How to Line a Closet With Aromatic Cedar

A closet with suit jackets hanging and cedar paneling.
What You'll Need
Safety glasses
Dust mask
Battery-operated or electric stud finder
Construction adhesive
Pliable latex caulk in a ready-to-use tube
Two-inch finishing nails
Tape measure
Wood putty
Small putty knife
Small scraps of one-quarter-inch thick wood
Tongue-and-groove cedar planks or four-foot-by-four-foot panels
Circular saw
Workbench or sturdy sawhorses

Aromatic cedar has long been touted as a natural method of keeping fabrics fresh and free from fabric-devouring moths and insect larvae, and cedar chests have been used for decades to store off-season clothing, blankets, keepsakes, and whatnot. There are cedar blocks you can use to keep your closets and trunks fresh, but their usefulness is limited, and the scent quickly fades.

Instead of using expensive cedar oil or cedar blocks, consider lining your closets with real wood. It's a worthwhile investment that will provide the many benefits of aromatic cedar and last indefinitely. If you can read a tape measure and pound a nail, you can begin lining a closet with aromatic cedar and achieve professional results without the cost of hiring a skilled carpenter.

Dress for the Job

When doing any type of woodworking, protect your eyes from wood particles and dust by wearing safety glasses or goggles. In addition, wear a dust mask to prevent those same particles from getting in your lungs. Always provide adequate ventilation when working with adhesives and read the instructions for additional precautions and warnings.

Plan the Job

When determining the amount of wood required, keep in mind that a gap of approximately two millimeters must remain in between the panels to allow for expansion caused by environmental factors.

Also, the last panel placed on a side wall of the closet must be one-quarter-inch narrower to accommodate the adjoining panel on the back wall, and if two, four-foot high panels are used, each panel should be one-quarter-inch shorter than necessary to cover the entire height of the closet from ceiling to floor.

In other words, a one-quarter-inch gap should remain along the floor as well as near the ceiling. You can use wood molding or flexible, latex caulking to fill in the gap next to the ceiling and reinstall or replace baseboards to cover the gap along the floor.

Do the Job

Before lining a closet with aromatic cedar, remove everything from the area, including rods, shelving, and anything on the floor. It will be easier to work in the closet if it's empty.

Use a battery-operated or electric stud finder to locate the studs behind the closet walls and mark the center of each as closely as possible using a pencil. Measure between the pencil marks with measuring tape and take careful notes. This will make it easier to find the studs after the cedar panels have been attached with construction adhesive and the marks on the walls are no longer visible.

Prepare to install a bottom, side panel first by placing scraps of one-quarter-inch wood along the wall. This will hold the first panel at the proper height. Next, apply construction adhesive to the back of the first piece of aromatic cedar. Support the panel on top of the scraps of wood and press it into place on the wall.

Once it is in place, continue to hold it until you can attach it to a stud with a finishing nail in one of the corners. Don't pound the nail in all the way. Keeping the panel loose allow you to level it. Once it is level, pound the nail in the rest of the way. Space additional finishing nails approximately six inches apart along each of the studs.

Attach the rest of the panels using construction adhesive and finishing nails, and remember to leave about two millimeters of expansion space between each one until the entire bottom section lining the walls is complete.

The last step involves attaching the upper sections while using the first panel as a guide. Follow the same procedure regarding applying adhesive and nailing the panels into place and, once the panels are completely lining the close walls, cover the gap near the ceiling with wood trim or flexible latex caulking.

Remove the spacers from the bottom, and if the baseboards did not crack upon removal, reinstall them. If they were damaged, install new baseboards to give the cedar lining a finished appearance.

Once the adhesive completely dries, reinstall the closet rods and shelving, but keep in mind that they may not fit as well as they once did. The closet space will be approximately one-half-inch narrower than it was before lining the walls with one-quarter-inch panels.

To maintain the scent for as long as possible, keep the closet closed when not in use and seal any gaps using draft proofing. If the scent begins to fade, it can be easily refreshed.

Appreciate a Job Well Done

If the closet is well-sealed the cedar panels should remain aromatic for months or even years, but once the closet begins losing the characteristic cedar scent, refreshing it is simple: lightly sand the panels with fine-grit sandpaper, and the closet will smell just as good as it did when the cedar lining was first installed.