How to Install Beadboard Without Removing Baseboards


Hi, I'm Zoe

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January 30, 2020
Zoe Hunt

Disclosure: I received paint from Sherwin-Williams as compensation for the post. All views and opinions expressed in the post are my own and no other compensation was provided. This post contains affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, I earn a small commission, but it won’t cost you a penny more)!

How to insteall beadboard | black beadboard in small powder room

Ah beadboard. The funny this about this is that I really dislike beadboard. White beadboard makes me uncomfortable. I don’t know why, but it just irks me. But black beadboard. Now you’re talking! Black beadboard is classy and elegant and nothing could be better!

Isn’t it interesting how a paint color can completely change our perception of something? Paint can give something new life or a completely different feel. It can turn something you strongly dislike into something you love.

Want to DIY buy don\'t know where to start? Click here to grab your free guide!

But you’re here to talk about installing beadboard. And most importantly installing beadboard without removing your baseboards. So let’s get to it. Let’s start DIYing!

P.S. if you do want to remove your baseboards, that’s fine too. Check out how to remove quarter round and trim with ease before starting this tutorial.


What You’ll Need

Note: your quantity for each item will vary based on the size of your room. The amount we used is in parenthesis after the item.

How to Install Beadboard Without Removing Baseboards 

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Install and paint beadboard tutorial

Step 1: Find your studs

Find and mark all of your studs using a stud finder. Be sure to mark your studs a few inches above where your beadboard will end so that you don’t cover up your marks with the paneling. If you are not painting the wall above the beadboard, you can mark the studs using painter’s tape.

Step 2: cut your beadboard

Cut your beadboard paneling down to the height you want it to be using your circular or table saw. You can also ask your local home improvement store to cut them down to the right height, but they will not guarantee accurate measurements.

To determine your height, subtract 2.5″ and the height of your baseboards from the total height that you would like your beadboard wainscoting to be from the ground.

Once your beadboard paneling is the correct height, determine the width that you need. Measure the distance of your wall at both the top where the beadboard will lie and the bottom where the beadboard will sit.

It is important to measure both distances because your walls are likely not completely square. Because of this, you might have to cut your beadboard at a slight angle to get it flush at the ends with the walls. if you have a small gap, don’t fear! We’ll cover that up later.

If you have a wall that won’t need to join multiple pieces of beadboard together, start there.

If you do need to join multiple pieces together, be sure to cut the boards strategically so that the pattern spacing is correct and looks continuous.

We also recommend cutting and installing the first piece of beadboard and then measuring for the next piece. This will help ensure that your beadboard fits better on the first try.

hanging white beadboard in powder room

step 3: install your beadboard

To install your beadboard, place the paneling on top of your baseboards. It should line up flush with the top piece of your baseboards.

Nail it into the studs to secure it to the wall. If you don’t have studs close enough to the edge of your paneling, see the FAQ below.

If you need to cut out spaces for outlets, window sills, or pipes, measure in multiple directions multiple times. You don’t want to accidentally cut the hole too big.

I found it easiest to mark the measurements on the wall (luckily it’s getting covered with beadboard) and then transfer them to my beadboard piece. Before grabbing your jigsaw to cut out the hole, make sure the beadboard is the proper width. Then double-check your measurements from both sides.

cutting beadboard to fit around window sill

As you can see, I used a lot of different measurements to cut around the window sill, but you can also get an awesome tool like this to make it a lot easier to get just the right shape.

Step 4: add your trim

Now that the beadboard is installed, it’s time to add our 1×3 trim boards to the top. You will simply place this on top of your beadboard and nail it into the studs.

Grab a level before you start nailing to make sure your board is level. If there is a slight gap between your trim board and beadboard in some places, we will fix that in the next step.

Free download wood sizing cheatsheet

Since the 1×3 boards are flat and don’t have a pattern to them, we will butt them together rather than mitering the edges.

Once you caulk and use wood filler on the seams, you won’t be able to tell that it’s not a continuous piece around the whole space. More on this in a moment.

Step 5: prep for paint

Once everything is installed, tape where the 1x3s meet the wall and any trim. You want to do this before you caulk because it will ensure you have a super straight paint line.

prepping beadboard for paint

We’ve reached the step where it’s time to cover up our mistakes. Use wood filler on all of the nail holes and any seams in your beadboard. Once your wood filler is dry, sand down the excess until it is flush.

Then go through and caulk any seams between the beadboards/trim and the trim/walls. You can also caulk all of the corners to ensure a smooth transition once everything is painted.

Step 6: Paint

Once the beadboard is prepped and ready to go, it’s time to start painting. There are two options on how to paint the beadboard. Option 1 is to use a paint sprayer. Option 2 is to paint with a roller.

If you decide to paint with a roller (that’s what we did), start by painting all of the grooves. We used these awesome rollers (not an affiliate link, we’re just big fans) that continue the foam around one side.

You can use this rounded side to press your paint into the grooves. You can also use a paintbrush, but we found the roller was quicker.

how to paint beadboard black

Once you get the grooves painted, paint your beadboard as you would a normal wall. You want to work in small sections and roll over the beadboard quickly after getting the grooves painted. This will ensure that you have a smooth finish and don’t have paint globs around the grooves.

Once you roll over the beadboard, make sure there aren’t any drips in the grooves. If there are, use a small paintbrush to distribute the paint throughout the groove or remove the excess.

Now for the last painting step. This one is a bit tedious and is not required. If you’re feeling extra detail-oriented, you can look over your beadboard with a flashlight to make sure you didn’t miss any areas.

