Our front living room needed a little pizazz. It was painted a blah builder’s beige and lacked a personality. I decided to add board and batten wainscot to the walls.
Here was the room before…
I’m really into gray paint lately and I wanted to do something a bit dramatic. Since I knew the wainscotting was going to extend 2/3 of the way up the wall and be painted bright white, I decided to use a dark gray paint on the top 1/3 of the wall. I chose a Sherwin-Williams paint called Gauntlet Gray. It was exactly what I wanted.
First, I taped off the room to get an idea how high I wanted the wainscott to go. Since the room is 9 feet tall, I decided to extend the wainscott about 6 feet up. I painted the top 1/3 of the room gauntlet gray and the bottom 2/3 a bright white in a semi-gloss. This matched my existing trim and molding in the house. The walls are relatively smooth so I felt I would be able to apply the wainscotting directly over the drywall.
My original hope was to be able to remove the existing baseboard, trim the top, tapered edge off and reuse it. It seemed like a great way to save money and time. However, I soon realized that the baseboard was only 1/2-inch deep and the board I was going to use for the wainscott is 3/4 -inch deep. If I used the existing baseboard, the wainscott would have overhanged the baseboard by a 1/4-inch and looked awful.
I was able to find many tutorials on-line on how to install similar board and batten wainscotting. I read several blogs and watched YouTube videos to get an idea of how I wanted to proceed. I started by adding 1 x 6 select boards around the room as baseboards. I used a cordless brad nailer and 2-inch brad nails to attach the baseboards to the wall. I was able to re-use the shoe molding (quarter round) from the original baseboard.
Once that was completed, I drew a line about 6-feet up from the floor and using a level, drew a line around the wall to align my top board, also a 1 x 6. To attach this board I used Liquid Nails paneling adhesive and 2-inch brad nails. I used a stud finder to make sure the brad nails aligned with the wall studs.
After the top rail was installed, I added a ledge above it using a 1 x 3 select board. I used my miter saw to make 45-degree cuts in the corners, but if I were going to do it again, I would probably simply make flush cuts at the corners. The ledge is attached to the top rail using Liquid Nails and 2-inch brad nails.
I tried makeing 45-degree cuts in cove molding for the corners but they did not look quite right. My husband and I took a crash-course on YouTube on making coping cuts and he (the patient one) made awsome looking coped cuts to the cove on the interior corners.
The next step was to add a middle rail that would help break up the vertical boards. I chose to use a 1 x 4 for this horizontal rail to match the vertical boards I was going to install. I simply eyeballed a height for the middle rail that I thought looked appealing and measured around the room, ensuring my line was straight using a level. I used the same method to install the middle rail that I did to install the top rail.
After the middle rail was installed, the next task was to decide on the spacing for the vertical boards. The determining factor for the spacing in my room was the placement of the wall switches and outlets. I did not want to have to trim my boards around outlets. After a bit of trial and error, I found that 16-inches between the boards looked right and would ensure I missed all the switches and outlets in the room. I cut a scrap piece of wood to 16-inches and used it to measure between the boards as I installed them one at a time. I double-checked all my measurements with a level before adhering the boards to the wall with Liquid Nails and 2-inch brad nails. All my cuts were made using an electric miter saw.
Once all the wood was placed, I filled all the nail holes with painter’s spackle and caulked all the edges, corners and spaces with paintable caulk.
The last step before priming the wood was a thorough sanding off all the wood and spackle. We used electric orbital sanders. This was loud, messy and annoying. To be honest, I hated every moment of it! Luckily my husband helped and it went twice as fast. We hung sheets over the openings to the room and it helped a great deal to contain most of the dust to the room we were in. Once we were happy with the finish, we vaccumed, mopped and wiped down every surface in the room to be sure we had removed most of the dust. This was my second-least favorite part of the project!
Whew! I was finally ready to prime and paint the wood. It was exciting to begin to see the project take shape.
We applied two coats of primer to the bare wood before we painted it with a semi-gloss, white paint.
Like all my projects, it ended up taking longer and being more work than I anticipated, but well worth the effort!
- Tape measure
- Miter saw
- Coping saw
- Electric sander
- Caulk gun
- Nail gun
- Safety glasses
- Ear protection
- Primer and Paint (and paint materials, i.e. painter’s tape, roller, paint tray, good quality brush)
- 3 tubes Paintable caulk
- Spackle and Spackling knife
- 2 tubes Liquid Nails Paneling adhesive
- 2-inch brad nails
- sanding sheets
- approx. 32-feet of 11/16-inch cove molding
- Ten- 1 x 6 x 8 select boards
- Fifteen- 1 x 4 x 8 select boards
- Six- 1 x 3 x 8 select boards