Master Makeover: DIY Paneled Wall

On Monday I mentioned we fell behind a day and I’d have to split this project into two posts. Well, I kicked it into high gear over these past few days and I’m happy to report that this project was finished last night, right on schedule!

Those of you who saw the updates on instagram know this already…

Let’s get to the details.

Here was the wall before.

When you walk into the room it’s on your right (across from the bed wall).

There’s a little entryway that I included in this project…

Here’s the view from our bed.

Alright, so when I spotted this online, I fell in love:


So rich and interesting and sophisticated. And seemed easy enough to pull off.

In order to achieve this look, I needed a completely smooth base so our highly textured walls had to go. The easiest and most inexpensive way I’ve found to do this to cover them with these thin sheets (0.11″ thick) of this hardboard at Lowe’s. They’re only $9 for a 4×8′ sheet… so cheap!

I picked up four of those of that plus two 4×8′ 1/2″ thick MDF panels to rip down for the strips.

The most important part of this project is planning. Seriously—you have to be thorough and meticulous.

Before I bought anything, I laid it all out on my computer to scale and this is what I came up with.

The second section on the top right is the smaller/entry wall. The two rectangles at the bottom are how I’d cut my MDF sheets, and they are color coded to make sure there was enough to cover both walls. Everything fit nicely onto two sheets and I even had some leftover.

I made the top piece 1.75″ thicker, because that’s the height of the crown molding I’ll be running along the top—that way all the visible strips will be the same thickness.

The vertical gaps were consistent all the way around, but since the entry wall is narrower, the horizontal gap was shorter—not a big deal at all.

I also planned out the particleboard sheets to make sure I had enough:

I already had narrow section leftover from our window trim project, so I just needed four more to fill the rest. Perfect.

The total came to just under $95 (after my 5% Lowe’s credit card discount) which I think is pretty amazing. The only other items needed are caulk, spackle, and paint (and of course nails and a nail gun) which I had so this project is a huge bang for your buck.

Time to get started. After clearing everything out, we had to address our TV situation. A few weeks back we had an electrician relocate the cable, hence the holes in the wall (it was coming out of the window wall on the left from outside and ran across the floor… no bueno).

We had debated on keeping the TV on our dresser or wall mounting it, and decided to go ahead and wall mount it to get all the wires and cables out of sight, free up dresser space, and for an all around cleaner look. I could take it or leave it, honestly, but it makes Brad excited so it was worth it.

We trimmed the first panel (after measuring and cutting a hole for the outlet with my jigsaw) and nailed it into place with our brad nailer and 18ga nails (no liquid nails!)

At some point I double checked my measurements and realized I made a critical error which left me with a large gap that wouldn’t be covered by the vertical board (this is the setback I talked about Monday).

So, I had to scrap the board and run to Lowe’s the next day for a replacement piece. But we forged on with the rest of the installation…

This paneling part was actually the biggest challenge in this entire project. Working with
4×8′ sheets of anything is not fun (as learned in our ceiling beadboard attempt… aka the worst DIY project in history)

It’s a challenge because you have to make sure it’s completely flat up against the wall, and you secure it to the wall in a specific pattern so no air bubbles can get trapped… all while holding it steady up next to the other piece.

And because walls and floors aren’t straight, your panels won’t line up exactly in some places but that didn’t matter at all since the seams would be hidden by the MDF boards.

We also had to cut around the beams which got a little tricky at times, since they aren’t perfectly straight. But I got it close enough to where you can’t really tell.

Before putting up the last board, we installed these outlet housings for behind the TV.

Then the fun part, trying to cut the panel so it lines up perfectly with both holes and the beam and other panels.

To make life easier, we cut that panel down into a narrower strip (which would be covered on both ends by MDF boards).

And finally, after 2 days, Phase 1 was complete.

Fortunately it only got easier from there. After ripping down our boards into 4″ strips (and two into 5.75″ for along the ceiling), it was onto Phase 2.

Before installation, I lightly sanded the edges to make sure everything was nice and smooth. Then I just nailed it up… super easy!

I measured and marked where my next board would go, and used a level to ensure it was straight.

A couple of them ran into beams, which I notched out using a combination of a miter saw and jigsaw.

It went by fast… nice and easy.

After the vertical pieces were in, I started with the horizontals, making sure to measure for each gap as they all varied slightly.

This part was simple too. You just have to take your time and measure carefully.

This is the fun part, when you start to see your vision come to life.

There was only one roadblock here… cutting around an outlet. I used my jigsaw—it would be completely hidden behind the TV so it didn’t really matter.

Brad later added a couple blocks over the studs where the TV mount would secure to (this will all be hidden, don’t worry).

About 4 hours later it was done (this was just me, so with two people it could go a lot faster).

Time for Phase 3… spackle, caulk and paint. This wasn’t so bad either. Not nearly as time consuming as I thought.

I added a 90° edge piece around the corner to hide the seam.

I used fast drying caulk so I could paint the same day, and used my Mouse hand sander with 240 grit sandpaper to smooth out the dried spackle.

After thoroughly wiping everything down with damp rags, it was time to paint! I recruited Brad for this one—he rolled on the smooth edges (with a cabinet grade foam roller) while I cut in.

By the way, I’m getting much better at not having to use tape. I cut in the entire thing (around the beams, walls and floor by hand. Having an awesome short handled angled brush is so important!

I used the same paint from the plank wall behind the bed (and in the studio)—Valspar’s Ocean Storm in an eggshell finish. It dries so fast and it’s amazing.

