How to make a panelled feature wall

Project Overview

Take a plain wall from drab to fab with a grid of timber strips, designed to create a striking feature.

Panel discussion

Transforming a wall from plain to pretty is easy with this technique, which uses strips of timber to create the impression of Shaker-style panelling, and can instantly inject a spartan space with charm and personality.

To ensure a grid pattern of evenly spaced squares, start with a measurement of 450mm: the width of each square taken from the centre of the timber strips. Working from the inside of the existing skirting, cornices and trim, mark out the grid on the wall, adjusting the final measurement to suit. If you have a large wall, it may be more visually effective to increase the grid to 500mm.

Photo credit: Brigid Arnott and Natasha Dickins.

Continue to step-by-step instructions

Step by Step Instructions

1 Mark it up
2 Cut and secure your rails
3 Do the same for the rows
4 Start on the next rail
5 Time to paint
  • Step 1. Mark it up

    Mark out the rails (horizontal) 450mm apart on the left and right sides of the wall, working upwards from the floor. At four squares high, the top rail should measure about 1830mm from the floor. Add another row if you have high ceilings. From left to right, mark out the stiles (vertical) 450mm apart at the top and base of the wall. Use a stud finder and mark the studs with painter’s tape to show where the rails will be nailed. The stiles are simply nailed into the wall.

    Safety tip: Before attaching the timber pieces, use a stud finder that has the capability to detect live wires and pipework.

  • Step 2. Cut and secure your rails

    Measure the width of the wall at the base and use the mitre saw to cut a rail to fit. Zigzag adhesive along the back of the rail then position the rail against the wall. If your room has skirting boards, rest the rail on top of them. Secure with two nails into each wall stud.

    Note: If your wall is wider than 2.7m, make sure the rails meet over a wall stud so the ends can be nailed securely.

  • Step 3. Do the same for the rows

    Cut stiles for the row to be 383mm long. Working on one at a time, apply adhesive and position using a combination square to ensure it is straight. Secure with nails.

    Note: Its quicker and easier to use a nail gun, but you can also use a claw hammer with small 25mm bullet head nails.

  • Step 4. Start on the next rail

    Measure and cut the next rail to fit, apply adhesive to the back, position it to rest along the top of the stiles, then nail into studs. Cut and install the row of stiles, then repeat to finish with a rail along the top.

  • Step 5. Time to paint

    Smooth over nails and joins with timber filler, leave to dry, then sand. Using a mini roller and a paintbrush to cut into the corners, apply at least two coats of paint, leaving to dry between coats.

    Tip: For a masonry wall, create the panelled grid on a backing of 6mm x 915mm x 1830 standard MDF panels then attach it to the wall using masonry anchors. If you have the space, paint the panels before installing them, then fill, sand and touch up over the fasteners.

Tools and Materials

Tools

  • Safety equipment
  • Pencil
  • Stud finder
  • Painter's tape
  • Mitre saw
  • Caulking gun
  • Brad nailer with brad nails
  • Combination sqaure
  • Mini paint roller and tray
  • 50mm angled cutter paintbrush

Materials

  • 180-grit abrasive paper with sanding block
  • Selleys Liquid Nails Fast Grab adhesive
  • 2.7m length of 67mm x 11mm primed pine
  • Timber filler
  • Paint in your chosen colour

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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