How to Panel a Wall: DIY Wall Panelling in 7 Steps

Panelling your wall at home is an easy way to completely transform the look of a room. It is a really simple DIY task, and Speedy will talk you through all the steps below.

Whether you’re after a full floor-to-ceiling shiplap/tongue and groove style boarding to cover the walls in the understairs boot room or half-wall board and batten style behind your bed, the methods are pretty similar.

When doing any decorating and DIY, always wear PPE. Eye protection and a mask will be vital here as dust will be created, and you’ll also want to wear work gloves when using tools such as nail guns and saws.

If painting, cover all exposed skin and wear a mask, too.


What You Will Need:

Ideally, this is a two-person job, as you’ll need some help positioning the panels and ensuring they’re straight.


SPEEDY TOP TIP: Use a 2nd Fix Nailer for panelling a wall, as it will leave less of an impression on the wood, and is for more delicate jobs.


Wall Panelling Step-by-Step Guide


Step 1 – Decide and design

Grab some paper and a pencil and do a rough drawing and design of what you want.

Shiplap or wooden slats which cover the complete walls will be easier to design than a full wall of geometric squares, but this step is still so important.

You’ll have to decide whether you want thick or thin MDF, too. Thinner can be a bit less stand-out and more subtle, but thicker MDF will be easier to work with and will cover more of the wall.

Once you’re happy with the plans, measure up.


Step 2 – Measure

Measure your wall using the tape measure. You’ll need both the width, to check how many panels you require, and height.

Once you have the full measurements, decide how many panels you will need or how spaced out you want your geometric squares to be. You’ll have to play around with this, so the paper and pencil will come in handy again.

You can take your MDF to a local hardware store such as B&Q to be cut to size, or if you have a saw at home, you can cut it to size yourself.

SPEEDY TOP TIP: Creating a traditional geometric square look with moulding? Remember to angle your corners so they all fit together.


Step 3 – Sand your wall

Use a wall sander to sand your walls and get them as even as possible. If you have any holes, it is a good idea to fill them in and allow the filler to dry before sanding again.

This will ensure the panelling lays flat; you don’t want it to bend and warp over time as this could cause it to snap or splinter.

Remove any dust left behind with a damp cloth or your vacuum cleaner.


Step 4 – Paint the wall

This step may be optional if you’re covering the whole wall with shiplap panelling, but if you will have parts of the wall exposed, it is easier to do this now.

Sanding may mean some of the paint has faded. If you’re painting your panelling a different colour to the wall, this also means you won’t have to be as careful with decorators’ tape once the panelling is fitted.

Painting the whole wall now will mean you only need to use a brush to cover the panelling once fitted. If you’re going to be covering half the wall with panelling, there’s only a need to paint the exposed half.

A paint sprayer could get the job done quicker, especially if you have more painting to do in the home or garden.


Step 5 – Attach the panels

The quickest way to do this is by using a nail gun. It is less messy, and more substantial over time. Position the panel in place and ensure it is even by using your spirit level.

Start with a nail in the centre of the panel after positioning it. This should hold it in place, allowing you to then add more nails without holding it in place.

You can also use adhesive glue, but it is less instant as you have to leave it to dry, and you have to be careful to get it right. If you do use glue, apply 10cm from the edges and leave 30cm between glue blobs at the very most.


Step 6 – Seal gaps and fill holes

Once all of the panels are in place, fill in any small holes created by the nail gun. Allow to dry before sanding with some fine grit sandpaper.

You will also want to seal any gaps around the panels or moulding, using the decorator's caulk. This can also be applied to every joint to make them a bit less visible!

Again, allow to dry fully before sanding with sandpaper.


Step 7 – Paint

Bare wood may be the look you’re going for, but if not, paint the panelling.

You’re going to want paint which is suitable for wood. If you’re using the same paint as the walls, try using a primer beforehand instead.

If you are leaving the wood bare for a natural look, use a stain or varnish. This will need to be repeated every year, but otherwise, you’re done!




Thank you for reading our Speedy Hire blog. Fingers crossed you now have everything you need ready for panelling your home.

When it is time to start your DIY project, Speedy has all of the tools you need to get the job done, available to hire across the UK. Open a Speedy account online to see our full range, and pricing, and to book your hire online. Or pop in-store for further advice.

We also have Click & Collect options on over 400 products, available to pick up from your local depot.


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