Plank Wall Wainscoting in the Master Bath

For some strange reason, I recently told Kerry, “Hey wouldn’t be a good idea if we made our own wainscoting?” And for some even stranger reason, she agreed that it would be. Not sure why we both liked that idea, but hey, that’s what we went with.

We saw this post on another blog and I really liked the way their walls looked, but I thought it would be cooler for us if we did the boards vertical, and only four feet up from the floor. Before we got started, though, we needed to decide what color paint we wanted above the wainscoting. Kerry had posted a poll on Instagram and the overwhelming winner, and our favorite, was Sprinkle by Valspar.

Sprinkle by Valspar | Burritos and Bubbly

The last time you saw our bathroom, the floor had been installed and grouted, but we had a lot of work to do. After getting back from Ottawa, we had 4 days (where I worked) and one full weekend to get the room ready for a toilet, tub, and sink to be installed. This was our starting point:

Floor grouted | Burritos and Bubbly

Step 1 in getting the wainscoting up was putting a sheet of plywood up on the wall. (Actually I should say that step 0 was cutting eight four-feet-by-four-feet sheets into 4-feet-by-six-inch strips). If you are doing horizontal planks, this isn’t really necessary, because you can nail your horizontal pieces into studs. With vertical ones, though, not every piece is going to be at a stud. So my plan was to put one layer of 4 foot plywood all around the room, and secure that into the studs. Then I would take my vertical strips and use a newly purchased nail gun to nail them into the back piece. Make sense? Pictures might help. That’s my dad helping out.

Plywood installation | Burritos and BubblyA few areas of the room, like around the sink and the windows, required a few precision cuts. We used a lot of math and a jigsaw to get these cuts as close to right as possible.

Sink detail cuts | Burritos and BubblyI seriously expected this process to take about 2 or 3 hours. Instead it took about 8. All the cuts were tricky, and finding the studs was a little harder than I had expected. A house built in 1890 doesn’t really follow the same logic that a modern house would. Sometimes screws just wouldn’t go into the wall. Or they’d get in the wall and just keep on spinning. Anyway, I thanked my dad for the help (seriously, thanks so much dad!) and after day 1 our room had at least the back board of plywood up.

Plywood up | Burritos and BubblyOh whoops, I forgot to tell you that Kerry had painted the top part of the walls already. This color is great. It really goes from a nice blue to almost green, depending on the light. And you’ll notice that we primed this sheet, even though we planned on covering it up. We had read that, even though you’re only putting a small gap in between your wainscoting boards, you’ll still see through it, so it’s good to at least prime this sheet.

Day 2 moved a little easier than day one, but still required a lot of cutting. Oddly, on day 1, with my dad, we started with the easiest part. On day 2, Kerry and I decided it would be better to start with the hardest part, which would be around the sink. Once we started moving away from that, things went pretty quick.

Installing Wainscoting | Burritos and BubblyKerry would hold the boards up for me and I would nail them in with the gun. Every once in a while she would give the nail gun a shot, but I was having too much fun with it … we got into a good rhythm. Obligatory PSA: Nail guns are not a toy. (But I still had fun with it). To get the gaps, just like The House of Smiths blog above, we used a nickel to keep the boards apart, and every 2 or 3 boards we would level it just to make sure.

Nickel spacer | Burritos and BubblyAfter quite a few hours of work and cuts, we eventually had a wall that started to look how we wanted it. It still needed a sanding at some of the rough parts and a coat of paint, but we could really see the room coming together.

Plywood wainscoting | Burritos and BubblyThat picture above is a real accurate representation of the color in that room. So cheery, right? I would have loved to stop at this point but there was literally no time to waste. Our next step was adding a baseboard.

Baseboard | Burritos and BubblyAgain, a house built in 1890, the floors aren’t exactly level. I tried to level things out as much as possible when putting the tile in but in some spots there was just nothing I could do. So, not pictured here, we also installed some quarter round at the bottom of the baseboards to cover up any of these gaps. Honestly it was just more excuses to use the new nail gun so I was really excited about it. When that was done all we had to do was paint.

Panting Wainscoting | Burritos and BubblyAnd that was it. The bathroom is completely totally done! No just kidding. These were the essential things we wanted to get done before the professionals came out to install the toilet, sink, and tub. We still have a few more projects, like caulking the corners of the baseboard, and adding a molding to the top, but the room is SO CLOSE to done at this point. Keep checking back over the next few days to see some “closer to final” pictures.


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