Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom

We all love the look of board and batten, don’t we? Absolutely. I finally decided to add it to a short wall in my bathroom. I blew through this project like a crazy woman, and unfortunately didn’t take many pictures, but it’s such an easy process, there’s really not a lot to explain.

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

First, here’s my boring wall. Those of you who have ever made an attempt to take photographs in a tiny bathroom, know that it’s difficult, if not impossible to get good photos. In addition to straddling my toilet and sitting with my tush in the vanity sink to try to get decent angles, I have zip for natural light in this room, and color enhancement editing can only do so much. I hope you can use your imagination.

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s the wood I purchased for this project, some of it I had on hand, so I can’t really give a price on the total cost, but it was minimal. Pictured below is the wood I purchased.

At the top of the picture is the pieces I used for the battens, which is called mull casing, measuring 3/8 x 2 inches. Many people on google used lattice, but this is a bit thicker (and unfortunately more expensive) than lattice, and was the exact thickness as the top of my baseboard. Perfect. Pictured under the mull casing is a 1 x 2 piece of vinyl trim, and then a piece of decorative trim, both of which were in my garage. Free! (sort of) The bottom piece is a pine 1 x 4.

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I cut all my pieces to size, primed both the wall and the trim, then put one coat of finish paint on them.

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It’s highly unnecessary to paint a line this straight when it’s going to be one-hundred percent covered, but my OCD was kicking in. The photo is primer only.

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

First, I tacked up two battens at the ends of the wall, one by the shower and one by my closet trim so my top piece would have something to rest on while I installed it.

This next photo shows how the top was assembled. I first attached the 1 x 2 to the top of the 1 x 4 with finish nails prior to hanging the 1 x 4 on the wall. This was much easier and in my case, safer for the drywall to do this step first. Then I attached the 1 x 4 to the wall (and into the studs) with screws placed close to the 1 x 2 on top. I then added the decorative trim under the 1 x 2 with finish nails, covering my screws. Easy sneezy!

 Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I added the last two battens after doing some math (yuck) to determine equal spacing. I used a level to make sure they were plumb. I sunk all the nails, spackled the holes, sanded and then primed over them. I caulked every crack where two pieces of trim met, and where every piece of trim met the drywall with paintable caulk. For tips on caulking refer to my post, “How to Caulk Your Bathtub“.

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I added some cute little hooks from Hobby Lobby. You just have to love Hobby Lobby.

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here are the before and after’s. Ta da!

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This project didn’t take any time at all, but I only did one short wall. The rest of my bathroom is too chopped up with the vanity, toilet, shower, etc…to add this wainscoting to any of the other walls. It adds some interest to the bathroom and brightens it up. And with the hooks, it also adds some function. Love it!

If this isn’t your style, another type of wainscoting I’ve installed that’s a bit more formal is wall-frame wainscoting. Check out my tutorial here–Wall Frame Wainscoting Post.

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim

Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I stumbled across this chunky, old frame at a yard sale not long ago, and fell in love with it. It was battered and broken in half at the corners, but I loved its ornateness, and its masculine bulkiness. So very interesting, I thought. And the lady only wanted $2.00 for both halves of the frame. Sold! Now what to do with it. Hmmmm. I stuck it up in my attic with all my other treasures thinking, “Someday this will be perfect for something.”

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

For me, “someday” can be years. Like when I bought some really nice table legs at a garage sale several years ago. Yep…just the legs. I hauled those $5-for-all-four table legs that I had absolutely no use for, from house to house whenever I moved. Three houses worth. Who does that? I just couldn’t part with them. My son, Brandon, was visiting not long ago, and mentioned that he wanted to build a craps table. I must say my beloved table legs made for a pretty incredible craps table. (I missed the boat not blogging that creation.)

Fast forward now to my super-cool frame. I quickly realize it’s not going to take years this time to find a use for my random purchase. I have a very plain wall at the end of my galley kitchen that needs a boost. I’ve been looking at that wall for some time (yawn), trying to figure out some simple, yet interesting project to spruce it up. It’s just a tiny space, but those areas can be the most fun to decorate.

I decide to use my frame as part of a decorative trim combination to top off some bead board wainscoting. I painted my kitchen cabinets awhile back, and added bead board wallpaper to the inserts on the cabinet doors (Refer to post, “Yes, You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets”). So I’m thinking bead board is a logical choice.

This time, instead of using the bead board wallpaper, I’ve decided to use decorative bead board plywood. I decide it would be a better choice from a durability standpoint. I’ve got a refrigerator door and a pantry door that both open up against this wall.

