For an elegant paneled wall without the expense of solid wood or the skill of a carpenter, nail MDF strips directly over plasterboard. The square-edged MDF is easy to join and it comes ready to paint.
Step 1: Prepare the Wall
Step 2: Cut the MDF Strips
Step 3: Sand the Edges
Step 4: Paint the Edges
Step 5: Cut Top and Bottom Strips
Step 6: Cut the Vertical Strips
Step 7: Secure Vertical Strips
Step 8: Set up String Lines
Step 9: Complete the Paneling
Step 10: Sand and Paint
Remove baseboard and window and door trim from the wall. Then, make a paper template to design the layout. Tape up strips of 4-in.-wide paper for the pattern, dividing spaces equally to line up strips around windows. From this, calculate the 3 3/4-in. medium-density fiberboard (MDF) strips required. Patch any wall damage, then sand and paint before attaching the MDF.
Use a power saw to cut the (MDF) into 3 3/4-in.-wide strips (12 per sheet).
After cutting the strips to length, clamp bunches of eight or nine across a pair of sawhorses. Sand all edges with a random orbital sander and 80-grit sandpaper to remove saw marks.
Leave the clamps in place and use a 4-in.-wide foam roller to apply a coat of quick-dry, three-in-one undercoat.
Find stud positions in the wall and mark them on the floor with masking tape. Cut top and bottom horizontal strips to fit, with joints at the center of the studs. Join strips with a 30° bevel and secure using a nail gun with 2 1/2-in. brads.
Mark and cut vertical strips to fit between the horizontal strips in the corners and along windows and doors. Back-set the vertical strips 3/16-in. along windows and doorjambs so the edges of the jambs are exposed, creating a gap. Secure with 2 1/2-in. brads nails.
Determine the position of the remaining vertical strips, mark and cut to length. If the vertical strip isn't in contact with a stud, secure with two beads of construction adhesive and nails to hold in place until dry.
Stretch horizontal string lines at the top of doors and the top and base of windows, leaving a 3/16-in. gap by the jambs. Mark the string line intersections on the vertical strips then cut strips to fit. Glue and nail horizontal strips to available studs.
Divide the remaining space and mark the position of the horizontal strips on the fixed vertical strips, ensuring they are level. Cut the strips then glue and nail.
Fill nail holes with putty. Sand the strips flush at joins and caulk gaps with paintable sealant. Use a roller to apply a primer over the strips. Finish with two coats of interior paint.
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