House For Six

Working With A Bad Beadboard Installation Job

Deme Crinion5 Comments
You would think by now I would have learned, but somehow I'm always surprised/cranky when what "should" be a simple project turns into something much more involved.  I thought I could just whip out some paint, slap up a chunky chair rail and call my office done.  HA!!

When we removed the old dinky piece of finishing trim, we discovered a pretty bad beadboard installation job.  I'm not one to be super picky, because Lord knows the results of my DIY attempts come with a lot of not-pretty...but this was not something we could just patch over or sort of hide.

The beadboard planks didn't get the glue/nail combo, just some sloppy nails.  So, they were wobbly and pulling apart from the wall in more than one spot.  So much so, that the seams they did caulk were badly cracking.  There were visible nail heads all over and when the trim was finally off, we could see that not a single panel top was even with another. Which is OK, but the gaps were too big to fill with caulk alone, so we needed a plan C....

Fixing gaps in beadboard

Here's a little memory jogger for where this room began.  Moving day.  All sweet and yellow and wondering where her former 4 year old tenant disappeared to....

Even if I really liked yellow (which I do, but tend to like more in accents than wall colors), I needed to give this former kid zone, an update.  

I started by giving walls a fresh coat of Behr's Powdered Snow.  I didn't go all the way down to the trim because I knew we would be beefing up that chair rail. 

Then it was time to rip that little guy off.  Turns out he was hiding a dirty, uneven secret.

You can see the disparity in height here.  Not terrible, but since the new trim piece we were adding would be set right on top of the board (without a lip to cover the top edge of it), we were in for some serious gaps.
Fixing gaps in beadboard

We started the new chair rail install with the piece that would cover the highest board, checking to ensure the trim piece was level.  Then we mounted the remainder of the trim using that piece as a guide and making sure they were all level with each other, not the board below it.

Fixing gaps in beadboard

Lots of patch work ahead...

Despite the gaps, the chunkier trim made a huge difference.  I still had hope!
add a chunky chair rail

Here she is with the chunky rail installed but you can see the gaps even from far away.  Much worse up close. (The beadboard has one coat of the wall color here too - it ended up needing two more)

We also ran into a problem at the outer corners.  The previous owners had used an L-shaped trim to finish the corners, but it only went up to the base of the old trim piece.  Since the new chair rail would sit on top of the beadboard it would leave a big gap if we left it in place. 

We decided trying to add a small piece to fill the gap would probably look pretty sloppy, so we pulled off the corner trim.

I'm sorry I didn't grab a better picture in our late night project stupor, but the corner would end up needing a big gap filler too.

After we pulled it off (scoring the edges first), we used a box cutter to remove the paint ledge that was left around the sides.  Then we gave everything a light sanding.

We worried that just filling all these huge gaps with caulk would still leave those imperfections really noticeable.  We wanted a better concealer, so.....dowels to the rescue!

James made a quick run to Lowe's and grabbed enough 3/16" dowels to go around the room under the new chair rail and to cover the 3 outer corners.  We simply glued them in place right under the trim and into the corner grooves. 
use dowels on outer corners
(I will be totally honest with you - it was getting late and I didn't have wood glue, so I went for the hot glue gun.  I don't recommend this!  It did the job, but it was messy, invoked a lot of choice words, and simply was not intended for that purpose.  Go with the wood glue or Liquid Nails!)

Once the dowels were secure, we caulked all the seams and gave everything two coats of paint.
Fixing gaps in beadboard

The 3/16" size was the perfect size for this type of project.  It looks just like a bead running down the paneling and would be great as an inner corner fix as well.

As a whole, we caulked...

-where the top edge of the chair rail meets the wall
-all nail holes
-the top and bottom edges of the dowel piece (where it meets the rail and where it meets the beadboard)
-all corners and seams where the trim pieces meet

We also used a nail gun to secure the wobbly boards and recaulked the cracked seams where the beadboard planks meet.   

It was much more work than we anticipated just to get the walls spruced up, but it was so worth it!

Now I look over my computer and see this...

Fixing gaps in beadboard

It's still not perfect....there's a few of the old nail heads sticking out and some messy spots where we got a little lazy-sloppy with the caulk.  But I don't tend to hand out magnifying glasses when people come over and the perfectionist in me is learning not to whip out my own when I look around our home too.  I'm channeling my inner Nester and embracing that it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.  It was such a big improvement for a small cost and I love how it changed the room...imperfections and all! 

We're in the last stages of this girly office makeover and I can't wait to show you the rest of the space!  In the meantime, I would love to hear how you worked around a poor home improvement job or the small things you've found to make a big impact in your tell!

*Linked up at Remodelaholic!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to keep in touch!