I know that the plywood comes in 4 foot by 8 foot sheets, so I need a piece of my frame to be four feet long to match that. Four feet will be enough to make this project disappear behind my fridge. I’ll need to piece the frame together since I don’t have a run of it that long. I cut both pieces of the frame at 45 degrees where I’m going to butt them together, making sure I get a match in the design. I’ll probably need to use some stain to help camouflage the joint.

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

So next its off to Menards to buy some bead board plywood, and some trim to go on either side of the frame. The gal working at Menards tells me they can’t cut a 4 x 8 plywood sheet down for me so that I can fit it in my car. Hmmm. I’ve had wood cut down at Menards before, but who wants to argue, right?

Home Depot, here I come. A friendly employee at Home Depot happily cuts some plywood for me so that another Home Depot employee and I can man-handle, bend, and smash it into my tiny, little car. I’m wondering how the heck I’m going to get this thing out of my car when I get home. As usual, I manage because where there’s a will, there’s a way. And I was blessed/cursed with an overabundance of will.

I determine the height of my paneling based on a picture I want to hang above it at a specific height. There are “rules” about how tall to make wainscoting, but I’m not concerned about decorating rules this time. Everybody knows what they say rules are meant for anyway.

I’m lucky enough to have a baseboard that has a wide enough top ledge to accommodate the bead board, so it’s not necessary to remove the baseboard. I simply place the plywood on top of it, and then tack up the bead board with some small, white finish nails. I don’t use construction adhesive because if I get tired of it, I want to be able to easily remove it. I sink my nails, and spackle over them. I caulk along where the plywood and baseboard meet.

Now I can set the picture frame board on top of the bead board, and attach it to the wall with finish nails. It works pretty fantastically (is that a word?) because there’s already a groove routed in the frame from where the glass would normally sit, and that groove sits right over the top of the bead board plywood. The two go together like Thelma and Louise says my son, Ross.

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now I trim out the picture frame wood with some decorative trim so it all looks like one big, happy family. Here’s what I use.

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I place the trim both underneath and on top of the frame piece.

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s a close up of the finished trim.

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I debate on whether or not to paint the wood from the frame white, but I like the old, worn look of it just like it is, and decide to leave well enough alone. So I paint the bead board and both pieces of trim white so they all match. I use some Old English furniture polish on the frame to hide the scratches, and it’s beautiful!
Here’s my little wall all decked out. Total cost was under $30.

Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here are before and after photos.

Before
Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It’s sort of amusing that the picture I chose to hang over my project says, “Kitchens are Made for Families to Gather”. I’m thinking any family gathering in this kitchen better not consist of more than two or three people or the jaws of life are going to have to be called in to pry everybody out. But I love my picture all the same. It makes me smile. And so it stays.

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula

Greetings, fellow DIYer’s. I’ve got a bad case of the winter blah’s here in Central Illinois where today the forecast is for up to seven inches of snow. The best way I know to un-blah myself is to do a home improvement project. I’ve been wanting to spruce up both my kitchen peninsula, and my fireplace for a while now, and today’s the day.

This project is short and sweet, and is pretty DIY-friendly. It requires simple tools, and not much in the way of skill. Perfect for me! I’ve seen many pictures on the internet where beadboard is added to kitchen islands and peninsulas, and I love, love, love how that looks, but I already added beadboard to my cabinet fronts, and want something different. I also love the beautiful, chunky, ornate corbels and fluted trim that dress up many of them, but grand “ornateness” doesn’t fit my house. So I ultimately decide on a simple wallframe to take both my fireplace and my peninsula out of builder grade status.

I installed wallframe wainscoting in an adjoining dining space and foyer (See previous post, “Wall Frame Wainscoting and the Importance of Architectural Details“, and I thought it would tie the two areas together nicely. I’ll only be posting about the peninsula re-do, but I will post before and after pics of the fireplace at the end of this post.

So as you can see from my before photos, my peninsula is currently my wall color.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I painted my kitchen cabinets white last winter (previous post), and ever since, I’ve wished my peninsula was white to match.

So step one of this project is to patch any imperfections in the wall first so we’re starting with a nice, smooth surface.

Here’s a picture of the spackle I’m using…or not.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It’s shrink-free spackle from Sherwin Williams, and unfortunately, mine is frozen after spending too much time in the trunk of my car. So important tip number one, don’t let your spackle freeze. Looks like I’ll be using drywall mud instead. At any rate, the best way to patch the area is to shine a light sideways onto the wall so that imperfections show up easily.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once the patches dry, I sand them smooth. I find I have to repatch some of them because my mud shrunk since some holes are too big to fill with one application. Although this next photo looks like an “innie” belly button, it’s actually a photo showing a patched hole where the spackle shrunk when it dried.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

If you don’t take a few minutes to re-patch something like that, people will wonder why you have an innie on your wall, and tell you to patch that nasty thing. I usually make it a habit to overfill the hole just a bit, and then sand it down flat.

