Monday, 25 October 2021

How to panel a wall: Step-by-step DIY tutorial


How to add wall panelling to a room and transform a space. Full DIY tutorial on how to panel a wall on a tight budget.

A refresh in our bedroom has been a long time coming. It was one of the first rooms we redecorated when we moved in, 7 years ago. And while there was nothing wrong with it really, other than the wallpaper starting to look a bit grubby, it was definitely time for a freshen up. 

I knew that I wanted to tackle some panelling in here - I’ve previously put some up in our downstairs loo and still love it three years on. 

So here's a step-by-step tutorial showing exactly how I installed DIY panelling in our bedroom - and while the process initially takes some Maths, I promise it's easier than you might think...

Measuring your wall
The tricky bit. I'm not gonna lie I measured and remeasured at least four times as I don’t trust my Maths! To start with I measured the width of the wall - which is 256cm wide. I wanted the panelling to sit above my headboard, and decided with a height of 140cm. 

I then worked out how wide I wanted each of my mdf pieces to be - I’ve gone for 6cm wide. You'll place one at either end of the wall, meaning I would be left with 244cm to fill with the 'panels'. 

How to add wall panelling to a room and transform a space. Full DIY tutorial on how to panel a wall on a tight budget.

I knew I wanted the middle ‘panel’ to be central to my headboard, meaning I had to work outwards from there. 

I decided a total of five panels would look good, meaning I was left with 49cm for each space, including the 6cm for the mdf strips. This all took a little while to decide what would look best, so to help I stuck post-it notes onto the wall to determine the position of each mdf strip, and played around with the layout until I was happy. 

How to add wall panelling to a room and transform a space. Full DIY tutorial on how to panel a wall on a tight budget.

After lots of calculations I went with the below measurements: 

How to add wall panelling to a room and transform a space. Full DIY tutorial on how to panel a wall on a tight budget.

Ordering the mdf
I decided I didn’t want to faff about with power tools so started investigating whether I could get hold of mdf strips made to measure. After a lot of digging around, and one delivery from a different company that didn’t show up, I found a business called Cut My Plastic, who cut all my mdf strips to the correct size, meaning all I had to do was put them up. Absolute game changer! 

My five ‘panels’, meant I needed a total of six horizontal pieces of mdf, and one vertical piece going across the top. The vertical pieces I needed were too long for the longest Cut My Plastic could do, so I divided my 256cm measurement in two, and ordered four 128cm pieces of mdf, two for the vertical strips, and two for the ledge, which I had cut to a slightly thinner width of 5cm. 

Just in case this is helpful, below is my full order: 

6x 6cm wide MDF strips at 140cm long and 9mm thickness (vertical strips) = £14.64
2x 6cm wide MDF strips at 128cm long and 9mm thickness (horizontal strips) = £4.62
2x 5cm wide MDF strips at 128cm long and 9mm thickness (ledge) = £4.00 
Total price (including VAT & shipping): £28.21

Installing the panelling
First things first, mark on the wall where each piece of mdf will go. By doing this, you don’t have to measure everytime, and can make changes as you go. Use a pencil so you can rub out your marks and redo.

How to add wall panelling to a room and transform a space. Full DIY tutorial on how to panel a wall on a tight budget.

How to add wall panelling to a room and transform a space. Full DIY tutorial on how to panel a wall on a tight budget.

Next onto the fun bit: sticking! Start with the two end pieces, and get them onto the wall at either end. Apply No More Nails to the back of the mdf liberally, and stick to the wall firmly. I found it helpful to lightly stick to the wall, and then use a spirit level to make sure it’s straight, before pushing firmly to stick the mdf to the wall. Then work your way along the wall, sticking up all your vertical pieces. 

How to add wall panelling to a room and transform a space. Full DIY tutorial on how to panel a wall on a tight budget.

Next, repeat the same process for the horizontal pieces. Again, keep your spirit level close to hand to check everything is straight. 

Adding a ledge
Finally, I added a ledge to the top of the panelling. For this I used another piece of mdf, measuring the full width of the wall but this time slightly smaller at 50mm wide. I applied no more nails to the thin edge which will fit to the wall, as well as along the top part of the panelling already on the wall. Again, stick firmly and use your spirit level to check it’s straight.

You might find there are gaps once you’re all done - this is probably because not all floors/walls are dead straight! You can fix this in the next step: caulking. Apply decorators caulk along the edges of all the mdf to fill the gap between the wood and the wall. If you have any larger gaps, you can fill this with wood filler. 

How to add wall panelling to a room and transform a space. Full DIY tutorial on how to panel a wall on a tight budget.

Prep and paint
Start by priming the mdf with wood primer. Once dry you’ll then be able to start painting with your chosen colour - mine is ‘Moonstone Grey’ by Craig and Rose in Interior wall and woodwork paint. Paint across the mdf and wall at the same time, and give it as many coats as you need. I then painted the top half of the wall in ‘White Chiffon’ by Dulux. 

How to add wall panelling to a room and transform a space. Full DIY tutorial on how to panel a wall on a tight budget.

How to add wall panelling to a room and transform a space. Full DIY tutorial on how to panel a wall on a tight budget.

How to add wall panelling to a room and transform a space. Full DIY tutorial on how to panel a wall on a tight budget.

And you’re all done! I'll share another post next week with all the details on the accessories I've chosen in here too. 

How to add wall panelling to a room and transform a space. Full DIY tutorial on how to panel a wall on a tight budget.

How to add wall panelling to a room and transform a space. Full DIY tutorial on how to panel a wall on a tight budget.

How to add wall panelling to a room and transform a space. Full DIY tutorial on how to panel a wall on a tight budget.

Is this something you'd like to tackle in your home? 

Thanks for reading, 
Sam Xx

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