How To Install Beadboard In A Bathroom
It’s been a few weeks since I shared an update about our basement bathroom. That’s because I’ve been hard at work, behind-the-scenes, working on the space. Last I left you, I had an electrician and plumber out to move a few things around for the new layout of the space. You can read those updates here.
Today, I’m sharing my latest DIY project – adding beadboard to the walls down there!
Beadboard Throughout My Home
I’ve always been a fan of beadboard. It originated in the 1880s and was mostly found in Victorian homes. Back then, it was made of tongue and groove planks that fit together like floorboards. Today, it often comes in paneling sheets. You’ll often see it being used as wainscoting where it covers the bottom one-third of a wall.
I’ve used it in two areas of my home – our main bathroom and behind the TV in our kitchen. It adds texture and interest to a space and it’s budget-friendly. The beadboard in our home was installed by our contractor, so I never learned how to install beadboard myself. Until this project!
Beadboard Installation – Project Supplies
Here’s what you’ll want to grab to install beadboard in your own home. I always like to gather all of the materials and supplies the day before I begin a big project like this. That way, I can wake up and get right to work.
- Chair Rail
- Baseboard & Shoe
- Circular Saw
- Paintable Caulk (white)
- Liquid Nails
- Brad Nailer
- Caulk Gun
- Painter’s Putty
- Compound Miter Saw
- Tape Measure
- Spirit Level
- Stud Finder
- Oscillating Multi-Tool
- Safety Gear
- Outlet Box Extender
Tips to Install Beadboard
While I’ve done a number of woodworking projects, this one was definitely new for me. I’m not gonna lie, it was a tad tough to carry and install the large sheets by myself. So, if you can enlist the help of a buddy, go for it! It’s a doable project solo, but it might be a tad easier if you have someone to help you carry these big boards!
Buy Your Beadboard
I purchased these 4×8 beadboard panels from Home Depot and had them cut the length to 62″ in store. This saved me time with fewer cuts at home, and also ensured that we could fit the panels into the back of our SUV! I had to have Finn come with me to the store because when the boards were eight feet long, they were heavy as hell!
Mark Your Studs
The first order of business was to mark all of the studs on the wall. As mentioned, these sheets are heavy so you want to make sure that you’re nailing them into studs when it comes time to install. I marked these all around the room using my stud finder to make life easier later on.
Draw a Level Line
With the studs marked, I figured out the height for my beadboard. My boards were cut to a height of 62″ tall. Nothing is level in our bathroom, so I figured out the lowest area in the space and marked 62 inches up from the ground. I then used my spirit level to draw a level line around the entire room. If your floors aren’t perfectly level, you’ll want to use this method, instead of marking 62″ off the ground on each wall. This will ensure that everything is straight.
One more thing to note. I knew that the bottom portion of the beadboard would be covered with the baseboard, so it didn’t matter to me if there was a small gap near the floor, since it would eventually be covered up. If you’re foregoing the baseboards, then your length cuts will need to be much more precise.
Install Beadboard With Liquid Nails & Brad Nailer
To install that first panel, I covered the back with liquid nails and then nailed it into the studs using my brad nailer. I also added some nails to the end of each board even if there wasn’t a stud. For these, be sure to point your nails up and down at an angle so they “lock” behind the wall for a secure hold.
The most difficult part of the installation is making sure the board stays level as you attach it. Again, this would be easier with a buddy who holds it in place while you nail it in. I used my foot to prop up the bottom as I went. Use what ya got, right?!
Use a Circular Saw
Okay, onto the “scariest” part of this project – using the circular saw. We’ve had a circular saw for quite some time and I will admit that I usually have Finn make the cuts with this tool. I can use the miter saw all day long without a problem, but the circular saw has always intimidated me! I knew this project would be the perfect chance to get over my fears and figure this thing out!
