How to Install Beaded Board

Change the look of a room in a weekend -- or your whole house in a few weekends -- with easy-to-find beaded board. Here's how to install beaded board.


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Found in a variety of home styles—traditional and cottage style, to name a few—beaded board, also called wainscoting, can add character and welcome detail to a range of rooms. And adding beaded board isn't that complicated of a project, either. With a few key tools and some essential steps, you can transform your home. Here's how to install beaded board.

Establish the Beaded Board's Top Line

Floors of homes of all ages tend to settle and shift, even by fractions of an inch. Those small increments can impact both the visual appearance and the installation of beaded board. To counteract any house shifting, you'll establish a level line at the top of the beaded board.

Here's how to start: Pick a side wall and measure up from the floor to the intended height of the beaded board. That's your starting spot; use a level and a chalk line (not a measurement from the floor) to mark a continuous level line around the room.

Cut and Adhere Beaded Board

The next step in how to install beaded board is to cut individual pieces of the material, which is sold as large sheets of paneling, to fit around the room. Cut the paneling piece by piece using a circular saw. You will also need to use a hole saw to make any openings needed, such as for electrical outlets.

Work your way to install beaded-board pieces from your starting spot. Once one piece is cut, apply construction adhesive to the back of the beaded-board paneling piece. Then, place on the wall, using the continuous top level line as your guide. Attach the next piece, matching the groove and tongue of adjacent pieces as you go. Use a brad nailer and nail from the center edge of each piece out to the corners.

Finish Your Beaded-Board Installation with Trim or Chair Railing/Baseboard

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After you've attached all pieces of beaded board, you can add trim to the top and bottom to give it a finished look. Many homeowners finish with simple quarter-round trim, but more intricate assemblies work as well. You can also purchase prepainted trim, or paint it yourself.

Measure the top and bottom of the beaded board and cut trim pieces to match. Miter any corners and install the top and then the bottom of the trim pieces, using finishing nails. Fill the nail holes and any gaps with caulk.


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