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How to Install Bead Board in a Bathroom

A bathroom gets a cute country-cottage update with beadboard.

More in Bathroom

old bathroom has new country charm look Watch Video
  • Time


  • Price Range

    $500 - $1,000

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Prepare the Bathroom

The first step in remodeling the bathroom is to get rid of the mirror, if any. In case the mirror shatters, put strips of duct tape across it (Image 1). The mirror probably has a mortared edge all around it, so it had to be chiseled off (Image 2).

Tip: When you are removing a mirror, etc. wear long sleeves to protect your skin against broken glass.

Next comes the toilet. Shut off the water and empty the toilet bowl. If you are not going to be saving the toilet, you can break it into pieces (Image 3) and remove it.

Remove the sink and the cabinet.

To make room for the new bead board, the casing from around the window needs to temporarily be removed. Work slowly and carefully to pry off the casing from around the window with a pry bar and hammer.

A new pedestal sink will be installed, so the pipes, etc. will be cut off below the floor, so the plumber will reroute it and punch it through the walls so it will be hidden behind the pedestal sink.

Now you're prepared for bead board installation.

Step 2: Choose Your Bead Board

Original bead board is made out of solid wood and it tends to expand and extract and you are left with gaps between the slats. The homeowner chose an MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) that will prevent the expanding and contracting, and will give a nice, even finish.

The bead board is easy to put together. It is made with lap joints that fit together and you can mix and match the different pieces depending on how you want to set up your bathroom.

bead board can easily be used to update bathroom

Step 3: Take Measurements

After you have removed the existing base and shoe, take measurements and cut the baseboard to length. When putting up the new wall system, the first thing you do is put in the bottom rail, then the rest of the bead board. When you put the new flooring in, you will butt it up against the bottom of the rail.

The shoe will then be placed against the bottom of the railing to give it a finished look.

Take the measurements and cut the baseboard to length. Use a sliding compound miter saw to make 45-degree miter cuts in the corners.

Note: Make sure your miter saw is unplugged when you are making adjustments.

the bottom rail is put up first when adding bead b

Step 4: Make Sure Slats are Plumb

When you are putting bead board in, you want to make sure all the slats are plumb. To do that, you need to make sure the rail is level. Set the rail on the highest point on the floor. As you go around the room, you will have gaps in the areas of the floor that are lower, but the shoe should cover the irregularities.

a level rail is important when adding bead board

Courtesy of Jeffrey Rowe

Step 5: Apply the Adhesive

To adhere the rail to the wall, start with a heavy bead of construction adhesive along the length of the board and press the board to the wall.

For the bead board, apply adhesive to the back of the board, and starting in the corner, set the lap joint into the track of the bottom rail. Check to make sure the board is plumb, and make adjustments if necessary -- make sure the first course is absolutely straight.

bead board is set in lap joint of track in bottom

Courtesy of Jeffrey Rowe

Step 6: Secure the Bead Board

Secure the bead board with a pin nailer. When nailing, go into the narrow profile to hide the nail heads as much as possible.

Most of the bead boards cuts are pretty simple and can be made with a miter saw, but for small cuts around the window, you will need to use a jigsaw to get the proper profile.

Step 7: Install the Top Rail

After all the bead board is up, the top rail can be applied. Repeat the process -- adhesive to the back, press firmly in place and secure with nails.

The cap will go on after the upper wall is finished and painted. Because of the Venetian plaster on the homeowner's walls, there were some pitted areas and uneven texture. The walls need to be skim coated before they are painted.

Note: Wipe the walls clean first to remove any dirt or grime.
Use standard drywall compound right out of the bucket. It is a little thick for skim coating, so thin it down with a little water.

Tip: Add a little liquid dish soap. The soap helps remove air bubbles from the compound!

Give the compound a spin with a paddle mixer until it reaches a smooth, even consistency.

Use a 12" taping knife and a mud pan to hold the compound while you work. The mud will fill in all the pits and depressions in the wall. If the first coat doesn't get it, the second coat will for sure. It takes the compound a couple of hours to dry, and then you can apply the second coat.

drywall mud smooths wall before painting

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