Do It Yourself

Wainscoting an Island/Wall

Wainscoting an Island/Wall

Sometimes we have a wall that just needs something! Maybe a fresh coat of paint or trim. In our case we had to take a wall out to make our room look bigger and more open. We knew we wanted to have a pass through or take it out completely. After contacting a contractor to remove the wall (there are somethings I won’t even attempt), we found out that it was not load bearing wall and we were able to take it out completely without a header! Score, right! Luckily, our contractor is also my sister’s Dad, Norm! He is always there for me and willing to listen to my endless ideas! I’m truly happy to have him in my life. He teaches me the tricks of the trade, while trying my way on occasion. 

Now that we have made sure the wall is not supporting our house, it was a go for demo! I love demo! Best rule of thumb is to go slow and clean up as you go. In this case I followed beside Norm and cleaned up. Carried out drywall and removed cabinets. While stopping here and there to be an apprentice. Be careful to avoid any electrical wires, plumbing and gas lines.  I’m not going to go into too much detail on the wall removal or the build of the new pony wall. Most wainscoting is applied to an existing wall. 

Once our pony wall was put in place and stable, we installed drywall and our cabinets and stove. This was a huge step for our little kitchen! I love to bake and needed my oven. This made the pony wall even more sturdy. Now it was time to make it pretty! 

I went to my local hardware store to gather supplies. I needed to get a piece of underlayment lumber that was painter’s grade. You can definitely use the cheaper ones, this just saved me a few extra coats of paint. You could also use a bonding primer before you paint. That will do the trick as well. I also got primed pine trim. I chose primed pine over MDF trim because I was putting it the kitchen and MDF isn’t for rooms with moisture. I got both 1x6 and 1x4 boards in 12-foot lengths. I already own a air compressor and nail gun (thanks to my mother in law!). I also picked up some liquid nails and 2-inch nails for the nail gun. I measured my wall for the underlayment and had the hardware store cut it to size for me. This a great way to do home projects without buying all the tools. They are not always 100% accurate, but for this project it was good enough. I also picked up a nice 1x8x1 piece of oak board. I picked this so it matched our oak floors and butcher block counter tops. I save on stain and polyurethane since we had it from the countertops! 

Assembly is a little tricky. Follow the old rule of measure twice and cut once. After getting your tools arranged and the compressor started, I was ready to go. I laid my underlayment on the floor and applied several snake squiggly lines. I was able to see my stud lines from installing the drywall. I marked an additional line on the top of my wood for a guide, this way I knew where to nail my trim. Place the underlayment flush against the wall and nail it in place.  If you have a wall that is smooth you can skip this step. You can simply apply the trim and paint between the pieces. 

I measured my wall (again) and cut two pieces for the top and bottom. My underlayment wasn’t perfectly plum, so I want to be sure the wall was lined up and even (like I was saying about our local hardware stores cut job). Grab a level and make sure both pieces are level. I attached them with the nail gun and a squiggle of liquid nails for good measure. After they are in place, measure and cut the 4(or however many you like) vertical boards. Attach using the previous method. I spaced them out evenly and stepped back and made sure they looked good before attaching. Follow the same for the sides. I used 1x6 boards for the sides. You may need 1x8 boards, depending on your wall. You may not need them at all if you have existing trim.  

Finishing the wall is pretty basic caulking and painting. I found a few really great tutorials online for the questions I had. You want to fill the holes with a white hole filler that is paintable. I used my finger for tight spots and a small flexible metal putty knife for the flat surfaces. You can use any white caulk for the long seams, apply a thin line and follow behind with a caulking tool or a finger. One of the online videos said to place painters’ tape on the seam to create a channel. The apply caulk and smooth. Remove tape for a clean reveal. I was going to be painting my entire wall white, so I wasn’t worried about the little pieces. Once the caulk had dried, I did a little clean up. I took a small sanding block to the hole filler that I missed. After wiping up the debris with a baby wipe and letting it dry, I was ready to paint. I then applied the painter’s tape to my floor and tile area to protect them. To ensure a good coverage on the exposed wood underlayment, I painted that first with a cabinet approved paint roller. I let it dry completely they painted everything again, this time a painted the trim pieces. Since they were already primed, it went smoothly. I did some touch ups with a one inch brush. 

Once the paint is dry, attach your decorative oak board or any countertop you would like. I attached my board with 2-inch-long nails and used liquid nails. Then I filled the holes with an oak hole filler. Sanded and sealed with water-based polyurethane. I like a brush for this, the roller can add bubbles to the polyurethane and make your finish less attractive. Also, don’t shake your polyurethane, always stir it. 

I absolutely love the character this added to our home. Like I said, some walls just need a little more! It doesn’t hurt if you have a contractor around either!

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