Here’s a helpful patching tip. If I have drywall protruding from where I removed a nail from the wall, I take the handle end of my putty knife and push the drywall back in where its pulled out so that I create a divot, and then spackle it. After all, we can’t patch a hole that’s not a hole, now can we? Anytime a nail is pulled out of drywall it’s going to pull some of the drywall out with it, and it’ll leave a bump that you can feel if you run your finger over it. I use the “divot technique” to fix these. Here’s a picture of what it looks like after I’ve pushed the drywall back in to patch the hole. Now when I fill my divot with mud, I’ll get a much better result after it’s sanded again.

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonILg

Here we are all patched up!

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After I sand all the patches smooth, I prime the whole area with white primer since my wall is going to end up with white finish paint on it. Sort of ugly with just primer but that’s ok. If you try to take the cheap and easy way out, and don’t prime over your spackled areas, you’ll be sorry because they’ll show through your finish paint. Trust me.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After the primer dries, I put on my first coat of finish paint. I put one coat of paint on before putting up the wallframe because painting around the trim isn’t all that fun. Why do it twice and be frustrated two times when I only have to be frustrated once? I’m using Sherwin Williams ProMar 200 in an egshell finish in the color Pure White. We’re looking better now!

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now it’s time for the wallframe. I purchased my trim at Menard’s at a price of $3.99 each for two 8′ pieces. My fireplace that I’ll show later, also took two pieces of trim. So both projects together cost me $16.00. (I already had the paint, spackle, nails, etc…)

I have a power miter saw, but since I only have a few cuts to make, I decide to bring my miter box inside so I can cut the boards in my nice, warm house instead of my subzero garage. Incidentally, my miter box was purchased at a garage sale for a few dollars, and was still in the box. Score! They’re not that expensive to buy new if you want to invest in one, and they make nice, clean cuts. If you’re a DIYer, I’m guessing you already have one. If you’re a DIYer-wanna-be, go get yourself one! I promise you’ll use it again.

I put up a “pretend” frame made of tape first so I can decide exactly where I want my frame to go. I make sure my paint is nice and dry so my tape doesn’t pull the paint off the wall. Also, no need to press the tape down all the way. I just lightly tacked it up for a visual. When I remove my tape, I always pull it off by pulling it sideways against itself as opposed to pulling it directly towards me perpendicular to the wall. That also helps in not pulling my new paint off the wall.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now that I’ve got my measurements, I cut my trim to size at 45 degree angles, being sure to cut opposing pieces at exactly the same length so my frame will be perfectly square. I pre-drill holes into my trim where I want to put my nails, since I’m not all that great with a hammer. It also helps to have a hole at least partially drilled ahead of time so my nail will hold itself in the wood. This frees up my fingers to hold the trim, a level and a hammer.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I make one tiny dot with a pencil, not a pen where I want to put the end of my trim piece. Since I’m using a level, there’s no need to draw any lines. I tack up my top piece. Yet another helpful tip–never use a pen on a wall that’s to be painted because it will manage to successfully bleed through a ridiculous number of coats of paint. Or you’ll have to buy a primer that’s specially formulated to stop ink bleed-through. If you have small children, you may already be knowledgeable in this area.

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I don’t drive my finish nails in all the way until all four pieces of trim are in place, just in case something isn’t quite right. That way, if I need to remove my trim for some reason, I won’t damage it during removal.

I use nails that just barely go through my trim, and into the drywall because I know I have water pipes running through this wall. My plumber’s a great guy and all, but I’m not wanting to see him today. I use 3d Finish Bright 1 1/4 inch trim nails.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

There is no need to nail the trim into a stud because after the trim pieces are nailed up, I will be caulking around them, and the caulk will help secure the pieces to the wall. There’s no need to glue the pieces before nailing for this reason also.

