Installing a beadboard backsplash is a great way to add visual interest and a touch of classic style to your kitchen. Beadboard, also known as wainscoting, consists of panels with small, grooved indentations that create a distinctive lined pattern. The end result is a textured, elegant backsplash that pairs beautifully with many kitchen designs from traditional to farmhouse.
Installing a beadboard backsplash is also a relatively easy DIY project for those with basic carpentry skills. While professional installation will provide the best results, you can absolutely tackle this project on your own with the right materials, tools, and preparation.
Below you’ll find a step-by-step guide walking through the entire beadboard backsplash installation process from start to finish. We’ll cover planning and prep work, cutting and installing the beadboard panels, caulking and sealing, and adding trim for a polished look. Read on for pro tips and tricks to help you install your beadboard backsplash like a pro.
Choose the Right Beadboard for Your Space
There are a few options when it comes to selecting beadboard for your backsplash project:
Plywood Beadboard Panels
- Also known as lath, these are thin sheets of plywood with v-grooves carved into them in consistent intervals.
- Often made from pine.
- Come in 4×8 sheets that can be cut down to size.
- Budget-friendly option for covering large areas.
- Relatively lightweight.
- Prone to warping if not installed properly.
- Made from medium density fiberboard with a v-groove pattern.
- Sturdier and less prone to warping than traditional lath boards.
- Heavier than pine beadboard.
- Can withstand moisture better than pine.
- More expensive than pine but provides a quality look.
- Constructed from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) with an embossed beadboard pattern.
- Completely waterproof and moisture-resistant.
- Easy to clean.
- Won’t rot or warp.
- Large 4×8 sheets for fast coverage.
- Can cut with a saw or score and snap by hand.
- More expensive than wood varieties but lasts longer.
Tongue and Groove Beadboard
- Beadboard panels with an interlocking tongue and groove edge.
- Creates a seamless look once installed.
- Grooved planks available in pine, oak or PVC.
- Offers vintage charm and architectural detail.
- More time consuming to install with focus on tight seams.
Consider moisture levels, budget, and the style you’re going for to select the right beadboard panels for your kitchen backsplash. Plan the layout to determine how much material you need to purchase.
Gather the Right Tools and Materials
Installing beadboard requires some basic woodworking tools and materials, including:
- Tape measure
- Stud finder
- Circular saw or table saw
- Caulk gun
- Brad nailer/compressor
- Utility knife
- Beadboard panels
- Wood trim
- Finish nails
- Brad nails
- Construction adhesive
- Wood putty
Safety gear like gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask are also recommended. Ensure you have all the necessary tools and supplies before starting work.
Prepare the Area
Proper planning and prep work will ensure your beadboard backsplash installation goes smoothly. Follow these tips:
- Remove existing backsplash if there is one. Scrape off any adhesive residue.
- Clean the wall surface thoroughly and repair any damage like cracks or holes.
- Find wall studs and mark their locations with painter’s tape for reference.
- Plan your beadboard layout. Account for outlets, cabinets, and edges.
- Measure and mark level horizontal lines to guide beadboard placement. Use a level.
- Cut beadboard panels to size as needed with a circular saw.
Taking time to properly measure, map out the design, and cut panels makes installing the beadboard much easier.
Apply Adhesive to the Wall
Applying a quality construction adhesive before installing beadboard helps hold it firmly in place on the wall.
Follow these steps:
- Load adhesive into a caulking gun or lift the pre-loaded plunger on an adhesive tube.
- Run a continuous bead of adhesive along the length of each stud mark. Make vertical lines approx. 12” apart across the installation area.
- Use a caulking gun to apply wiggly S-shaped lines of adhesive to the back of each beadboard panel if desired. Alternately, you can apply adhesive directly to the wall.
- Only apply as much adhesive as can be covered within 30 minutes. The adhesive dries quickly.
- Follow the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions regarding dry time before finishing.
Applying adhesive to both the wall and the back of each panel provides the strongest bond. Take care not to use too much.
Attach the Beadboard Panels to the Wall
Here are the key steps for properly installing beadboard panels on your prepared wall:
- Position the first panel against your horizontal guides and press into place. The bottom edge should sit on the counter or slightly above.
- Drill pilot holes through the beadboard into the studs for finish nails. This prevents splitting.
- Nail the panel into the studs using 2” finish nails. Place nails approx. 8” apart. Avoid hitting the grooves.
- Use a level to ensure the panel is plumb as you work. Adjust as needed.
- Apply the next panel, overlapping the tongue and groove if applicable. Nail into studs. Repeat steps across the installation area.
- Where beadboard seams meet in between studs, drill pilot holes and drive nails carefully to avoid splitting. Or use construction adhesive.
- Make sure adjoining panels are flush. Use a rubber mallet to gently tap seams tight if needed.
- For inside corners, miter cut the beadboard edges at 45°. Use construction adhesive to bond tightly.
- Around outlets, cut holes with a jigsaw to slip the panel around them.
- At the top edge, leave a 1/8” gap between beadboard and ceiling for expansion.
Take your time nailing the panels to get clean, tight seams. Measure twice and cut accurately for a pro beadboard backsplash look.
Caulk and Finish the Seams
For the best appearance, fill all seams and gaps with caulk after the beadboard installation.