FAQ: How to Install Beadboard 

Why didn’t you remove your baseboards?

We opted to not remove our baseboards because they are in great shape and we don’t want to replace the style throughout our whole house. Plus it’s less work! We didn’t mind not removing our baseboards because we made sure to get the thinnest option for beadboard. If we would’ve gotten the x” version, it might have looked strange to not replace our baseboards because the beadboard would have extended past the top of the baseboards. The thin option puts the beadboard flush with the top piece of the baseboard trim. The majority of the baseboard still sticks out, so we were content with this option. 

Do you have to nail directly into studs?

We nailed directly into studs whenever it was possible. There was only one place where we were not able to nail into studs, so we used the cross-nailing technique to secure the beadboard.  To do this, angle your nail gun ~30-degrees to the left and shoot in a nail. Then, angle your nail gun ~30-degrees to the right and shoot in a second nail.

Your nails should be short enough to avoid any plumbing or electrical behind the walls, but it’s always best to check for those things and avoid nailing in those specific areas if possible.

What paint sheen did you use?

We used a satin paint sheen for the beadboard. Satin is a good middle ground that doesn’t show imperfections as much as a glossier sheen, but it cleans easier than a flat paint. Since beadboard has so many grooves, we knew that it would collect dust in the long-run, which is why we wanted a higher sheen. Dark paint + high sheen = every bump and imperfection is completely obvious. Sure, black satin paint still shows some imperfections, but it’s not as obvious as a higher sheen. 

To learn more about paint sheen and other painting tips, check out our paints + stains guide

Why didn’t you use glue?

We didn’t want to use glue or any other adhesive because we didn’t want to ruin the drywall if we decided to remove the beadboard in the future. Nailing the boards into studs is enough to secure your beadboard. You might end up adding an additional nail here and there to ensure every piece is fully flush with the wall, but nails don’t damage drywall in the same way that glue can! 

How high is your beadboard?

Our beadboard is almost exactly halfway up the wall, with the top of the 1×3 sitting approximately 48″ above the floor. We chose this height because we wanted our beadboard to extend past the outlets and light switches a few inches. P.S. If you don’t like the look of your outlets, you can paint them black, but we like the contrast. 

Have another question? Drop it in the comments below.

dalmatian puppy sitting on toilet surrounded by beadboard

There you have it! You now have all the tools (well the knowledge tools at least) to install your own beadboard! Which room are you going to put it in? More importantly, what color are thinking your beadboard will be?

As always, we would LOVE to see your photos. Send us (or tag us in) a picture of your installed beadboard on Instagram and feel free to reach out with any questions!

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  1. Katelyn Scheffee says:

    What colour black did you paint the headboard!?

  2. Monique says:

    Did you have to remove the toilet?

    • Zoe Hunt says:

      We removed the top of ours to make it easier to paint, but you don’t have to. It’ll just be really awkward when you’re painting!

  3. Lyss says:

    What about possible pipes behind the studs? Could you accidentally puncture them if you use the nail gun in bathroom walls? Any suggestions on not doing that?

    • Zoe Hunt says:

      Hi Lyss! There’s always a possibility when nailing into walls that you will hit something you don’t intend to. The great thing about nailing into studs is that it’s more secure and if you’re nailing straight into a stud, you shouldn’t hit a pipe. The pipes are usually next to and in between studs.

      • Nancy says:

        Hi Zoe – What about humidity in a bathroom, moisture getting behind the beadboard? I’m putting beadboard on a plaster wall and I want to avoid any opportunities for mold to grow!

        • Zoe Hunt says:

          Hi Nancy! That wasn’t a concern for us in this space since there isn’t a shower in this bathroom. I’m not a mold expert, but I’d recommend getting water-resistant beadboard and making sure to caulk it well to seal up any gaps after installing.

  4. Denise Strickland says:

    Did you place the 1 x 3s against the top 3” inches of the board board panel? Or did you place the 1” edge of the 1” x 3”, against/ or on top of the narrow edge of the beard board panel? In other words, did your 1 x 3 make it taller? Sorry I don’t know how to explain it better.

    Thank you. It looks great!

    • Zoe Hunt says:

      Hi Denise! We placed the 1″ edge on top of the top edge of the beadboard, so yes, the 1×3 made our total wall treatment taller. Hope that makes sense!

  5. McKenzie says:

    What if we want to leave it white? Do you recommend repainting it or just using white materials to correct mistakes?

    • Zoe Hunt says:

      You could go either way! For best results, you’ll likely want to paint it white to ensure everything is the exact same shade and color!

  6. Erin says:

    Hi! What kind of caulk did you use to fill in the seams?

  7. Nick says:

    I love the look of the dark beadboard! One small comment, please don’t recommend painting electrical receptacles. This is a code violation as it inhibits the ability of the receptacle to dissipate heat and can create a fire hazard.

  8. Tmw says:

    Why not paint the headboard before installing?

    • Zoe Hunt says:

      We chose to paint afterward so that we could fill all the nail holes and spackled areas at the same time as the rest of the beadboard. You could also paint first and then add touch-up paint to those areas. I just find that I can always see where I touched the paint up.

  9. Jessie says:

    Are you able to update the page so the FAQ’s work? Right now it’s not a link.

    Thanks so much! Will likely be trying this in the next few days!

    • Zoe Hunt says:

      Hi Jessie! Thanks so much for making me aware of this issue. The FAQs should be visible now 🙂 Good luck on your project! Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

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