Next the two side pieces go up using only one nail in the center of each piece in the beginning so I can still move the pieces back and forth on the tops and bottoms. Even though the trim will be moveable, I make sure it’s plumb before tacking it up. I’ll secure the ends of the side pieces after the bottom piece has been tacked up.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now for the bottom piece. Again, tacking the side pieces up in the centers only allows me to make slight adjustments at the corners while adding the bottom piece. I can now tack in the four ends of the side pieces.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I stand back, and take one final look to make sure everything is up to snuff before I drive my nails in all the way. I use a punch to sink the nail heads below the surface of the trim. Good heavens, my hands look like man hands! Goes with the DIY territory, I suppose.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I putty all my holes, being sure to overfill them a bit. It looks like I’m just being sloppy, but it really is a better result if I overfill, and then sand down the spackle rather than to try to get it too smooth initially.

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I sand the puttied areas, and then prime over them with my primer–not finish paint–so they won’t show thru the paint. If you skip the step of priming over the spackled holes, you’ll regret it on a sunny day. You’ll see a different sheen where you spackled, and you’ll say to yourself, “Gee, I should have listened to that lady who wrote that post.”

Now it’s time to caulk around all sides of the trim. (For a more detailed explanation on how to caulk trim, please refer to my post on wallframe wainscoting–click here.)

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I also caulk where my corners meet, even if they appear to be snug. Caulking the corners is messy, and if you’re a dude with big fingers, you can use a wet cotton swab or rag to remove excess caulk from the grooves on the trim.

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Caulking everything takes your project from, “Did you do that yourself?” to “Wow, who did you hire to custom trim your gorgeous peninsula?” OK, maybe not, but it does make a huge difference. Check out my progression photos of the corner joints before, during and after caulking.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once the caulk has dried, it’s time to put on the final coat of paint. I start with the trim itself, then move quickly to the inside of the box. I use a brush on the trim, and then a small roller on the inside of the box. I work quickly so that I roll over my brush marks that lap onto the wall before they dry. Then I paint the wall surrounding the box. And there you have it!

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It’s my life’s mission to rid my house of all things builder basic. Giving my peninsula and my fireplace a little boost adds a bit of personality, and it’s nice to know everything in my house isn’t just like my neighbor’s. Here are my before and afters of both my peninsula and my fireplace which were both done using the same technique.

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here’s my fireplace. The added wallframes on the sides just make it a little more prominent, and a little more interesting.

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Budget-Friendly Spruce Ups for Your Fireplace and Kitchen Peninsula / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’m trying to find the time to complete my foyer area by running wallframes up my stairs. The challenge on that project will be the funky angles I’ll have to cut. Stay tuned!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Wall frame Wainscoting and the Importance of Architectural Details

Calling all DIY’ers and decorators! Check out this project that can be completed with basic tools and basic carpentry skills. The wall frame wainscoting I installed in my entryway and my dining nook is easy to do, and I hope you’ll consider trying it if it’s a look you like. So far, it’s my all-time favorite project!

Although I love my home, it’s “ordinary” and in need of some architectural details to add some interest. I decorate my house for me–to suit my taste–but before any project I attempt, my subconscious always whispers, “What if you had to sell your home tomorrow? Is this project tasteful, and would most people enjoy the change you’re about to make?” Words to live by in my way of thinking, because we never truly know what the future’s going to bring. The fact of the matter is someday my house will be sold, even if it’s not until I’m six feet under. Some person will have to sell it, which means another person will have to desire it. And I want that to be an easy process for the seller, whoever that may be.

If I were going to sell my home, it goes without saying that I will have a leg up on the competition if my home is more interesting than the house down the street. A little extra “oomph” is crucial since I live in a neighborhood where all the homes sort of mesh together, and any potential homebuyers who are looking at my neighbor’s property are likely going to be looking at mine. Our neighborhood houses mesh together so much, in fact, that a relative of mine actually walked into a neighbor’s house thinking it was mine. Oops. Time for some curb appeal too, I guess!

How would my house appear to a seller if it were empty? In that vacant worse-case scenario, flooring, paint, light fixtures, door hardware, appliances, faucets and architectural details become paramount because outside of the major bones, that’s all the buyer has to look at. Those details are going to create that “desire” I mentioned earlier. Updating many of those items is something homeowners can handle on their own, and that’s why this homeowner always has a project going! So let’s get to it.

Since I didn’t think to take photos until right after I started this project, you’ll notice a partial piece of the plate rail is installed in a couple of the before photos. You’ll have to use your imagination to erase that, but here are my before pictures.

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

I can run a nail gun with the best of ’em, but I don’t own one, and decided not to pester my “go to” neighbors, George and Deb, to borrow theirs. Especially since it was just a week ago that I returned their palm sander. Not only do I not want my neighbors to start locking their door when they see me coming, but I also want to demonstrate what can be accomplished with minimal tools as well as minimal skills. I did this wainscoting project with a tape measure, hammer, nails, punch, level, caulk gun, stud finder and a pencil. The only power tool I used besides a drill was a miter saw–more details about a substitute later. If you don’t own a drill, whoever you are, you need one. Buy one. You’ll use it someday, I promise.