A couple hours later, our wall was complete.

Now, all that’s left to do is swap out that old outlet, add quarter round in the corner, and crown molding. This weekend I actually plan to trim out the entire room (finally), including baseboard, quarter round in a few places and crown molding. It’s going to look so nice and finished… I can’t wait.

We’ve already mounted the TV and tonight we’ll bring in our new dresser and start setting up that wall. Our rug is also here so that will be set up this weekend as well. Lots to look forward to on Monday!

41 thoughts on “Master Makeover: DIY Paneled Wall

  1. You and your husband are an amazing team! I look forward to reading your posts each week and seeing your vision turn into a reality! Awesome job, as usual!! 🙂

  2. I hope next week you'll show us a shot from the door as you walk in. I'd love to see how the board and batten and the plank wall look across from each other. I'd love to see how the rustic plank wall looks against the more formal board and batten. Also, I am dying to know what your plan is for the rest of the walls in the room.

  3. Great job! You're pretty much designing my dream house with all the projects you've been tackling! I can't wait to show some of these shots to my husband as “inspiration” for our bedroom! Thanks for letting us follow along!

  4. Looks cool! But did you not prime it? How many coats of paint did you do? The photos with the light shining on it, it looks a little blotchy…like maybe it needs another coat?

  5. Nope, no primer! It was freshly painted when I took those shots so the sheen should even out a bit over time. When you have a super flat surface and use a foam roller it's hard to not see some variation when the light hits it at certain angles, but I'll keep an eye on it and if needed I'll go over those areas again to smooth them out 🙂

  6. It looks so professionally done! I admire the way you work on one room at time to completion. My tendency is to be all over the place, so I admire your focus! 😉

  7. Jenna – if you didn't have a highly textured wall would you have skipped over using the particle boards and just attached the MDF cuts directly to the wall? Im curious before I begin. I just have normal plain jane walls, so Im wondering if I can skip the particle board (aka save money)!

  8. For best results, you do want the walls to be completely smooth and match the texture of the boards (every minor imperfection becomes magnified once you paint over it). In our Florida house, I did a board & batten treatment but didn't cover up our walls which were smooth and for the most part it was OK.

    The installation part would hold me back more than the cost (since they are so cheap!) so it would depend on the condition of the walls. If you don't want to take the extra step, I'd make sure to sand down any imperfections in the wall first so it's as smooth as possible. Hope this helps!

  9. I love this look! Thank you for posting the project from start to finish. If my walls are not textured, would you still recommend using particle board as a base or could I do it straight onto the drywall? Thanks in advance!

  10. I'm in love!! The DIY chandy in the picture is the icing on the cake for a little dose of glam. Excellent job you two. I was wondering if you guys work well together? Probably a silly question. I assume you'd have to. Even when my hubby and I clean the pool, we can conflict because he is trying to tell me what to do or not do! From a Florida girl.

  11. We get along fine… as long as everything is going smoothly 😉 It can be a real challenge sometimes which is why I try to do as much as I can on my own. When I know it's a project that will cause lots of conflict, I'll ask my dad to help instead (or hire it out, or just skip it altogether—not worth the stress!)

  12. I am in love with this wall!!! Can you please share what color is used on the side walls? It looks like a creamy white and really compliments the darker color well!! So transformation!!! Just perfect!!

  13. I love this! I've been looking for something inexpensive but luxurious looking for a bakery I am opening. I think this will work perfectly! I will have to send you a picture when I get to this area 🙂 Super Excited that I found this post!

  14. You did such a beautiful job here! The only thing I would question would be the advisability of using particle board and MFD sheets,which will off-gas,won't they? I would also urge people to use a low VOC paint for any interior space,but especially the bedroom.

  15. Hmm… not sure, I've never heard of that! I figure if there's no warning labels or anything I've heard/seen/read advising against it, I'll take my chances. It's probably no worse than the crystal light I drink regularly 🙂

  16. Absolutely awesome! I was wondering why you didn't spray the paint on? Won't rolling the paint add back the orange peel?

  17. We don't own a sprayer and that would be a ton of prep work! It looks just fine rolled on, there shouldn't be any orange peel unless you're using the wrong roller or there's a lot of debris in it 🙂

  18. Jenna! I hope you don't mind, I linked to this from my blog. I LOVE how yours turned out- your tutorial was great and you made it look so easy. I'm guessing it wasn't “so” easy and I'm also guessing the pictures don't even do it justice. Looks good! {if you want, you can see the rest of my two cents on}

  19. Looks great. I’m thinking of doing something similar in our family room to cover up wallpaper glue residue as I don’t want to clean it all off. Only question, did you glue the boards to the panels or did you only use nails?

  20. I absolutely love this wall!!! I have been looking for a guide to doing this since my boyfriend decided he wanted this on the basement wall. We have just begun our basement renovation and will be attempting this wall when it is ready. I hope it comes out as well as yours did!!
    Thank you again for the inspiration and know how.
    xoxo Ari xoxo

  21. Hi… the wall looks amazing. I was thinking of doing this in our media room. I was wondering how did the backing board hold up to the test of time? Did you work using the studs in mind for nailing the panels in? Thanks in advance!

  22. Hi,
    I just came upon your blog and LOVE LOVE your projects. You are so creative and I appreciate the details. I just bought my nail gun, so I’m ready to start with the wall. My question, “how did you figure out the measurements?” Do you have a software to get the squares perfect?
    Thank you,

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