How to Install Tongue and Groove Paneling Part 2

  • 2-12 hours
  • Beginner
  • 50-150
What You'll Need
Electric or manual saw

The second stage of installing tongue and groove paneling involves measuring and installing your first board and learning how to work around corners and objects. For most obstacles, the boards will have to be measured and cut to fit snugly. The use of trimming and molds will help cover awkward seams and edges. (This is Part 2 of a 3 part series. Click to view Part 1 or Part 3.)

Step 1—Measure, Mark and Cut

Measure and mark a point ¼ inch above the floor, and another point ¼ inch below the ceiling, or the height at which you would like your paneling to stop (for instance, if you plan to install a chair rail). This space will act as a cushion, safely allowing for any further expansion of the wood due to changes in temperature or humidity, which can happen seasonally. When working with solid, natural wood you must always take into account the natural behavior of the material. Mark the same measurements of ¼ inch from each end of the wall as well.

Then measure for the correct length of the boards to be put up. Be sure to measure your wall in several different places—there may be discrepancies in the height of the ceiling. However, if you intend to cover the boards’ ends with trim or molding, you may still be able to cut all of your boards to the same length without having to worry about the ends being uneven. But make sure that your trim will cover any such discrepancies. Now, using your circular saw, cut the planks to the length that they will need to be for installation. You will want to cut the planks with their finished side facing down. This will minimize any damage or splintering that the saw may do to the finish.

Step 2—Installing the First Board

Begin paneling in a corner, or along the edge of your wall. When you install your first board, position the board so that its “groove” end is facing the corner. Since you have left that ¼ inch space around the top, bottom and side of the plank, however, it is imperative that you make certain that the plank is going onto the wall straight and level. Use a level to check that the board is, in fact, straight, and double check with the assistance of another person. After all, the natural moisture in the wood may cause the board itself to be not completely straight. If this is the case, begin with a different board.

Drive a nail straight through the edge of the plank, keeping the nails straight and perpendicular to the wall, placing a nail every 12 inches along the length of the board. This method of nailing is called face nailing. You will want to keep the nails as close to the edge of the plank as possible to minimize their visibility, or so that they can easily be covered up with trim. Next, hammer additional nails, at similar intervals, through the “tongue” or the plank at a 45-degree angle. This method of nailing is called blind nailing. These nails will be hidden when the adjoining board’s “groove” is connected to this board’s “tongue.”