So first I need to decide how high I want to place the plate rail. Mine is a plate rail as opposed to a chair rail since it has a ledge. Installation height is an easy decision for me as I love the look of the rail placed higher than the standard 36″. Mine is 64.5” from the floor. I use this height because this is where one of the panel rows on my six-panel doors hits. It’s appealing to me visually because the top of the plate rail and the row of panels in the door form a continuous straight line. See how it all lines up?

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’ve heard people say they’re afraid to raise a chair rail because it will make the ceiling appear lower. That is not the case in my opinion. It draws your eye up the wall and visually raises it, just as your ceilings seem higher when you raise your curtain rods to within a few inches of the ceiling. Regardless, the wainscoting adds some needed personality to the area. Also, in my situation, if I put a chair rail at 36ish inches, my table would block most of it in my dining nook. If you’re wondering if wall frame wainscoting is too formal for your home, trust me, it won’t be. Although it is often seen in formal rooms, how you decorate around it will determine the level of formality.

The difficult part of this project is deciding how to construct the plate rail since there are many shapes of trims and moldings, made out of different types of materials. I experiment here with a few different kinds until I decide on a combination I like. Here are pictures of the winners.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The widest part of the chair rail, and the board to be installed first is a type of MDF (medium density fiberboard) or something similar. It was purchased at my local Habitat Restore, and repurposed so I’m not exactly sure of its composition, but it’s not wood. It feels like wood, sands well and paints up beautifully, and that’s what’s important. It’s actually called “buttboard” (Quite the name, right?), and it was a bargain at only fifty cents per board. It only came in four-foot sections, but since most of my areas are less than four-foot, I decide to use it. If I had long expanses of wall, I would choose something that comes in longer lengths. It measures 6” by 3/8” thick (actual measurements). Here’s a picture of the buttboard.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonILt
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonILt

First I use a level, and mark the wall so I know where to place the butt board. I mark where the studs are as well. I nail it up being sure to stay off the studs, and placing the nails high enough on my board so that the next two pieces of trim will cover them. This way, I don’t have to fill any holes. If I nail into the studs, there’s a chance of hitting those same nails when I install the trim on top of the buttboard. Hitting a nail with another nail is never a good thing.

The second and third pieces to go up are pieces of trim that are installed on the face of the buttboard. These are the pieces that need to be nailed into the studs. So these nails go thru the molding, thru the buttboard and into a stud. The two pieces of trim being used for the plate rail are made of vinyl. Here’s a picture of how all three plate rail pieces are put together.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Side note—I used to own one of those fancy-shmancy stud finders that runs on batteries. According to the one I had, my whole house was either one giant stud or it didn’t have any studs. (Couldn’t have been operator error.) So if you need to purchase a stud finder on a budget, here’s a suggestion. I’m sure this stud finder isn’t very expensive. I’ve had it for so long that I don’t remember where I bought it, and hopefully someone still makes them. I’ve used it, abused it, lost it, found it, dropped it, broke it and glued it back together.

It has a magnet in it, and you just run it across the wall, and it finds the drywall nails/screws. You can see the yellow lever move when it locates a screw which tells you where your studs are, and you can feel it pull when you run across them. Keep in mind, it won’t help you locate water pipes or ductwork—just the nails and screws. In many homes, if you look closely, you can see where the screws are located without even using a stud finder since homes shift and move and force them out to form “nail pops” or little raised areas in your drywall. So here’s a picture of my magical stud finder. I love this thing! Simple yet effective. If you’re a carpenter and are reading this, I’ll bet you’re either laughing or rolling your eyes. Laugh if you must, but I’m committed to my stud finder.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’ve never used vinyl molding before for a project like this, and I love it. It doesn’t splinter, it cuts and drills well, and although I will still prime and paint it, it’s already white for me! It’s also less expensive than other materials.

Since I’m not a carpenter, and I know my limitations with a hammer, I pre-drill all my holes in the trim to save myself a migraine. I don’t want to find out if the vinyl will split without pre-drilling. I also don’t want to experience the inevitable each and every time I use a hammer. The inevitable would be bending a nail on the last hit, and trying to dig it out of the wood without losing my charming personality and whizzing the hammer through a window.

