Installing Beadboard Wallpaper

One of the most timeless looks in a bathroom is classic beadboard paneling.  This vintage style wall treatment dates back to the turn of the century when it grew in popularity, and the original millwork’s purpose was to protect the walls in high traffic areas.

Beadboard paneling can be applied to ceilings or walls to cover up minor cosmetic problems or simply to make your space more inviting.  Versatile beadboard works well when installed to the backs of built in bookcases or the fronts of cabinets and it can be left white or painted any color at all.  Beadboard paneling always adds informal charm to any casual or cottage style space.

Beadboard panels are traditionally made of wood or MDF, or come in prefabricated kits, but there is an easier and more economical way to achieve the same timeless look, and that is with beadboard wallpaper.


beadboard bathroom bhg 1

beadboard bathroom bhg 3

beadboard backed shelf bhg


Paintable beadboard wallpaper comes pre-pasted which makes its application easy to complete in just a few hours.  Before installing, it’s important to know how high on your wall you intend to go with the wall treatment.  Opting for somewhere between halfway and two thirds of the way up the wall traditionally looks best.

Supply list:  beadboard wallpaper, flat table to work on, primer (for new drywall, otherwise you can skip primer), large sponge, sharp scissors, level, sponge paint roller, measuring tape, chair rail, brad nailer (or brad nails and a hammer), circular saw, latex paintable caulk, paint color of choice.

1.  Measure the height of your first section and cut it off the roll. Start in a corner and lay your first piece of dry beadboard wallpaper against the wall.  Use a level to ensure accurate vertical alignment and 2.  a pencil to score the edge where you’ll install your first piece.  3.  Roll your paper inside out and dip it in your bucket of water. Once wet, unroll it on your long table with the beadboard pattern on the bottom and use a moist paint roller to spread the water across and activate the paste.  4.  Wait five minutes as recommended then apply your first piece to the wall, using the sponge to smooth out any air bubbles.

how to install beadboard wallpaper 1

Continue applying your wallpaper all around, trimming around any electrical sockets, light fixtures, etc. 5.  Once the paste has had sufficient time to bond with the wall (about 30 minutes or so) carefully trim the bottom of the beadboard wallpaper with sharp scissors.  You’ll want a finished edge on top, so measure you’re the proper length of chair rail and trim with a circular saw.

6.  Attach the chair rail to the wall with a brad nailer or with brad nails and a hammer, using a level on top to ensure it is installed perfectly horizontal.  7.   Decide how you will wrap any turns in the space such as this window. Caulk any seams or corners with latex caulking and fill the nail holes with spackling.   8.  Once the chair rail is installed, paint the wallpaper your color of choice.

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Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never wallpapered before, this is an easy DIY project that will give you the look of beadboard paneling in an afternoon!  Note that beadboard wallpaper is subject to greater wear and tear due to its pliable texture and therefore not as durable as wood or MDF paneling, so consider that fact when installing in high traffic areas where children or pets may play.

Above the beadboard wallpaper, you can paint with any color of choice, from pale to dramatic.  In my own powder bathroom (below) I chose ‘Seine’ by Valspar, a deep mushroom gray with brown undertones for rich contrast.


centsational girl powder room


A bold patterned wallpaper looks wonderful above classic beadboard and adds yet another layer of interest to the bathroom.


beadboard bathroom bhg 4


If you’re looking for the timeless appeal that beadboard brings, the use of wallpaper is one less expensive option to the traditional wood paneling.  Look for it at home improvement stores, or online at wallpaper sources such as Graham & Brown.


Happy home improvement!

kate signature


11 Responses to “ Installing Beadboard Wallpaper ”

  1. I love this! If only my condo was more traditional in style, I would totally attempt this

  2. Gorgeous! Trying to figure out where this would work best in my home!!

  3. Love this! Do you think you need to do the whole house, or could you get away with one room?

  4. Provides a great effect, and I’d be interested to see it in real life. Not available in the UK (don’t think?), but I’m pretty sure it would be a winner.



  5. Hi Katie, it depends on the look you’re going for, yes you can add beadboard to several spaces in your home if you love the style, but note the durability issue with panels v. wallpaper.

  6. I absolutely love your style of decorating. I spend a great deal of time looking at different decorating techniques and ideas but I can only appreciate them but not put them into my rooms. Any interest in helping with my downstairs. It is a huge room—-completely empty. I sold everything and have no idea what to do now. Honestly. I am at a standstill. Windows face the lake but deck above makes room look dark. Lots of space sure could use some different ideas. Help! Kathy

  7. Graham & Brown, which I’m fairly sure is UK based, carries this. In fact, I’ve always been under the impression they are the originals on this paint-able stuff, but could be wrong. I used their “Victorian” pattern in my 120 old Victorian home and it was incredible. The old plaster ceilings were horribly rough and it covered them beautifully. I ordered from them and it was very thick and heavy. I have since bought some other brands that are good, but no where as heavy as what I got from them.

    I’m getting ready to do the bead board one now but was wondering if there’s a way to paint it so that it appears lightly weathered. I don’t want to go crazy and have it look dirty or gross, just a lightly faded /worn look. Suggestions? Dry brush?

  8. I am dying to know where the beautiful green tone-on-tone paisley shower curtain came from. It is gorgeous”"

  9. Kate,

    Where is the white paisley on dark background wallpaper from in the last phot? Love it!

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