Follow these caulking steps:
- Run a smooth, consistent bead of paintable silicone caulk along every seam where panels meet.
- Use a damp fingertip to smooth and spread the caulk into gaps and crevices. Remove excess.
- For inside corners, apply caulk into the seam and use a corner tool to smooth and shape it.
- Let caulk fully dry for 24 hours before painting or staining over it. Drying time varies by products.
- If any gaps remain after caulking, fill them with wood putty. Let dry completely and sand smooth.
Taking the time to properly caulk and finish the beadboard seams results in a flawless look.
Add Trim for a Polished Look
Installing wood trim is the final step to give your DIY beadboard backsplash a professionally finished look:
Inner Corner Trim
- Measure and cut strips of 1×2” wood to fit inside corner seams. Miter cut the ends at 45°.
- Use wood glue and finish nails to secure them in place over corner beadboard seams.
- Cut 1×2” strips to fit along the bottom edge where it meets the counter.
- Miter cut seamless 45 degree angles at corners.
- Use adhesive and finish nails to attach the base trim overhanging the bottom of the panels.
- For exposed edges along cabinets or walls, measure and cut straight 1×2” trim boards to size.
- Attach them with adhesive and nails to hide unfinished beadboard edges.
Take careful measurements and cut trim pieces with precision for the best visual results. Adding trim gives the project a polished, built-in look.
Apply Primer and Paint
The final step is applying a finish coat of paint or stain to fully protect and beautify your new backsplash.
- Lightly sand any dried caulk or putty. Carefully sand edges and corners to ease sharp angles.
- Wipe away dust with a dry cloth.
- For paint, apply 1-2 coats of high quality primer to the entire backsplash, following the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Allow primer to fully dry between coats according to the product directions.
- Use a mini foam roller and brush to apply 2 coats of latex paint in your desired sheen and color. Allow proper drying time between coats.
- For stain, work in sections and apply an even coat with a clean cloth or brush, wiping away excess. Apply protective sealer once fully dry.
Proper priming and finishing seals the beadboard and creates a kitchen backsplash that will last for many years of beauty and service. Enjoy your stunning new DIY beadboard project!
Frequently Asked Questions About Installing Beadboard Backsplash
Installing a beadboard backsplash in your kitchen can take your design to the next level, but it’s understandable to have some questions about the process. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about installing beadboard backsplash.
Is installing a beadboard backsplash difficult?
Installing beadboard backsplash is considered an intermediate skill level DIY project. As long as you have basic carpentry skills and tools, it’s very doable. The most challenging parts are taking accurate measurements, making clean cuts, and getting a tight fit between panels. Having patience and allowing enough time will help the project go smoothly.
What tools are needed to install beadboard backsplash?
You’ll need basic woodworking tools like a circular saw, table saw or jigsaw to cut the panels, a drill, a stud finder, level, nail gun or hammer, caulk gun, utility knife, pry bar, and more. Safety gear like gloves and eye protection is also recommended.
Does beadboard need to be nailed to studs?
It’s best to nail beadboard panels directly into the wall studs for the strongest support. If needed in between studs, you can use adhesive or carefully hand nail. Predrill holes to avoid splitting the boards.
Should I caulk beadboard backsplash seams?
Caulking is highly recommended to fill any visible gaps between beadboard panels. Use a quality paintable caulk, tool it into crevices neatly, and wipe away excess. This gives a seamless look.
How do I cut beadboard backsplash around outlets?
Very carefully use a jigsaw to cut openings in the beadboard so outlets and switches can poke through while keeping panels intact. Take care not to crack the board.
Do I need to prime and paint beadboard backsplash?
Priming and painting is highly recommended to protect the wood and ensure it withstands moisture well in a kitchen environment. Use oil-based primer and latex paint formulated for kitchens.
How much does it cost to install a beadboard backsplash?
The materials may cost $3-$8 per square foot. If installing yourself, expect to spend $300-$800 depending on the size. Professional installation ranges $6-$15 per square foot including materials.
What can I use instead of beadboard?
For a similar look, use shiplap boards, tongue and groove planks, salvaged barn wood, tile with trim, textured wallpaper, faux tin, or painted boards with trim. Get creative!
Installing your own beadboard backsplash is deeply rewarding. With the right know-how and preparation, you can DIY a stunning kitchen focal point to enjoy for years to come.
Installing a classic beadboard backsplash can completely transform the look and feel of a kitchen. While the process does involve careful planning, precision cuts, and attention to detail, it is an achievable DIY project for many homeowners. Arm yourself with the proper materials, tools, and knowledge and you can install a stunning, timeless backsplash.
From selecting the right beadboard panels to properly preparing the work area, applying adhesive, nailing the boards, caulking, adding trim, and final priming and painting, this guide covers the beadboard installation process from start to finish. While it does require some carpentry skills and time, it is very doable for the dedicated DIYer. Just be sure to measure twice and cut once for the best results!
The end reward is a textured, eye-catching backsplash that instantly provides a dose of charm and visual interest. A beadboard backsplash pairs beautifully with many styles from farmhouse to cottage, vintage, and more. As long as the beadboard is properly sealed and maintained, it will stand the test of time even in a busy kitchen.
So don’t be afraid to tackle this project on your own. With the help of this guide and a dash of patience, you can install an elegant, quality beadboard backsplash in your kitchen that you can enjoy showing off for years to come!