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How to Create a Faux Paneled Accent Wall

Stock trim arranged to mimic paneling adds character to a bland master bedroom without breaking the bank

a bedroom with newly installed wood paneling

Sure, the master bedroom rarely gets seen by guests. But that doesn't mean that it—or any of the other upstairs rooms—can't benefit from a little extra architectural charm. This Arts and Crafts-style faux paneling project, created by This Old House readers Lee and Ashli Malinek of Cloverdale, British Columbia, is a budget-friendly, easy way to liven up boring drywall. Try it on an accent wall like the Malineks did, or cover the entire room. All it takes is stock trim, adhesive, and a weekend's worth of work. Soon the bedroom will be the first stop on your house tour.

Steps // How to Create a Faux Paneled Accent Wall
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Step One // How to Create a Faux Paneled Accent Wall


a diagram of a 5-panel bedroom wall

Before beginning the project, you'll need to take your wall's measurements to figure out how much material you'll need for rails and stiles. Using paper or drafting software, create a diagram based on your wall's measurements. For the Malineks' design, Lee divided the wall, which is just over 13 feet long, into five panels 27 inches wide and separated by the (actual) 3½-inch-wide trim. You can tailor your own scale to the width of your wall and the width of your material with this formula:

a. Determine the number of panels you want—four, five, or six tend to look best.
b. Multiply the number of stiles your design requires by the actual width of the material to get the total width of the stiles. (Be sure to include the end pieces if following the Malineks' design—six stiles bracketing five panels.)
c. Take the overall width of the wall (in inches) and subtract the total width of the stiles to get the total leftover wall space.
d. Divide the leftover wall space by the number of panels. That will give you the spacing between stiles.

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Mock Up the Panel Spacing

Step Two // How to Create a Faux Paneled Accent Wall

Mock Up the Panel Spacing

the bedroom wall before with the panel spacing marked up

Mock up the spacing on the wall in pencil so that you'll see where to install each trim piece.

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Install the Top Rail

Step Three // How to Create a Faux Paneled Accent Wall

Install the Top Rail

the bedroom wall panel top rail install

To make as few cuts as possible, first mount the long upper horizontal piece, or rail, using glue and nails. If your existing baseboard doesn't match the trim material, do the same for the bottom rail. Hold off on the middle rail for now.

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Install the Stiles

Step Four // How to Create a Faux Paneled Accent Wall

Install the Stiles

the bedroom wall panel stiles install

With the top and bottom rails in place, install the stiles. Even though they measured roughly 87½ inches long, Lee scribed each one and cut it with a handsaw to get a tight fit. And because the Malineks' panel spacing didn't correspond to the wall's studs, he glued and nailed each strip to the wall before proceeding to the next one.

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Install the Middle Rail

Step Five // How to Create a Faux Paneled Accent Wall

Install the Middle Rail

the bedroom wall panel middle rail install

Follow the same steps to mount the middle rail, which consists of five shorter pieces. Again, for the best fit, scribe each one and use a handsaw to cut before gluing and nailing. Let the glue dry over night.

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Fill Nail Holes, Sand and Seal

Step Six // How to Create a Faux Paneled Accent Wall

Fill Nail Holes, Sand and Seal

the bedroom wall paneling with call-out areas for filling nail holes and sanded areas and joints to seal

Use joint compound to fill the nail holes, and sand the filled areas smooth. Seal each seam with paintable caulk. Wait a couple of hours (or overnight) for everything to dry. Wipe down the wall with a damp towel to remove sanding dust and debris.

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Prime and Paint

Step Seven // How to Create a Faux Paneled Accent Wall

Prime and Paint

finished paint job of the bedroom wall panels

Prime and paint the wall to achieve the desired shade. The Malineks put two coats on the MDF pieces and three coats on the formerly army-green drywall to get a creamy white.

For more information on this project and a full house tour, visit the Malinek's blog.


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