Wainscoted Nursery: part 1(faux wainscoting)

I have been looking at Stef's Faux Wainscoted wall for months and just had to give it a try in the new nursery.

There are a few differences though...
  1. My walls are textured (shoot!)
  2. I have a window, door, and corners to deal with (what do I do there?)
  3. I want mine taller and I want a picture ledge like in this gorgeous picture ... yes, I believe I drooled a little.
Bos Custom Cabinetry

So. Here is my uninspiring, doesn't scream nursery, room before.

Here's what I used for the faux wainscoting.
  • For the vertical stiles, 4' long ¼" thick poplar, 8 - 3½" wide and 6 - 2½" wide
  • For the top rail, 6 - 4' long ¼" thick poplar, 3½" wide (please please get longer boards if you can and avoid ugly "butt joints" (giggle)).
  • 1½" finishing nails
  • Liquid Nails adhesive for paneling
  • #60 sandpaper
  • paint and primer

1.  Measure and mark your walls
I measured 4' 1¾" from the top of my baseboard and drew a line around the room in crayon.  Yes, crayon :)
I also marked stud locations, and stile locations.  Below the line I wainscot, above the line I paint green.
To determine stile locations, I started with the longest wall (without windows or doors), and decided how many "boxes" I wanted.  I divided the wall into equal sections.  It looks best if the sections aren't too square shaped, or too long. 
Mark the stile locations and make sure to avoid outlets and light switches.  I had to make some minor adjustments.  Also, try to keep the distances similar for each wall.

2.  Sand, hate it, give up
How do you get smooth walls for "proper" faux wainscoting?
   You could replace all your drywall.
   Skim coat the walls (I do not know how to do this).
   Sand the texture off.
I started sanding.        and it was dusty, noisy, back-breaking work and my wall still didn't look perfectly smooth.  So I stopped and made peace with my textured walls.  I think it still looks good.

Looks like I took an "orange peel" and made it "knocked down".  Picture is after painting.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on removing texture from walls!  Try this at your own risk.  Having said that, I wonder if wet sanding would have worked better? Anyone know?
Also, exposed drywall, like I ended up with, needs to be sealed with a drywall primer.

3.  Paint the top half of the room.
You don't want drips to mess up your wainscoting, and in general the rule is to "work down".

I chose this lovely soft green, Palm Breeze (Behr), semi-gloss, and painted down to my crayon line.  For 2 coats, 1 quart was just right.

4.  Apply poplar boards for vertical stiles.
I left my boards 4 feet tall for a taller than usual wainscoting.  In corners and short spaces (under the window), I used the thinner 2½" poplar to avoid chunky looking areas.
I always put a bead of adhesive along the bottom of the board, and butted it against the baseboard.
When my board overlapped a stud, I happily nailed it into place.  When it didn't, I used the molding adhesive  between the wall and board, and nails, to ensure a secure placement.

5.  Apply top rail.
Once all my vertical stiles were in place, I nailed my top rail to the studs.  I always put a bead of adhesive along the top of each stile and butted my top rail against it.

In the corners I just picked a side to be on top and butted my boards together.
This picture shows the poplar butted up against the baseboard and top rail.

6.  Sand and caulk.
I sanded my "butt joints" so they looked less ugly, and went around the room filling in the gaps between the poplar and the wall with some paintable caulk.  This helped make the boards look like paneling instead of just wood nailed to the wall.

7.  Paint (the wainscoting).
Where I had sanded the wall, it took 2 coats of primer and 3 coats of paint before it looked right.  It only took 2 coats everywhere else.

Tomorrow I'll show you how I added the picture ledge and cove molding (hint: I used miter and coping joints)!  More pics too!

I'm linking this post up with

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

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17 Responses

  1. This looks great. Can't wait to see the end result. I'm a huge fan of wainscotting too and have it all over my house!

  2. This looks fantastic!!!! Just beutiful and the "Orange peel" texture doesn't touch the elegance of the outcome....

  3. you go pregnant girl with power tools!
    it looks fabulous. so many great things about wainscoting. it is so versatile.

    best wishes to you & your little one!

  4. That is beautiful!! Ahh... makes me want to give it a try. Great job!

  5. WOW! I love it. And you figured it all out on your own! very impressive. Can't wait to see the finished room!

  6. Terrific job! I was so impressed when I first saw that faux wainscoting, too, and I would love to try it one of these days. I will be staying tuned to see how your nursery turns out!

  7. Ahhhh...I love how it looks...I will check back in on you to see more of your room!


  8. good directions-- enjoyed reading your experience, I want to do this in my house too.... just need courage and time:-)

  9. This is beautiful! Love that you sanded down the walls -- I can't believe the difference! But what WORK!

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