Inexpensive Plank Wall How To


The half bath.. there are a LOT of layers ANNND… here is another one.  Believe it or not, I was a bit ahead of the curve and I started a plank wall two and a half years ago… Unfortunately for me, it took me that long to finish the project, not because it is hard, but because I ran out of planks, and then I just got bored with the project!  ( I think it is a sickness for me… boredom well, that and remodeling!)


In our first house we did the same plank wall look, and I LOVED it.  So I guess I just copied myself… should I be flattered?  Maybe I should pat myself on the back.  I guess the truth of the matter is, we finished that project only a few months before we left so I felt like I should have enjoyed it more.  I chose not to do any wainscoting on my second house intentionally, but when we moved into the third, my love for wainscoting burst right back out of me and so that is what we did in the living room and the half bath…

Because our front room also has wainscoting, I didn’t want it to be exactly the same.   So I thought the panel thing would be an interesting change.



Inexpensive Plank Wall How To



1/8” Masonite 4’ x 8’  board cut into 4” x 8’ strips (there will be a piece that is less than 4” at the end, you can use that under the base molding, which is what we did)

Construction Adhesive



Sanding Block for Edges

Brad Nailer

Tile Spacers 1/8” or 1/16” inch is perfect!


1. Be sure your walls are clean, prepped and ready to install the paneling.  I would carefully remove any existing baseboards/ or trim pieces and replace them on top of the paneling to give you the most finished look.


2. To begin, cut your 1/8th inch Masonite on the tables saw into 4” strips.  To make it more manageable, we cut ours into 3- 16 inch strips, but this will add to the waste if you don’t account for the thickness of the table saw blade in your cut.


3. In the room that you are installing paneling on, find your registration line.  With a laser level, and mark all the way around the room.  I lined up the bottom row with this line around the room,



4. Carefully attach the first row in place using a bead of construction adhesive on the back of the board ( I usually do a squiggly “S” line along the back) and use a brad nailer to secure the board in place while  the glue dries.  I would do this around the room to begin.




5. For the second row, add glue to the back of the board, carefully eyeball the location.  Place it on the wall, stick the tile spacers in the gap you are creating between rows, and level out the board.  Then nail in place to hold it.  Continue in the same way all the way up the wall.  Be sure to stagger end joints(as you can see above, I did 1/3’s of the length of the first first board) through out to keep it looking right. (you can see that my tile spacers are sideways… I just used what I had on it’s side….)



6.  Keep the corners tight and clean like above


Okay  this is where we got a little crazy.  In our half bath the previous owner plastered over a wallpaper border… instead of removing it.

IMG_4556 copy

Which meant it looked awful!  I cant stand the texture on the walls anyway, so I decided to cover the top portion with a sheet of Masonite just to smooth out the wall.  This is not necessary, we just wanted to do it.


In the picture below you can see the painted vrs unpainted planks.… the painted wall is what I got done the first time 2 1/2 years ago…. the brown is what I did not get done… oh man, that is embarrassing.  Obviously I am extremely tolerant of unfinished projects.

planking half bath walls copy


Okay, so you will have to forgive all the picture I took from the porcelain throne.  This is what the room looked like, you can see how it would feel if the room were dark… sort of confining.  There are still a few spots that need planking (above the mirror and door)

planking half bath walls2

Ah… while these pictures look a little blown out, I am already loving the white!  Painting the planks took a LONG time, I cannot tell a lie.  It was a pain the the patootie!   I used a brush to fill the cracks and had to be REALLY careful about drips, then I immediately rolled it smooth with a foam roller to avoid paint brush lines… and I did that about 3 times, and probably needed to do it one more time.


I decide to add a color to this bathroom in the form of a light blue/green.  I was really happy with how it felt once I got it painted. It was custom mixed because I didn’t like it the first time ( I used the same color on my family room ceiling!)  Here is the color tag from Home Depot.



