Monday, April 11, 2011

Installing Molding Panels

Applying panels to the walls is a great way to incorporate line and shape into your room, and brings with it a classy and sophisticated feel.

Materials and Equipment:

-MDF chair-rail of narrow width (1-2")
- pin/brad-nailer and air compressor (I prefer 23 gauge pin-nailer)
- 1" brad nails/pins
- mitre saw
- measuring tape
- pencil
- square
- paintable caulking and gun
- carpenter's glue (optional)

Step 1:

Plan out your panels! Know where you want them to fit, and what you want them to look like. Measure your walls to determine the size (height and width of your panels) and the width in between and around your panels. Try to space them out in a way that creates as much even negative space around them as possible. Know how many pieces you need to cut and of what size.

Step 2:

Use a mitre saw set at a 45 degree angle to cut your chair-rail according to your measurements. Make sure you cut your angle in one direction at one end of your piece, and the opposite direction on the other side to ensure that when your pieces are brought together they will form a 90 degree angle.

Step 3:

Use hot-glue to join together the pieces of your panel.

Use as little glue as possible, and hold joint firmly together until glue is set.

This is especially helpful when working with smaller panels. If working with larger panels, you may need two people to move the completed panel, or put them up one piece at a time rather than pre-glueing them.

Step 4:

Use your square and pencil to mark the position of your panels on the wall as closely to your plan as possible.

Step 5:

Hold panel in position according to your pencil marks and tack in place with a 23 gauge pin-nailer (a larger brad-nailer can be used, but will leave a bigger mark in the molding). Try to place your nails in a spot where they will cause the least amount of damage to your molding, and will be the least conspicuous.

Start with the corners, ensuring that they are as close to your marks as possible. Secure the panel by placing nails/pins every 4-5 inches, use more for areas with greater gaps from the wall.

Glue vs. No Glue:

Pros of using glue:
Stronger and more permanent.

Cons of using glue:
More difficult to correct mistakes if necessary. If/when you ever want to remove the panels, it will cause more damage to your walls.

If you wish to use glue, apply a thin line of carpenter's glue to the back of t
he panel before nailing it to the wall.

Step 6:

Apply caulking to outside and inside edges, smoothing and removing excess with your finger.

Apply caulking to corner joints, gaps, and nail holes. Smooth with finger. Remove excess/ clean-up with a damp rag. Allow time to dry. Expect caulking to shrink during drying. Areas with larger gaps may require 2 or more applications of caulking before they are adequately filled.

Step 7:

Sand lightly with a sponge block for a smooth finish and paint! If you're changing your wall colour, I would reccommend painting your walls prior to applying your panels. Paint your panels while in hot-glued frames, and then touch-up after nailing and caulking.

Step 8:

Enjoy your ordinary space turned extraordinary!


  1. So beautiful! Very schmancy.

  2. Well done – it makes a nice change to read something that makes sense. Pleasing on the eye too. You have a real nice site! brad nailer

  3. What if you would like to do it in a room that had a lot of doors and windows? Would that even look very good? Or would it be too much do you think?

  4. Great work! Now, I’m thinking of getting another room paneled thanks to your tips. Aside from the elegant style that wall panels can give to a room, it’s actually a great way to cover badly damaged walls. They are also very durable and cost-effective. It’s definitely a must-try project for every household.

    Rodney Orton