Panelling: 5 Step Guide

Throughout the process of panelling the lower walls in our most recent bathroom transformation, we had a lot of questions about how to achieve a panelled wall, what we were doing, what we were using to achieve the desired effect, and how we were doing it. MrB and I didn’t watch any tutorials before hand, we had already completed the more modern block panelled wall in the lounge, and had seen many different interior instagram accounts using beading to achieve a more period style panelled effect and decided we would just give it a go!

This is a really simple 5 step method to achieve the same results based on what we did, which worked for us. We are definitely not experienced at this, and had no idea what we were doing most of the time, but it was a lot more simple than I thought.

For ease, I will keep this Step by Step Guide focussed on the period-style bathroom panelling, but the process is the same for each style and we used the same 5 step method for our lounge panelling. 

Honestly if we can do it, so can you!

Step 1: Measure

Measure twice, cut once!

In fact, measure a MILLION times as this is by far the most important part of the whole process!

With our most recent period-style panelling, we drew everything in place on the walls first, keeping the distance the same between the top of the panelling and the dado rail, bottom of the panelling and the skirting, and between each panel (in our case 9cm). For the box style panelling (like we have in our lounge), do the same!! Draw everything in place on the wall first. Yes, it takes time, but I promise it will make your life so much easier in the long run. We made so many mistakes at first, and the walls were covered in lines as we had measured the wall wrong (nightmare!!), but now no-one would know! It is worth taking your time over this process, as this gives you your end result. 

We firstly measured the length and height of each wall and drew them out on some paper (labelling each one L, R etc.). This made it so much easier to decide on the style of panel we wanted. We were initially torn between having either squares or rectangles, but having a smaller scale in front of us meant that we could play around with both, and made the final decision a lot easier. For the size and height of our walls, we opted for rectangles, but squares leave an equally effective result. 

Once we had decided on the rectangle style, we then had to divide the length of the wall equally, allowing for each 9cm gap in-between the panels. This then left identically sized panel widths. Keeping the 9cm gap the same on each wall meant that we could adjust the width of the panels underneath the window (it was slightly uneven), but to the eye it looked exactly the same as every other wall. 

Double check everything as you go, and go with what you think looks best for you and your walls: no two rooms will be the same (or two walls for that matter!). 

Step 2: Cut

Once the monotonous task of measuring is complete, you have all your exact measurements written down for each wall, and your walls are covered in a pencil template, you are ready to start cutting! 

We chose a larger ornate dado rail and small ornate beading for the edge of the panelling as it gave the best effect in our small room, however if you have a larger wall/room you could get away with a larger dado and larger beading (again go with what looks best in your space). 

We bought the strips of beading in 2.5 metre lengths, and then used an electric cutter to cut the 45 degree angles. We had a lot of cuts so this worked out to be the quickest option, but a mitre block and small hand saw would work just as well. It’s surprising how many cuts you need, and how many strips of beading you will be left with – it is worth keeping all of the same lengths of beading together and labelling them clearly, especially if you have different widths like we did. This meant that we knew immediately what pile of beading was for each space. 

Step 3: Fix

The exciting part! 

This was when I really saw the room come together and got a true sense of how the panelling would look, so take your time and make sure your joins are perfect – it will help when it comes to painting! 

As both our dado and our strips of beading were extremely light, we opted for using just an adhesive to fix them in place, however if your strips are heavier or your wall runs out, you may need to also use a couple of nails to secure them. If you do end up using nails, make sure you use a nail punch to countersink them into the wood – then you can fill over the top and won’t show through. 

We used Unibond: No More Nails and it worked really well! The beading went on easily, and we had enough time to move it into place against the other strips to make sure it was level before the glue set fast. 

Don’t worry if you have a small gap on the join, this can easily be caulked after everything has set if needed. 

Our gaps were so small we didn’t worry about caulking as the paint fills most of them anyway. 

Step 4: Prime

Then it totally transforms! 

We had already primed the walls before fixing any of the wood in place, and our dad rail came pre-primed! (This is such a time-saver, and didn’t cost that much more). So it. Was just a matter of carefully priming the smaller panels. 

We chose a combined primer and undercoat to give the best finish, and provide the best base for the paint to go on. We also decided to do two coats of this so we had a solid white base, which would give us a true representation of the colour we had chosen. 

Using a small brush, we painted around the outside edges and inside edges first, before going over the central part of the beading to make sure every crease and crevice was covered. This took time! We could have probably used a bigger brush, but for me this was so important to get right, and we didn’t mind spending a bit longer over each section. 

The end result was incredible! We loved it so much, we actually considered leaving the panelling white. 

However, we stuck to our guns and honestly couldn’t be happier…

Step 5: Paint

The final stage! 

The final colour really makes it stand out against the flooring and finishes off the overall effect. After taping all of the edges and window sill with decorator tape, and protecting our flooring, we used the same technique to paint each individual panel sectioned dado rail with a smaller brush, to make sure all of the edges were covered evenly. We then used a roller to cover the larger sections of the panels, and leave a smooth finish. 

Don’t worry about brush marks after the first coat! The white will show through, and it will be patchy. Don’t panic! The second coat will cover everything. 

We decided to also paint the skirting boards the same colour as the panelling, and it gave the room more of a period feel. 

Once both coats are on, remove the decorators tape and use a small brush to touch up any areas that you might have missed, or that the tape might have knocked. Then you can leave it all to dry and relax!. 

A labour of love, but one that has had the most incredible impact on the room. 

{We used Neptune paint: Shell for the walls, and Shingle for the panelling}

Jug: Neptune
Vase: HM Home
Pampas Grass: Little Deer
Wood Tiles: Topps Tiles
Beading: Champion Timber
Paint: Neptune

If in doubt, just go for it! 

Good luck! 




  1. Grace
    May 31, 2019 / 11:21 am

    Love it – feeling inspired!

    • stripesandsage
      May 31, 2019 / 11:23 am

      Ahh yay! So pleased 🙂 x

  2. David
    August 9, 2020 / 10:01 am

    What is the two colours you have used? Looks amazing!

    • stripesandsage
      September 23, 2020 / 11:38 am

      Thank you! They are two Neptune paint colours: Shell and Shingle

      • Mary Blyth
        March 27, 2021 / 10:15 pm

        Reading every article I can find on Pinterest – and yours looks amazing, just perfect. I’m a big Neptune fan and your mouldings look very like the Neptune Chicester range – could I ask where you purchased your Dado rail & mouldings from please? My walls re all drawn up and although a bit nervous I am really eager to start

        • stripesandsage
          June 4, 2021 / 5:33 am

          Thank you so much, I’m so sorry I’ve only just seen this. I hope it went well !!

    • Danielle West
      June 3, 2021 / 8:59 pm

      Hi can you tell me if the shingle colour you used was eggshell or emulsion please?

      • stripesandsage
        June 4, 2021 / 5:32 am

        Hi! It’s eggshell. As it’s a bathroom we wanted something a bit more hard wearing.

  3. Tom
    May 13, 2021 / 6:38 pm

    Looks amazing! Where did you get the beading and dado from/what is it called? I can’t find one like this anywhere!

    • stripesandsage
      June 4, 2021 / 5:34 am

      So sorry I’ve only just seen this! They’re just from b&q

  4. Angie
    May 14, 2021 / 9:27 pm

    What type of paint did you use? Eggshell or Matt Emulsion?

    • stripesandsage
      June 4, 2021 / 5:32 am

      Hi! It’s eggshell. As it’s a bathroom we wanted something a bit more hard wearing.

Leave a Reply