How to: DIY Wall Panelling

I have two rooms in my house that have wall panelling, and I love the difference that it has made. In fact, I love wall panelling so much that I’ve decided to write about it!

Panelled walls aren’t a new design feature.  It was traditionally used in homes to protect the walls against either rising damp, or from general wear and tear and to provide insulation.  It looks super stylish and adds character to a room, so it’s no surprise that there has been a surge in panelled walls in the last few years.  

If you don’t have them as an original feature then how could you incorporate them into you home? What styles could you choose from? Most importantly, can you successfully DIY wall panelling? 

Photo credit: @ourhomeinperryhill Fran has been fortunate to find original panelling in her hallway when renovating!

You absolutely can! I’m going to take you through some of the things to think about when considering wall panelling in your home, which styles you could choose from and how you can DIY the whole process.  

Ready? Let’s go!

Which room should I panel?

Any of them!

Ok, that may be me getting a little too excited about the prospect of wall panelling, bu you honestly can.

You may need to adapt either with the style or the extent to which you use wall panelling, but my honest opinion is that wall panelling could look great in any room.

Picture credit: @life_with_holly Jo has used wall panelling in her bathroom and I love the contrast with the pattern of the floor tiles. All of this was a DIY project.

Which style?

Let’s have a look at some styles of wall panelling to consider. This has been my favourite part – looking at all the different styles of wall panelling out there!

Parisian Style Wall Panelling

Photo credit: @houseofbeau13 I love how Carla has used this style of wall panelling in her bedroom. Super stylish!

This style appears to be the most popular style of wall panelling at the moment and is created using decorative moulding. You can vary the look because the decorative moulding varies in width and so it can be as dramatic or as subtle as you like. Sometimes it also includes a dado rail, with boxes created above and below.

I still love the wall panelling that we installed in our bedroom. We worked with the proportions of the room and decided not to have two boxes, and keep with just one.

Tongue & Groove

We used tongue and groove in our bathroom and created a small ledge above.

I have often seen this style used in bathrooms and cloakrooms, but it can look just as effective in kitchens, dining rooms and bedrooms as a feature wall. I love it when there is a peg rail above and it adds that extra something!

Photo credit: @peartreecottagelife Catherine has added tongue and groove to her cloakroom and I love the added peg rail and shelf above.

Batten & Board

Photo credit: @thejoysofstayingin Cherelle is just about to complete a bathroom renovation and I love that she has used this style of wall panelling.

This style of wall panelling often uses strips of MDF. They are often used in either as a grid, or in vertical lines equally spaced.

This style works well on one wall as a feature and can often be seen on part of a wall, either with 1/2 or 3/4 of the wall being panelled.

Photo credit: @woodsintothewoods Tash has created a fantastic feature in their bedroom and combined MDF strips with beading to add an extra layer to this style.
Photo credit: @greenbankinteriors Kirsty has used this style of wall panelling in vertical strips in her bedroom and has created a feature by not panelling the whole wall and painting it in a contrasting colour.
Picture credit: @little_victorian Charlotte has used this style of wall panelling in her bedroom and added a ledge too, which is a great extra detail.

For more help in calculating your batten and board panelling project, Hannah of @our_london_home has created an online calculator to help with the spacing of your wall panelling. Click here to go to the blog post.

Wainscoting

Picture credit: @renovatingmiltonvilla Lizzie installed this style in her hallway as part of their house renovation. It works so well in the contrasting colour and with the original Milton tiles.

Wainscoting traditionally protected the lower part of the wall, especially when properties didn’t have a damp proof course. It sits at around one-third the way up the wall and can often be seen in hallways.

This style can be achieved with MDF strips, or decorative moulding and looks great when painted in a contrasting colour to the rest of the wall.

It’s decorative and practical, all at the same time!

Abstract

You may wonder whether wall panelling could work in your home when it is not a period property. Would it look out of place?

Generally, it is good to go with the age of your property when choosing which style of wall panelling to choose but, as with most other interior decisions, it is your home and so if you love it I’m sure you can make it work!

One option to consider is a style that goes against the conventional or traditional. Below are a couple of examples of this.

Picture credit: @fiandherhouse Fi lives in a period home, but has decided to use an abstract style of wall panelling in her galley kitchen to create a feature on what would otherwise be a dead space.
Picture credit: @all_things_interior_ Antonia has created a fantastic feature in her bedroom by using this style of wall panelling. I think that by painting the wall and the panelling the same colour, it makes the effect stand out more too.

Are you inspired to try any of these styles?

Can I do it myself?

Yes! You most definitely can!

The success to wall panelling is all in the planning.  Once you have decided on your style of panelling, you need to work out how you would like it to look in the room.  

Picture credit: @sophiapearl.x Sophia has recently finished this DIY wall panelling project and I love that she has used three boxes above the fireplace. This is a great example of DIY wall panelling.

Are you going to panel all of the walls? Are you going to panel one as a feature, perhaps behind a bed? Will it be half the wall, or the full wall? How large would you like the panels to be?

Picture credit: @melanielissackinteriors Another successful DIY wall panelling project from Melanie. Her wall panelling project in 2018 is what first inspired me to try it myself. What a triumph this bedroom makeover is!

