of this pointy object hanging off the end of your caulking gun.  Use it to poke a hole in the tube.

Spread the glue as stated in the directions.  Mine said 12″ zig-zags staying an inch away from the sides to avoid glue seeping out the edges.  Now, if you really want to make this job more difficult then, by all means put glue all the way to the edges, let it ooze out and then have a new mess to clean.  Ooozing glue…that should be fun…and sticky!

Now you need to nail the paneling to the wall to keep it up there while the glue dries.  I have lathe and plaster walls, so I didn’t feel it necessary to find the studs to nail into.  (I even asked the experts at to confirm).  If you have regular drywall, you’re definitely going to want to find the studs.  Good luck with that.  No matter how many different types of stud-finders I’ve purchased, the only stud I’ve found is Mr. Wonderful.  So, I’m no help to you on that front.

This is where it got really aggravating for me.  A much-needed spring came flying out of the back of my not-very-old staple/brad gun rendering it useless.  I hadn’t even nailed one board up at this point.  Since I already had glue on the back of this piece, I had to nail it up with a hammer and small brads.  Then there was a two-day delay in finding another brad/staple gun.

I finally came home with this gem!

She hums and purrs and so far…never jams!  And the best part is, no parts come flying off!

I started on the longest wall and worked my way around the room.  This is what it should look like when you’re done and before you add the trim.  I’m saving that for tomorrow’s lesson.  In which you will, once again, learn from my mistakes.

Bye from the bungalow,




Linking up to : The Dedicated House , At the Picket Fence



  1. Janice H says:

    Hey Jean, that looks great so far! We just did the same thing in our powder room. Funny thing (my husband didn’t think it was funny) the walls in our 35 year old house don’t seem to be square either! Love the results though, just wish I could have convinced my DH to use a wide floorboard like yours…

    • Yeah, it’s not exactly funny haha when your walls don’t square up, huh? Thing is, I’ll take these un-square well-built walls over new construction any day!

  2. kathleen says:

    LOL! Isn’t that the only way to work? I am currently ripping off deer wallpaper and painting… I sit here in the room with piles around me. I am working from one wall to the other, moving stuff in between to get to each wall… Normal operation for me, too! No drop clothes, etc.

    However, I don’t think I would be sawing in the room. I am too anal for that part.

    It’s looking amazing. I thought about doing bead board instead of painstakingly taking the paper off, but I see my work is a little cleaner than what would have been required and I would have had to take everything (or more than I did) to do bead board. Heck, I’m not moving the computer cabinet until the house sells, until then, no one will see that part of the wall with it’s deer wallpaper, yet!!!!

    Good luck… can’t wait to see the finished project!

    • Oh, deer! I don’t think I’d be too keen on deer wallpaper. Yeah, the sawing in the room….that happened only because all of the wainscoting was already upstairs…two flights…and I really didn’t want all that exercise. I mean, I gotta keep the backside ample, ya know?!! 🙂

  3. I am talking up doing wainscoting in this house. too. so please continue with the what not to do’s. I’m sure hubby and I will find even more what-nots to add to the list!!! LOL! Yours is going to be so lovely!!

    • haha! Well, I’m really good in the what-not-to-do department! I just wish I had a little clearer vision for how to decorate this room. Again, very good at wingin’ it…not plannin’ it!

  4. You are so cute! I LOVE your sense of humor. Your beadboard trim looks fabulous! Keep up the great work!

  5. I love your adventure. It sounds so much like something I would do, though I haven’t (yet) been brave enough to tackle something this big. Its on my list though, so I hope I’ll learn from your mistakes! Look forward to the rest of the story!.

    • Sometimes I over-analyze how hard a job is going to be and never start…I have no idea why I just dove off the deep end on this one, but I’m glad i did!

  6. Diane Mansil says:

    Ah, you and I are sisters. I’m sure of it. My biggest hold up in finishing any of my projects tends to be time…time spent looking for this tool or that, time spent moving this out of the way so I can work there and moving all of it over here so I can work here. And of course, time spent fixing what I just did slightly wrong. Your project is looking great and the new and gorgeous bedding will look a little more comfortable after you wash it. LOL

    • Yeah, what is with that?!! I tend to think of myself as an organized person, but dang…never can find stuff I KNOW I have! I’ll be honest, right after I took that picture, I removed the bedding and the sawing took place farther away from the bed…i’m only slightly careless! 🙂 I’m so glad you can relate!

  7. It’s just perfect! Thank you for sharing this at my Make it Pretty Monday party at The Dedicated House. Hope to see your prettiness again on Monday. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  8. That. Was. Hilarious. Totally laughed the whole way through. Thanks for keeping it real 🙂

    • Deb Friddle says:

      Thanks for the laugh…I can totally relate. My house is 150+ yrs and there is not a square it. It gets very frustrating.

  9. Krysti Masters says:

    Hi Jean, I live in a very old house also with plaster walls. I tried putting beadboard up in the kitchen, when I went to shoot the nails in they popped back out and took a chunk of the beadboard with it. These walls are like cement. What should I do? I did put liquid nails on beadboard, just cant put nails in to hold it up til it drys.

    • Krysti, sorry to hear it’s not working for ya. I’m not sure what I would do if the nails won’t take. Perhaps get some 2 x 4’s and wedge them against the glued beadboard until it dries? I have some bouncing when it comes to my walls, also, but with the nail gun, it would just shoot right in and hold. Sorry you’re having problems….I hope this helps and let me know how it turns out, please.


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