Tip: It’s a good idea to drill the holes on the curved part of the molding because they’ll be less noticeable in that area. I make sure the pilot holes are slightly smaller than the nails I’m using, and I countersink all my nails with a punch. I slightly overfill the nail holes with spackle, and sand them smooth.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

If you’ve read my other posts, you know I’m a garage sale addict, and my power miter saw is yet another of my earth-shattering finds. Before I invested in a power miter saw, I used a miter box for this type of project and it worked just fine. My miter box was also purchased at a garage sale (surprise!), and was still in the box when I bought it. It still had the Menard’s sticker on it too in case you’re wondering where one can be purchased. I also saw a miter box recently at our local Habitat Restore. My garage sale miter saw was probably purchased for a husband for Father’s Day by a wife with an ulterior motive. “Honey! Look what the kids and I got you for Father’s Day! (Pause.) Remember that trim that needs to be replaced in the bathroom?” Even purchased new in a store (in case you’re not a garage sale addict), a miter box is a small investment, and the cuts they make are very accurate. Isn’t she a beauty?!

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

You’ll most definitely need something that cuts a precise 45 degree angle in order to do this project, so maybe you could borrow a saw from a friend if you don’t have one and don’t want to invest in a miter box. Although a jig saw can be set to cut a 45, it wouldn’t be accurate enough to use for this project. I need to cut 45’s on the plate rail trim were where it extends around outside corners as well as on the inside corners. And there are many, many 45’s to come on the wall frames too! Here’s the plate rail completed.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

At this time, I break out the halogen light, and shine it on the walls so all the nicks and dings show up easily. I spackle all of these too and then sand all the patches smooth. I really want the walls to be perfect because we’re doing “fake” wainscoting. The proper way to do wainscoting would be to apply sheets of paneling to the walls before you apply your frames, but the look is the same whether you add paneling or not. All the baseboard would have to be removed too, so I don’t see the point in going to the work and the expense of adding it. Here are my polka-dot walls after patching.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I have seen where some people who have an even higher degree of OCD than myself, will sand the walls smooth with a palm sander before they prime to make them really smooth. I choose not to, but do what’s right for you. When I paint my walls, I’m going to be adding some degree of texture right back onto them so that’s why I see sanding the walls as futile.

I prime the plate rail and the wall, including the vinyl trim, even though it’s already white. I want the trim to match the white I’ve chosen for the rest of the project, so I need to put finish paint on it. The finish paint will stick to the vinyl better if I prime it first. Here’s the wall and trim primed. I love it even at this early stage!

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After the primer dries, I caulk every area where two boards meet one another, and everywhere boards meet the wall. Since I’ll be caulking several areas, I choose not to use any type of glue or liquid nails to hold my molding on the wall. I’ve done this before and don’t feel it’s necessary to glue the boards since nailing and caulking around them will hold them in place. And what if someday I want to remove my beloved trim?

So on my plate rail, I caulk against the wall on the top, between the top flat piece and the trim, between the trim and the butt board and between the butt board and the wall. There’s lots of caulking. If you’ve never caulked before, you’ll certainly have the hang of it by the time you finish your wall frames. Tip: Be sure to caulk after you prime so the caulk will adhere better to the vinyl.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Caulking takes practice. If you haven’t done it before and have trouble, don’t be discouraged. For the best results, I would cut a very small hole at a 45 degree angle in the nozzle. That alone will save you some grief. If you cut the hole too big, you’ll be up to your elbows in caulk, and you can’t make the hole smaller once the deed has been done.

Hold the gun at about 45 degrees, and go slow so the caulk has a chance to grab onto to the surface, while trying to keep the caulk gun moving and at an even speed. Try to keep an even “squeeze” on the trigger to keep the bead consistent. Here’s how small I cut my hole.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

As soon as you finish a section, immediately smooth the bead with a wet finger. Caulk sets up very quickly so you have to work fast. Once you get it nice and smooth, leave it alone. Walk away. Resist the urge to smooth it out one more time. Control yourself or you’ll live to regret it.

If you apply the caulk too heavily, you will have a nasty, huge mess on your hands–literally. I would keep a damp rag handy to wipe off any excess if you get too carried away, and be sure to wipe the caulk off before it starts to set up or you’ll have a brand new issue.

Practice, practice, practice. People who are proficient at caulking make it look easy, and it is–once you’ve had a little practice. I would recommend using white caulk as opposed to clear. Clear caulk is a thinner consistency, it doesn’t set up as quickly, and in my opinion it shrinks more than colored caulk. I try not to use clear unless I really must have clear for some reason.

Tip: Make sure the caulk you choose is water clean-up and is paintable.

