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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Beadboard Wainscoating for the Bathroom

Today I watched my bathroom project transform. It was trim day which is always one of my favorites. The owner wanted all the old house charm in this bathroom- subway tile surround, hex tile floor, and beadboard wainscoating.

The wainscoating I used actually comes in 4x8 sheets. They call it "ply-bead" at Home Depot. (It's in the plywood section not with the paneling.) It achieves the look of beadboard without the associated cost. (Also great for porch ceilings: see this article for more.)
QUICK NOTE: The "bead" in beadboard refers to the little rounded ridges. says that it's a "narrow, half-round moulding".
I started by deciding on the best height for the beadboard. From the beginning of this project I've been considering this so I would keep the outlets out of the way of the top trim on the wainscoating. Mine ended up around 43 1/2" off the floor. I cut my panels at 43" because the baseboard will cover the bottom and this will give me plenty of wiggle room.

Many times people use a height of around 32" because you can get three panels from each sheet of plywood and they even sell these pre-cut at the home stores. However, I think the higher height has more old house character.

The first piece had all the holes for the plumbing and an outlet. It's very important that the edges of your panels are on studs so think about this before you place the first one. Also, the panels are made to overlap- one side has about a 1/2" lip. You want to place your pieces so that you do the receiving piece first and the one with the lip second.

I add a little liquid nails to the wall and put the panels up next. Since they'll have trim covering the top and bottom edges, I'm mainly concerned with getting them level vertically so that the beads don't lean.

Home stores actually sell a paneling cap that is made to go along the top edge of panels like this. It works fine, but I thought it wouldn't fit the look of this room. Instead, I wanted to have a small ledge around the top of my wainscoating where the homeowner could put stuff if they wanted.

To make the ledge, I bought some 1/2" x 2" squared trim pieces that I found at Lowe's. I ripped it to 1 1/2" so that it wouldn't interfere with any switch covers. (You have to think about this stuff!) I put this basically flush with the top edge of the panels, but made sure it was level all the way around. On top of this I added my small ledge that was actually some door stop trim with one rounded edge. I mitered the corners and attached it with wood glue and brads. It looked great!



  1. Great advice! I wanted to do something other than just the plain chair molding at the top and what you've done looks great and doesn't seem to complicated! Thanks!!!