I already showed you Part 1 of our DIY steampunk nursery, painting the walls with pink and grey stripes, but that isn’t all we did to the walls in the nursery! We added DIY wainscoting around the bottom of the walls using textured wallpaper, and today I’m going to show you how we did it!
It was my mother-in-law’s idea to put textured wallpaper inside the wainscoting panels for some added dimension, and I just LOVE how it turned out! It adds some dimension to the walls, plus the damask pattern makes the room feel fancy, but it’s not overwhelming because it’s sort of “hidden” in the white on white of the wainscoting.
DIY Wainscoting With Textured Wallpaper
- 5 hours (time spent doing stuff)
- 2 hours (time spent waiting around)
- 7 hours (total project time)
- cordless multi-tool
- wallpaper sponge
- seam roller
- 3” putty knife
- utility knife
- miter saw
- finish nail gun
- 2” putty knife
- caulk gun
- roller paint tray
- roller frame and roller covers
- flat trim brush
- textured paintable wallpaper (we used this damask pattern paper from Lowes)
- 5/8” mullion casing moulding (for the horizontal piece)
- 11/32” mullion casing moulding (for the vertical pieces)
- Liquid Nails
- finish nails
- painter’s tape
- 220 grit sandpaper
- BEHR Premium Plus Ultra paint in Ultra Pure White
I wanted flat panel boards for our DIY wainscoting. It’s easy enough to use 1×4 boards for this, but I wanted to have rounded edges; rather than round the edges myself with sandpaper, I decided to buy “pre-shaped” moulding boards. We ended up using mullion casing boards which were flat across the front with slightly rounded edges on both front edges.
We started by measuring the full dimensions of the room so we could plan out what the DIY wainscoting would look like, and how large each panel would be. We figured it definitely made sense to “start” the panels in the corners, and then spread them out evenly across the wall until they hit the other corner. This way we wouldn’t run into one panel of wainscot turning the corner and continuing onto another wall, which would look weird. Once we had the design figured out on paper, we measured and marked where the vertical boards would go to divide each wainscot panel.
One of the tricky things about DIY wainscoting is figuring out how to join your pieces of wood so that the seams are smooth and not weird-looking. To get nice-looking joints at the top of the wainscoting, we decided to use a slightly thicker board for the horizontal top pieces so that the vertical boards would be inset slightly. This also saved us some time and effort because we didn’t have to line up those joints perfectly and sand them completely smooth before painting!
Making nice-looking joints at the bottom of the wainscoting was a little bit more tricky. The baseboards in our home have a small molded piece at the top, and I knew it was going to be really difficult to run a piece of wood into that molded piece and have it fit tight. Luckily my dad had a brilliant idea! He used our handheld multi-tool to cut out the molded section at the top of the baseboards where the vertical boards were going to go!
He basically made a “notch” for the vertical boards to sit in. To deal with the corners he cut two notches right next to each other because our wainscot panels were designed to evenly span a wall, starting and ending exactly in each corner.
Once the baseboards were trimmed, we put up textured paintable wallpaper on the bottom third of the walls. The wallpaper we used was pre-pasted, so all we had to do was measure and cut each piece, soak it for a few minutes, and then paste it up onto the wall.
(Again I say “we” but I really mean JM! I did some of the work, but we put the wallpaper up 8 days before AJ was born, so I was too pregnant and tired to be of much help!)
The tricky part of using patterned or textured wallpaper is making sure the design lines up correctly from piece to piece. Wallpaper will usually say somewhere on the packaging how often the design repeats. You can figure out how long to make each strip by measuring where you want it on the wall, and then just cutting the paper to the next longest multiple of the design repeat. You’ll end up with a few inches of extra paper hanging over the top or the bottom when you line it up and paste it on the wall, but it’s easy to cut that off later.
Because of the texture in our wallpaper, we were worried about being able to line up the strips of wallpaper closely enough that the pattern matched, and that there wasn’t a gap in texture at the seam between two pieces. But it turns out that you can slide wallpaper around on the wall a bit after you paste it up, so we didn’t have any trouble getting the pattern lined up and the seams super tight.
Can you see the seam in the middle of the center damask below? It’s pretty faint, and after we painted over the wallpaper and wainscoting, the seam basically disappeared!
Once the wallpaper was fully dry, we trimmed the excess paper using a putty knife and a utility knife. If you push the putty knife into the corner, then use the utility knife to slice away the excess paper, the putty knife will protect the paper that’s on your wall so you don’t accidentally slice the wallpaper you want to keep.
Next we attached the horizontal board to hide the top edge of the wallpaper. We cut the boards to length and mitered each end at a 45 degree angle so that the boards would join nicely in the corners. We put Liquid Nails on the back of the board, then held it in place while we used a finish nail gun to nail the board into the wall.
Then we did the same thing using Liquid Nails and finish nails to attach the vertical boards to the wall.
Once all of the boards are installed, it will really start to look like wainscoting! But you’re not quite finished yet. 🙂
If your walls and baseboards and corners are all perfectly square and straight (ha, yeah right! When does that ever happen?!) then you can skip this next step. But most of us will need to compensate for some variation in our walls and boards so that there aren’t gaps where the two meet. The best way to do this is with caulk. Using painter’s tape, tape off the walls and trim, leaving about 1/16” to 1/8″ gap of wall showing. You want the caulk to “bridge” the gap between the wall and the wainscot board, so you need to leave a little bit of wall showing inside of your taped off area so the caulk has something to stick to.
It’s a little hard to see in the photo below, but just make sure your tape isn’t right up against the corner of the joint between the board and the wall.
Then apply a thin bead of caulk to all of the joints to help smooth them out. Hold your caulk gun at a 45 degree angle to the joint, and then move it along the joint so that the tip drags over the bead of caulk you just laid down (I was moving to the left in the photo below). This helps to smooth out the caulk as you go. Then go back over the line with your finger to really smooth it all out and give it that nice curved shape.
(I did this part, and all the taping; hello baby bump! We went to the hospital for AJ’s birth two days after this photo was taken. Nothing like waiting until the last minute to get the nursery finished!)
While we waited for the caulk to dry, we filled all of the nail holes with spackle. Once the spackle was dry we sanded it smooth so that we could paint over it.
Then, once the caulk was dry and the spackle was dry and sanded smooth, it was finally time to paint! We taped up the wall and electrical outlets to protect them from the paint.
I went around the room with a trim brush to paint the wainscot boards and all of the corners and joints, and JM followed me with a roller to paint the textured wallpaper.
We used Ultra Pure White in BEHR Premium Plus Ultra, and it covered in one coat too, just like the Marquee paint for the pink and grey stripes. Which was great, because we did all of this painting on a Saturday night, then on Sunday JM moved the nursery dresser and glider up into the room (it was the only nursery furniture we even had at the time!), and then on Monday morning we went to the hospital for AJ’s birth!
I am just so thrilled with how this nursery turned out! It’s soft and feminine, but I think it will definitely grow with AJ, especially as we started adding industrial furniture and decor to help round out the steampunk theme.
I really love the subtle texture inside each panel of the DIY wainscoting; it’s not super obvious because it’s all painted the same color, but it’s definitely there and I love how it looks!
And all of the joints in the boards turned out really well! The joints at the bottom where Dad cut notches into the baseboard are basically invisible, and the inset joints at the top of the wainscoting look smooth and intentional.
Stay tuned; I have a bunch more DIY steampunk nursery projects to share with you!
DIY Steampunk Nursery
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