Once the caulk has set up, I apply my first coat of finish paint. I use Sherwin Williams’ “pure white” in an eggshell. It’s immensely easier to paint my walls before applying the wall frames so it makes sense to at least get the first coat on ahead of time. The second and final coat of finish paint will go on after the wall frames. I decide to take a break for a couple of days after the first coat of finish. Here’s a picture after priming and after the first coat of finish paint and before adding the frames.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now I give my walls some personality! The most difficult part is trying to decide where to place the frames and how big to make them. I did some research into frame placement, and it can vary just as a chair rail height can vary. The consensus seems to be that the box sizes can vary based on the particulars of your room. As long as the spaces in between your frames are consistent, everything will appear consistent even if you must have different sized frames on the same wall due to windows or other obstacles. The most common measurement seems to be 3″ in between frames and 4″ between the top of the baseboard and the bottom of the frame. Also, 4″ between the top of the frame and the bottom of the chair rail were most common. Those are the measurements I’m going with.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The space in the above photo is actually 3″, but the camera angle has distorted the measurement.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since my entryway is broken into different sized wall spaces by doors, most of my frames are going to be different sizes. Also, since I have small areas, the calculating is pretty simple. Because it’s a rather small area overall, I go with bigger boxes rather than smaller ones so it doesn’t busy up the space. In other words, if in a particular section I’m trying to decide between two boxes or three, I go with two. I have four total doors breaking up the area and six rectangular squares on each of those doors. If I went with smaller frames, that would be a lot of little rectangles fighting for visual attention, sending my eyes into a geometric frenzy.

The trim I choose for the wall frames is pre-primed MDF as opposed to vinyl simply because I can’t find a shape I like in vinyl. (I have since found some I like in vinyl. Go figure.) All my trim is purchased at our local Menard’s. I still have the tag from Menards on the back of the trim I’m using for the frames, and there are two numbers listed. One is #8595 and the other is #43559 08595. Here’s what the wall frame molding looks like.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I found on a few websites that some carpenters construct their frames ahead of time, and then attach them to the walls. I fail to see the advantage of doing it that way since I would have to have to create a jig, and have to drive the nails into the frames without destroying them—especially since I’m refusing to pester George and Deb for their nail gun. I don’t have that level of skill so I’m going to do it the “lay-person” way. The finished product will look the same—amazing.

So step one for attaching the frames is to make small pencil marks (don’t use ink, it’ll bleed through your paint) where the top piece of trim needs to go. Remember when your Mom and Dad told you to pay attention in math class because you would need that knowledge later in life? They were right, and now is later. I need to measure, and mark my spacing so I know where to put both ends of the top trim pieces, and then make a mark 4” down from the bottom of my plate rail so I know at what height to place them. You should only have three pencil marks for each entire frame—all on that top piece of molding.

No need to make marks lower down for the side pieces or mark the bottom piece since the location of the three remaining pieces is determined by the placement of the top trim piece. Once the top piece is placed perfectly level in its marked location, installing the remaining three is a walk in the park!

Next, I measure and cut my pieces to length–all at 45 degree angles. We’ve all heard “measure twice, cut once”, and that phrase takes on a whole new meaning in this project. If I have two or three boxes in a section, I make sure all the top and bottom pieces for all the boxes are cut exactly the same length, and all the side pieces are cut exactly the same length. I choose to cut my frames one wall section at a time, install them and then go on to the next section so there’s no chance in getting any of the trim pieces mixed up.

After all the pieces are cut, I pre-drill two pilot holes in both the top and bottom pieces about two inches or so from the ends. I drill three pilot holes in the longer side pieces–one in the center and the other two a couple of inches from each end. Again I make certain my pilot holes are slightly smaller than my nail size so the nails will grip the wood. I decide to tap the nails part way into my pilot holes before I put them up to the wall for installation so I don’t have to juggle the trim piece, a hammer, nails and a level. Some of the following pictures are recreated using leftover trim, so the molding pieces are smaller than the ones I actually used, but the process is the same. Here’s my cut trim with my nails standing at attention and ready to roll.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It’s important to start with the top piece, so if any “fudging” has to be done, it can be done on the bottom pieces that aren’t as visible. I line up my first trim piece with my marks, and using a level, tack in the two nails. I don’t put my nails in all the way until I have all the frames in a section completely up, just in case of “installer error”. (Another possible whizzing-hammer situation.)