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Okay so above the door and mirror it was blank… I thought it would be a good idea to throw some planking above them for interest, and at the same time we changed out the light.  We used a simple $30. fixture from HD.

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Once all the planking was up and primed, I painted the wall above the wainscoting, then I started painting the molding, that we were putting all around the small space.





Here is the before: unfinished corners everywhere… So we began, with painted 1 x 4;s to wrap each edge of the wall, corner and the ceiling.  (sorry about the color discrepancies… these were taken all over in time of day and amount of light…)


planking half bath walls5


So, we had a piece on the wall and a piece on the ceiling. Then Justin installed the door casing/molding which we took from floor to ceiling, and the mirror trim (I’ll explain more about that below), then the base molding and finally the cap for the wainscoting.  Then when those were all in, he installed the corner moldings.  (there is nothing like trash all over the place in pictures…)



For the mirror, we did a little extra work. We needed a few spacers (hence the unpainted Masonite in the picture below) when the wall was ready to install the molding, we put the bottom horizontal piece below the mirror, then the 2 vertical pieces on the back wall from sink to ceiling.  Then we put the wainscoting top and cap on so that these pieces would be layered on TOP of the mirror wall molding.  Finally we added the other 4 pieces of corner molding above and below the wainscot cap.  ( I outlined the order in the image below)

The reason for all the extra work is that we wanted the cap or ledge piece of the wainscoting to be layered on top.  We also decided to build in a frame to install after the molding was installed because I don’t like how the “cap of the wainscoting overlaps the “mirror frame” see the picture below.

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One little detail that we always try to remember to do is round all butted edges.  I have found that no matter how well you fill and sand butted edges, they crack and look bad after only a short time.  So our compromise is making the edge intentional, and give it a detail, to keep the lines looking their best.  These rounded edges also match the corner edges of the MDF we installed, so it really makes sense.


A LOT of patching and sanding later, we got a few final coats on the bathroom wall and were pretty much done with the space… all but the vanity and mirror, that and accessorizing.


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So in the end, what did the walls and moldings look like?  Something like this!  I will show you the rest tomorrow!




If you want to see the rest of this bathroom transformation… check out half bathroom before, installing a pocket door, the inlaid tile rug and installing the new faucet.

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Cassity Kmetzsch started Remodelaholic after graduating from Utah State University with a degree in Interior Design. Remodelaholic is the place to share her love for knocking out walls, and building everything back up again to not only add function but beauty to her home. Together with her husband Justin, they have remodeled 6 homes and are working on a seventh. She is a mother of four amazing girls. Making a house a home is her favorite hobby.

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    1. I think “lazy” might be the real word Korrie, I just used what I had sitting in the bathroom, since I had just finished the tile, the spacers happened to be right there.

  1. Have you used masonite before? What a novel idea but how do you think it will hold up in a bathroom? Love the pictures and tutorial . . thanks for sharing!

    1. This is the first time that we have used masonite in this way. It worked great and I think it would hold up just fine. It’s a half bath, so it won’t have a lot of moisture issues. It has been painted with about 3 to 4 coats of paint to protect it.

    1. Just for the masonite it was around $30. Then there was all the molding, caulk and the brad nails, that brought the cost up to around $75. I hope that helps.

  2. Hi Cassity! Great tutorial, your powder room turned out beautiful! I’m planning on following your guide for planking my own powder room. I have the same disdain for textured walls and was planning on covering them up the same way you did. I was wondering about how you felt about the ceiling texture? From the pictures it looks like you didn’t cover them up (other than the trim up there). The texture doesn’t seem noticeable in the pictures. So, just wondering does the texture bother you at all on the ceiling or do you not really notice it, just trying to figure out if I want to cover the ceiling up along with the walls. Again, thank you for sharing this tutorial!

  3. What did you choose for the baseboard? I’m about to start this project myself. Does the base board go over the first row of plank wood? I’m not sure how to find the registration line.