House For Six

DIY Beadboard Wallpaper Tutorial

Deme Crinion7 Comments
I love details.  Do you love details?

Especially when I'm trying something on my own for the first time.  I want details.  So, when we decided to go with a cost effective beadboard wallpaper treatment for our master bedroom you best believe I was stalking the internet for how-to's.

Luckily, there is no shortage of tutorials on how to install beadboard wallpaper thanks to some fab bloggers who have already lived to tell the tale. This tutorial by Centsational Girl was the one I found the most useful....especially since she included a handy video.

The paintable beadboard wallpaper I used (by Allen + Roth) was just under $20 a roll and also came with it's own instructions right in the package.  With instructions in hand and help from the internet I got started.  It was a fairly easy but lengthy process.  Hopefully I can fill in some of the blanks and answer some questions that I still had going into it.

how to install beadboard wallpaper

Here's what I used:

(1) yardstick 
(1) tape measurer
(1) pencil
(1) sponge
(1) pair of scissors
(1) roll painters tape
(1) craft knife (not pictured)
(1) level (not pictured)
(1) small paint roller

The first order of business was to decide how high I wanted my beadboard to come up on the wall.  I knew I wanted it to be a little higher than standard.  I googled chair rail heights and the results were all over the board.  Ultimately, I ended up taping off a few different heights and with your help via Instagram decided on the center line which was at 2/3 of the wall height.  (our walls are 8 ft, so the middle line sits at 64")
deciding on a chair rail height

The package instructions direct you to clean, patch and prime all surfaces before you begin.  As most other online tutorials recommend, you probably only need to prime if your existing walls are painted with a sheen or glossy finish.  If you have walls with flat paint, it's probably safe to skip the primer.  Ours looked like it had an eggshell finish, so I gave the walls one good coat of primer to be safe.

After 24 hours, it was time to wallpaper!

I started by taping off a line around the room where I wanted the top of my beadboard and chair rail to meet.  I had decided on 64" for the top of my chair rail, so I subtracted the width of the chair rail and placed the bottom edge of tape along that line. 

Next I followed the package instructions and established a plumb line. I cut my first piece (about an inch longer than the top of the baseboards) and taped it up (still dry) in place. I lined it up in the corner I planned to start, ensuring it was nice and flush.
DIY beadboard wallpaper tutorial
*Learn from my mistake moment not use tape on the front side of the wall paper like I did.  When I took the tape off at the end it took the top layer of wallpaper with it, leaving a nice chunk missing. Flip the wallpaper over and tape the backside or grab an extra set of hands to help hold it in place.

Then I took a pencil and traced a line all along the right edge.
how to install beadboard wallpaper

I removed the piece of wallpaper and checked the line to make sure it was level.  Walls and floors can be wacky and uneven, unnoticeable to the naked eye.  So if your line is not level, adjust your piece until it is and use the level line as your guide in placing your first piece of wallpaper.  It will be the baseline for all the other pieces, so you don't want to start off on a crooked foot.

NOW, it's time to wallpaper! I took that same piece I used to set the plumb line and used it as a template to cut the next piece.  I just lined it up with the cut edge and used the yard stick to trace an even line at the bottom of the piece. 
how to install beadboard wallpaper
I used that same piece as my template for all the others...otherwise it can end up like a game of telephone.  If your second piece is a little off and you use it as the template for the next, that one may get a little off and by the end your degree of error is a whole lot greater than using the same piece to measure all the rest.

Next it was time for the water.  This was my biggest question - how do you submerge the paper in a bucket that's smaller than the piece?  Many people use the bathtub but I didn't want to be running drippy pieces of paper back and forth, so I grabbed the biggest container I could find and a couple of towels.

I dipped each roll in the water (which submerged it about halfway) and rotated it in the water for 20-30 seconds.  Then I flipped it over and did the same with the other end.
how to install beadboard wallpaper
*Some said to roll the paper sticky side out.  I tried it both ways and didn't notice a difference.

Then I moved the wet piece over to a towel and unrolled it with the paste/sticky side up.  The Centsational Girl's tip to use a small paint roller to evenly distribute the paste was genius and truly helped to avoid any bubbles or portions that didn't get glued down.

After five minutes I put the piece up on the wall using the plumb line as my guide.  With each piece I adhered the top edge first.  Then I worked my way down smoothing it down and out to the sides with the soft side of the sponge to get rid of any bubbles.

The piece will be slippery and easily shift due to the wet paste.  I found that holding the top edge in place with one hand while I worked out the bubbles and smoothed out the rest with the other hand, helped to keep it from moving around.  After you have it all smooth, go back and check the top and side edges to ensure the piece didn't shift.  If it did, just slide it back in place with your hands if needed.

A word of caution.  This is wallpaper so if you have extremely textured walls, it will show through the paper.  I quickly noticed this and had a minor freak out.  It was only really bad in one spot, but I grabbed a piece of dry wall sandpaper and quickly went over any super textured parts of the remaining uncovered walls. You can see the worst of it here....which ended up being behind our buffet/dresser.  Not a big deal.
As I was doing this James was working his way around the room in the opposite direction installing the baseboards.  If there wasn't a baseboard in place, I adhered the bottom edge to the wall and James popped a baseboard right over it.  When I got to a section with baseboards already in place, I adhered the wallpaper all the way down to the baseboard and used a craft knife to carefully cut right along that edge.  You could also use scissors.

I lined up the follow on pieces flush with the previous piece and worked my way around the rest of the room
how to install beadboard wallpaper
(I later caulked any large seams before I painted)

Before I cracked open the paint can, I covered all the electrical outlets with painters tape to prevent any wet paste from seeping in.  When I got to these areas, most of the time I put up a full sheet of wallpaper over it and then use the craft knife to cut out a piece around the outlet.  For some trickier areas (two sheets meeting in the middle of the outlet), I measured and cut out a piece of the wallpaper where the outlet was positioned before putting up the sheet.

I stopped all my pieces at the corners of the room.  So, if I was short I would cut a small piece of wall paper to fit the space (like I did with the door frame in the pic below). And if I was long, I would cut the piece to end right at the corner, then begin along the next wall with a new piece in the same corner.  I know others choose to wrap their corners where one piece of wall paper begins on one wall, covers the corner, and continues onto the neighboring wall...but I didn't want to risk the chance of air bubbles forming over time in these corners and having the paper bubble up.

We topped it off with a chair rail (checking it with a level) and things finally started to look finished.
how to install beadboard wallpaper

And all of a sudden it was very clear that there was indeed a coat of light seafoam green on our walls. 
DIY beadboard wallpaper tutorial

We decided to go for white walls in this room so the top portion got a coat of Valspar's Swiss Coffee in eggshell, and the baseboards, wallpaper, and chair rail all got a coat of the same color in a semi-gloss finish.  I used my favorite Wooster angled brush for the trim and wallpaper.  I used long even strokes along the wallpaper, starting from the top and working my way down.
DIY beadboard wallpaper tutorial

This really was the finishing touch on the project and made it look like the real thing.
how to install beadboard wallpaper

beadboard wallpaper in the bedroom

It was definitely a time consuming project, but the difficulty level was pretty low.  It would be such a great way to add interest to a bathroom or even to line the back of some open cabinets.  Since this isn't real beadboard, it can get dinged and damaged fairly easily...maybe not the best choice for a hallway that sees galloping little feet for most of the day.  But for this grown-up retreat, it was the perfect way to dress up our walls.

Now tell me, who else has taken on the wallpaper beast?  What other places have you tried beadboard wallpaper?  We want to hear all your secret tips!