Creating the proper cutting setup is key when using the circular saw. For this, I had a long folding table to hold the panel in place. The circular saw is a wonderful tool to cut the width of the panels. To get a straight cut, you’ll need to use a straight edge or a straight piece of scrap wood. I had some leftover shiplap from this project that I was able to clamp down to the beadboard to make my straight edge. I also added some heavy things to the middle of the shiplap board (like the Roof Melt in the above photo) to keep the straight edge in place for the entire length of the cut.
Before you start cutting, you need to measure the distance between the edge of the circular saw and the blade. For me, it was 1.5 inches. I had to add this to all of my measurements. This is key! Also, adjust the depth of your blade based on the depth of your material. My paneling is really thin, so I had a shallow depth set on my circular saw. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to read the manual with your tool and get comfortable with it before you jump right in.
When it comes to the actual cutting, go slow, stay confident, and don’t stop the cut. Mistakes happen when you’re timid and nervously cutting. Stay strong, hold it firmly, and go for it. Also, safety gear is key! After a few cuts on the circular saw, my confidence in using this tool climbed! I’m telling ya, sometimes it just takes practice.
Multi-Tool For Tricky Cuts
So my first wall of beadboard was up. Yay! Now, onto the vanity wall, where I had lots of tricky cuts to make to account for the two sconces and plumbing. For these, I ended up using my oscillating multi-tool. This thing comes in handy all the time around here!
Of course, this involved some math (not my favorite) to figure out the exact placement for my cuts. I reviewed my numbers multiple times before making my cuts, just to ensure they were good to go.
I was always a tad nervous about bringing my big cut sheet to the wall, but it was the best feeling ever when it would glide right over those areas and into place. Score!
One more tip for you. If you have wall outlets, you’ll want to bring them forward so they lay on top of the beadboard. For this, I like to use these outlet box extenders. Just pull the box through these and you can then install it on top of your material. Be sure to turn the power off when you do this!
Finish The Top With Chair Rail
It took me about 4-5 hours just to get all of the beadboard up in here. If I did it again, I could probably shave off an hour or two, now that I’m more comfortable with the circular saw. I would give yourself plenty of time to get it done.
The next day, I added some chair rail to the top of the beadboard to finish off the edge. I had this chair rail left over from Ellis’ nursery (where I added this picture frame molding), and I decided to use it in the basement bathroom. I’m all about using the scraps we have and I’m a bit of a hoarder with wood and trim around here.
In my search for more chair rail in our house, I had to crawl into our crawlspace and ended up ripping my favorite leggings on a screw. Ugh. I loved these leggings! I now have a big hole in my booty. Oh well, that’s what happens with DIY!
Miter Your Chair Rail Edges
I cut the chair rail using a miter saw. For these pieces, you’ll want to miter the corners so they fit together nicely in the corners. I placed the chair rail upright on my saw and set the angle to 45 degrees to make these cuts. The chair rail was then attached to the wall with liquid nails and my brad nailer.
Re-Install Baseboard & Shoe
When our contractor drywalled our basement, he added new drywall and baseboard to the bathroom. I ripped it out during demo, but saved it in our storage room, knowing that it would someday be time to add it again. I had to pull all of the nails out of it, but it was worth it to re-use these perfectly cut pieces.
You’ll notice that I only added the baseboards and shoe to two of the four walls in here. That’s because I’m waiting for the vanity to be installed before I add the baseboard to those walls. I want it to butt up to the vanity perfectly, so it will be a final touch to the space.
Fill Nail Holes & Caulk Seams
Yay for making it to the finishing stages with this beadboard project! I filled nail holes using painter’s putty and caulked every single seam with my favorite paintable caulk. Caulk finishes off any woodworking project and makes it look professional and seamless. This is not a step you want to skip!
My New Beadboard In Our Bathroom
Isn’t it cool?! I’m really proud of this one. It did take a few days of work, but I think it adds a lot to this small space. I would add this to just about any bathroom, it was so fun!
Next Up? Paint!
The fun doesn’t end here. Next up, we will be painting the beadboard. Any guesses on the color? I can’t wait to show you next week…
Catch Up On My Basement Bathroom Project
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.