How to Install Beadboard

By now we all know that I’m obsessed with adding details to walls. Panel moulding, shiplap, wallpaper, and now we can add beadboard to that list. I eventually got on board (haha!) with enjoying beadboard installation predominately because I love the look of the narrow wood planks lined up with the sweetest little ridge in between. Installing beadboard is simple in theory but holy smokes it is heavy!!! I did opt to use 6 ft high boards which – my own doing – but it turned out so beautifully that I don’t think I’d have it any other way in this bathroom. The beadboard created visual interest on the wall, draws your eyes up. While I could. Have gone all the way up, we only have 8 ft ceilings so breaking this up so high up the wall makes the room seem taller. Okay, I’m done swooning over Sloane’s bathroom for now let’s get to the purpose of today: I’ll run you through the pros and cons I found when installing beadboard as well as some instructions for how to install it.

beadboard on this beautifully upgraded bathroom with gold mirrors and wall sconces.

The Pros and Cons of Beadboard 

Would I use beadboard again over some other wall detailing? Good question! If it suited the space, I absolutely would. I just might consider getting my arm strength up before opting for such height. 

Cons of Beadboard:

  • Can be quite heavy, especially if you’re going tall. As I mentioned I went for 6 ft high boards, and they are 4 ft wide. So they were heavy. The panels I got are up to 8 ft high. Given my current arm strength, I’m going to call this a con. 
  • You must be precise with your measurements and cuts. A big board means not a lot of room for error when cutting out the electrical box, light switches, or anything else. It’s not like shiplap where 4 inches of your wall can easily be replaced – with beadboard, you’re getting a whole new board. Measure 800 times and cut once. 
  • Liquid nails are recommended. Truth be told, I did not glue the beadboard to the walls, I made sure I was securing the panels in studs but It’s probably not a bad idea to use liquid nails or some adhesive. I think I had adhesive PTSD from my mirror removal.  
  • Patience is required to paint in the grooves.
beadboard on this beautifully upgraded bathroom with gold mirrors and wall sconces.

Pros of Beadboard

  • You can cover a lot of ground with one board and provided your mistakes are limited, you can get this installed relatively quickly.
  • It’s generally less expensive than other options (such as shiplap).
  • It’s got a lot of charm.

Overall it seems like there are way more cons, and although the pros list is short and sweet, I would seriously use it again – quick, expensive, and charming are all points that rank quite highly in my books. If these points rank highly for you too, come learn how to install it.

painting beadboard

Tools and Material You Need to Install Beadboard

Installing beadboard and making multiple cuts along a vanity.

How to Install Beadboard

Each room will be slightly different so for this breadboard installation tutorial, I’ll run you through what I did and the suggestions I have for how and where to start.

  • My first step is always to paint before it goes on the wall. I’m a messy painter, and I just make a mess in the garage instead of on the bathroom floor. I do a final coat after everything is installed, but I really like to be able to get into the grooves and get those hard to reach spots I wouldn’t be able to get normally (aka behind the toilet)
  • Whenever I start a wall, I generally move left to right. So I started in a logical place to me (next to the door). I measured the first width of the wall I needed (just under 4 ft) and trimmed it down to the correct width using my circular saw and guide.
  • Then I measured where my light switch was. I traced it out on the beadboard, used my drill to drill pilot holes for my jigsaw to fit it and then, using a guide (a straight edge clamped onto the beadboard), I made the appropriate cuts.
  • After that, I moved to the next wall and continued the process for each subsequent panel. I also had my laser level set up the whole time so I could easily know that all of my boards were the same height. A few were off (given they were cut at the store and not by me, I wanted to double-check them).
  • Once I had the room laid out and my cuts made, I used a stud finder and 1.5 inch nails to secure the boards in place through the studs. Before nailing the boards in place, if you wanted, I would add liquid nails/construction adhesive to your panels to make sure these panels aren’t going anywhere. FYI – I did not glue my panels and they aren’t going anywhere – I monkey-ed off them for a while to double-check.
  • I then added my top cap!
  • That’s it! Fill, sand, caulk and away you go with your newly installed beadboard! Enjoy it
A bathroom pictured with art, a big mirror from a Canadian home decor store, towels, and a sconce