I was going to write a topic about this – but found a great summary on Cottage Home Decorating. I’ve replicated it here for you, but you can read it in its full glory on their site.
Okay, you have decided to try your hand at installing beadboard paneling. When it was first used in the very early 1900’s it was made up of tongue and groove strips, run vertically, to create a striped or paneled effect. It was very solid and had gaps that allowed for expansion and contraction due to humidity and weather. Today, bead board paneling is a solid sheet of wood, with grooves tooled in by machine. It is less expensive to buy and much easier and quicker to install. So let’s get started!
Are you going to leave the paneling unfinished, lightly stain it, or paint it? Let me help you decide. A light wood, left unfinished and not too smooth give a warm, rustic, casual feel to a room. Harder darker woods with heavy staining are more formal, contemporary and classic, in a rich, darker way. Painted bead board can be anything you want it to be, depending on the color and sheen your choose!
When installing beadboard, you really want to have trim molding, both on the top and the bottom of the paneling. This creates a finished, neat line above and below, and can also hide uneveness that can appear after a time, due to settling.
So, have you chosen your bead board in tongue and groove or as paneling? They both can be purchased at any home improvement store. Or, you may want to look for recycled bead board from a reclaiming construction company. Going green is always a nice idea, but be very critical when you purchase this way. It needs to be level, undamaged, and you need to make sure you aren’t getting panels with cutouts that don’t match the outlets, switches, and thermostats in your home. If there are some, make sure they give you extra panels to work with.
Assuming that you have chosen to install the paneling, rather than tongue in groove, here is what you need in the way of supplies and tools:
How To Start Installing BeadBoard
Using a level, draw a pencil line around the entire room at the height the paneling will be installed at (or just the length of the wall you are paneling, Captain Obvious). Cut all your paneling to that height. At this point you should still be friends, enthusiastic and energetic.
Installation is about to begin.
1.) Apply paneling adhesive in a zigzag manner over the back of the first board.
2.) Place the board, starting in a corner of the room. You need the paneling to “look” straight, even if your level says it is slightly off. The corner has to be parallel to the striping in the board…minor adjustments can be made when you get to the other corner to make it appear straight there as well. (This step has potential to become your first disagreement. It requires beer number two and a second sip of wine).
3.) Square the panel and nail it to the wall studs, using your paneling nails. You want to nail it in place in places where you can’t see the nail heads, such as the tongue edge and wherever moldings will hide it. Repeat, working your way around the room from corner to corner. When securing the bead board panel to the wall, leave about a 1/8th inch gap between the end of the bead board panel and the corner to allow for thermal expansion. Likewise leave a 1/8th inch gap around doors, windows, and cutouts for electrical outlets and switches.
4.) You will not usually be able to use a whole panel at each corner. To cut one, lay it face down and, using a circular saw, cut the desired width. This is also a good time to make corrections to continue to give the appearance of straight walls. As long as the corner doesn’t hit in a groove portion of the panel, it will be unnoticeable.
5.) Install the bead board molding trim at the top and the base bard trim at the bottom, using, of course, your paneling nails. Quarter round molding is needed for the corners.
6.) If you are installing beadboard all the way to the ceiling, you will need crown moulding or some kind of trim.