Again, I’m not a believer in using glue or liquid nails in addition to the trim nails I’m using because the frames will be caulked around when I’m finished. The caulk will serve as my “glue”. Also, since I’m caulking, there’s no need to worry about hitting a stud for the frames. They are quite secure with nails and caulk. Here’s a picture of my top piece tacked up, and a picture of the trim nails I used that I purchased at a garage sale. Be honest. It makes you want to go to garage sales, doesn’t it? They’re a bit rusty, but since I’m just using them for trim as opposed to bridge building, they’ll work just fine.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I have a spot in one wall that bows out so I have to scribe my top and bottom pieces to make them fit. To be more specific, when I hold my trim so that the center of the trim touches the wall, the end pieces stick out from the wall and won’t lay flat. In the interest of time, I’ll refer you to google to learn how to scribe a piece of wood, in case you run across this situation. It works like a charm. Tip: I would recommend using a compass for the sake of precision. It’s the most accurate way in my opinion.

In the event you have an area where your wall is concave on the other hand, just tack your piece up by nailing into the two pre-drilled end pilot holes, and the remaining gap in the center can be filled with caulk.

So after I have my top piece tacked up, I use my level, and hold up a side piece so that it’s plumb and meets exactly at the top where the corners meet. I tack it up with only one nail in the center of the piece of trim so that the ends move freely. After constructing these frames different ways, I find that tacking the side pieces only in the centers is the best way to begin installing those, and you’ll see why in a minute. Here’s a picture of my side pieces tacked only at the center.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

So what I have now is the top piece tacked on both ends so it’s secure, and then the two side pieces only tacked in the center. Now it’s time to match up the side pieces at the top corners and tack nails into the top pilot holes. It’s easy to be precise with matching these corners because the side pieces are tacked in only at the center, and you can move the top of the side piece freely in order to make a perfect corner.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

If you’ve been precise with the previous instructions, the bottom piece should go in easily by matching the corners and tacking nails in the final four pilot holes. If you have to fudge the bottom piece to make it fit, that’s ok. It would have to be pretty messed up to be spotted that close to the floor. The key is to cut all the corresponding trim pieces exactly the same length, and then installing them perfectly level and plumb. And of course you must have perfect 45 degree angles. It’s really not that difficult if you take your time. Here’s my frame with all the nails only tacked in.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once I finish a wall section, I hammer the nails in all the way, countersink them with a punch and repeat the process in each section until I’m finished. It doesn’t look finished until I caulk around both the inside of the frame as well as the outside of the frame. I think it looks nice to also push some caulk into the joints where my corners meet, even though the cracks aren’t very wide. I use a cotton swab to remove any globs of caulk that gather in the groove that my fingers are too big to fit into. I also need to fill of all of those unsightly nail holes. I wait until I have all the frames done before I fill holes and caulk. I remember to spackle, let dry and sand before I caulk so I don’t disturb my caulk during sanding.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Although I’ve already primed and put a coat of finish on my masterpiece, I’ll need to suck it up and get out the primer all over again, and prime over all my newly sanded spackled areas. If I don’t prime over the spackled areas, I’ll look at my project when the light hits it, and be able to see each and every spackled spot through the finish paint.

Once the primer is dry, I need to hit the primed areas with finish paint again too in order to get those spots “caught up” to the rest of the walls. Remember the rest of my walls already have one coat of finish on them. After that dries, I can repaint my entire project.

I will admit that painting the final coat of finish, for me, is the worst part of the project, and I paint for a living. It’s no fun to paint around all those boxes. I just put on some James Taylor, and sing myself through the pain. It’s more tolerable if my mind is in the right place so I concentrate on how beautiful it’ll be when I’m done. I use a brush to paint the frames, and use a small roller to finish the remainder.

For the impact this adds to my home, I think it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to do. I saved myself some money by calculating my frame sizes and cutting my pieces so that I didn’t have much waste. I found that by adjusting my measurements by an inch or so, I saved a lot of potentially wasted inches of molding. Here are my before and after pictures.

Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting  / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting  / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting  / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Wall frame Wainscoting / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Wall frame wainscoting adds a sense of elegance to this space and is a classic design addition. It’s like that little black dress that never goes out of style. It adds some formality without feeling stuffy, and I love it!

Note: If you’re a wainscoting lover, and this looks too imitating for your skill level, a wainscoting option that is simpler to install and is just as beautiful is board and batten. If you want to give that a looksee, feel free to check out my post, “Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom“.

This post was written by Tracy Evans, who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner, and Journeyman Painter servicing the Bloomington/Normal, IL area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view more before and after photos of her projects. And if you’re a fan of gardening, you may want to visit her urban gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

For more information about our local Habitat for Humanity Restore here in Central Illinois, please visit their website at ReStore@HabitatMcLean.org. Donate generously!