Create a Paneled Wall With Molding

Lead Image
  • 3-20 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 100-1,000
What You'll Need
Measuring tape
Chalk line
Miter saw
Wood paneling
Picture molding
Wood glue
Brad nails
Wood putty
Putty knife
Paint or wood stain (optional)

Can't stand looking at that blank wall anymore? Enhance the space and give it some dimension with a faux paneling effect. It's a fairly simple and budget-friendly project—any DIYer should be able to complete it in a single weekend. Start with picture molding for this project, and once you get the hang of it you can expand to include more ornate varieties for different rooms in the house.

Step 1 - Do the Prep Work

The first thing to do is lay out your design, so start with measuring your wall from one end to the other. Then decide how many panels you want, which can be rectangular or square, depending on the look you're aiming for. For example, if you are adding a chair rail or wainscoting to the bottom of the wall, you may only want two or three squares of faux paneling on the top half. If you want the whole space for the molding, then you might want several tall, rectangular panels instead.

Step 2 - Do the Math

Once you've measured the space you're working with, it's time to come up with the dimensions for each panel. To find the width, you must first account for where the molding will be around each panel by subtracting 12 inches per panel seam and then an additional 12 inches for each end. Then, divide the total space by how many panels you want. For example, if your wall measures 144 inches and you want three panels, subtract 48 inches (this allows for 12 inches on the beginning and end of the space and 12 inches between panels) and divide the remainder into three to get your panel width, which would be 32 inches wide here.

Your panel height is figured in the same manner—just remember to leave at least 12 inches on the top and 24 or more inches on the bottom.

After these numbers have been carefully calculated and written down, use your measurements to assess how much picture molding you will need. Remember to allow extra length for miter cuts. Also, remember that measurements on the wall will be affected by the width of your chosen molding. Mark your measurements on the wall with a chalk line to make placement easier later.

Step 3 - Cut and Nail in the Molding

Using a miter saw, cut your first rectangle or square. There should be a miter on the end of every piece—one left-hand miter and one right-hand miter. You will want to only cut one panel at a time so you don’t mix up any pieces.

Next, you'll want to pre-drill the molding to eliminate the chance of the wood splitting. Drill one hole every 12 inches.

Put a bead of glue on your first molding piece and place it on the chalk line you previously marked. Using brad nails, nail the piece to the wall, and then countersink the nails. Completely nail the rest of the rectangles or squares before you go back and fill the nail holes with wood putty. Continue until all of your paneling is secured to the wall.

Step 4 - Don’t Stop There—Paint

Your molding can be painted, stained, or left plain. If you do decide to paint or stain the molding, do so before attaching it to the wall for the cleanest look. Painting it the same color as the wall gives it the most elegant look, while a stain or contrasting color will give more of an impression. There are a variety of ways you can take this project to the next level, from applying chalkboard paint or lattice inside the squares, to using the space as a showcase for your child's artwork.

You can also apply this same technique of creating dimension on flat space by adding molding to ceilings, doors, stairways, or even as a headboard above a bed. And remember, if you are not the best at cutting miters, think about using corner blocks in your design to make all your cuts straight cuts instead.