You can read all about how we did the Parisian style panelling in our bedroom with decorative moulding, and the tools that we used, by clicking here.

What helped me when planning the panelling in our bedroom, and later in our living room, is working with the proportions in the room and using masking tape to plan it out. 

Picture credit: @the_wiggleroom Alex has not only worked with the proportions of the room, but has also enhanced the period features in the process. Beautiful!

Once you have your style clear in your head and how it will look in the room, you are more than half way there.

Here are some examples of moulding and wood that you could buy from both Wickes and B&Q:

  • B&Q Smooth MDF Board (L)1.83m (W)0.61m (T)9mm click here
  • B&Q Decorative Natural Pine Moulding click here (the link will take you to the 32mm width, but there are other options available)
  • Wickes Pine Decorative Cover Moulding click here (the link will take you to the 32mm width, but there are other options available)
  • Wickes Dado Rail Primed MDF click here
  • Wickes MDF Primed Beaded Panel click here

How do I fix it to the walls?

There are a couple of ways to fix the panelling to your walls, and it really does depend on what your walls are like in the first place.

Are your walls plastered, or do they have lining paper on them?

If your walls are plastered, then you should be able to use good quality adhesive to fix the pieces of wood to the wall.  We have used both grab adhesive and CT1 in the rooms that we have panelled, and would recommend them again.

If your walls aren’t level (basically every old house out there right?!) then using some panel pins in the corners to secure the piece of wood onto the wall while the adhesive is still drying is a good idea.  We needed to do this in the living room.  You can buy a nail puncher tool to hide the nail heads afterwards.  I didn’t have one of these so I just used the head of a larger nail to knock the panel pin further into the wood.  I smoothed a little bit of caulk over the top and you can’t see it at all now.

If you have lining paper on the walls, then it may be a good idea to nail the pieces of wood to the wall, rather than fixing it with adhesive.  The adhesive may be too heavy for the paper and it may start to lift.  Of course, a combination of the two could also be used.

You could also screw the wooden pieces onto the wall (best used with MDF strips rather than moulding) and then if you decide that you don’t like the wall panelling in future, they should be easier to remove.

Photo credit: @renovating_number_16 Hollie has used decorative moulding here and has adapted to the features in the bedroom already. Hollie didn’t use adhesive when fixing the moulding to the wall.

How can I make it look good?

You’ve planned out your wall panelling, it is fixed to your walls and looks amazing; so how can you make it look good? I say “good”, but the finished result will actually be fabulous!

You will need:

Decorators caulk 

Decorators caulk smooths the lines and gives the effect that the pieces of wood or moulding, that you have attached to the wall, have always been there.

Caulk also helps if you to fill any small gaps between the wall and the panelling and gives a nicer finish.  

There are adhesives which are 2-in-1, but I haven’t used them so I’m not sure what the finish would be like with emulsion. I do know that caulk has always given a great finish when painted.

Wood filler

Depending on the wooden pieces that you have fixed, you may need to use wood filler either over nail holes or other chunks in the wood.  This again gives a smooth finish to the panelling.

Knotting solution

Particularly when using decorative moulding, there may be knots in the wood that need treating with a knotting solution.

This means that the natural oils do not seep through over time and cause discolouring on the water based emulsion you have painted the panelling with.

Wood primer

Before painting your wall panelling with emulsion, you will need to prime it.  

Your primer should match the paint that you use.  For emulsion you should be using water based wood primer.  Here is the primer that I used when doing the wall panelling in both the bedroom and the living room, click here.

Once the primer is dry (I’ve only ever done one coat of primer, but you may feel that you want to do two coats), then you can paint your wall panelling.  

The wall panelling in the bedroom was attached and primed before I started painting, whereas the living room had already had two coats of paint before we were able to purchase the moulding for the wall panelling.  I used a fluffy mini roller to paint another coat within the panelling and this smoothed out the paint marks from the moulding and just gives a smoother finish.  The light was catching the lines and really starting to irritate me! All sorted now, thankfully.

Something that I haven’t tried yet, but would love to, is wallpapering within the wooden panels. Not a bad budget option for those beautiful designer wallpapers out there and saves covering the whole wall with the pattern.

Picture credit: @_lucky_11_ Claire has added wallpaper to the panelling in her bedroom. Such a great idea!

I genuinely feel that this blog post has been like a therapy session for me! I absolutely love the use of wall panelling in décor and I truly feel that it can give that extra dimension that a room needs.  I love it! Have I said that I love it?!

I hope that, if you have thought about installing wall panelling in your own home, this has been of some inspiration for you and a confidence boost too.  

You can definitely have it in your home, you can definitely do it yourself, and you can definitely do a fabulous job of it!

If this blog post helps you with any panelling projects in the future, I would love it if you were to tag me in your projects so I can see. If I’ve not said so already, I love wall panelling and love to see a DIY project!

Lydia x

You can follow me on Instagram and Pinterest.

4 thoughts on “How to: DIY Wall Panelling

  1. Most enjoyable read as always.

    Like

  2. This is fab Lydia, thanks so much for putting such a comprehensive & easy to follow guide together.

    Like

  3. greenbankinteriors 24th August 2020 — 5:53 pm

    Loved reading this blog Lydia! Thanks for including my bedroom too x

    Like

  4. I like this website very much so much great information.

    Like

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