Damaged Bathroom Walls and How to Make Molding Look Professional

Damaged Bathroom Walls and How to Make Molding Look Professional

Author – Chris G.

I was remodeling a bathroom in an older home with tongue and groove pine walls. The wood was water damaged and had been painted so they didn’t lend themselves to any reasonable repair.

After exhausting the idea of stripping and sanding, I thought about covering the old wood with new, thin bead board panels. This would cover all of the old damage and provide a clean new look while still maintaining the country feel of the home.
The panels cost about $20 each, and it took six of them. Because I was covering all of the old walls, I was able to cleanly move things around like enlarging the medicine cabinet and changing the location of the vanity light. For this particular project, I even converted a linen closet to accommodate a washer dryer unit which will be shown in a later post.
The panels come 4′ x 8′ which makes them a little cumbersome to use but they are light weight enough to get them around. They cut easily with a circular saw, and I found that they can even be cut with a utility knife. This proved especially useful when I was connecting vertical seams. By cutting with the knife, I was able to follow the existing groove and make a perfectly straight cut. (Always keep in mind what you are cutting over. I once ran my saw into a finished hardwood floor. Oops!)

I had two options for working around the moldings:
1. Leave them in place and cut the bead board to fit around them. Then, caulk the joint.
2. Remove the trim, cut the bead board to fit the entire opening and replace the trim over the bead board.
I chose the former because the trim was thick and the process saved valuable time and effort. The baseboards, however, were removed and replaced as most of the damage was low on the wall.
To create clean corners I bought “quarter round” and nailed it in. Where the quarter round meets the baseboard I cheated a little by cutting it at an angle and caulking the gap rather than shaping it with a coping saw.

photo 1

The end result is not much different and as my college chemistry professor used to say, “a difference that makes no difference, is no difference.”

photo 2

Here’s a painting tip:  caulking (approximate cost of $1.50) the gaps between the trim, and the wall can make your DIY project look professional. Use a latex caulk. Squeeze in a bead. Smooth it with your finger. Wipe up the excess with a wet sponge. Then, when painting, paint the trim first and the wall second. If you get wall paint on the side of the trim you’ll never notice, but if you get trim paint on the wall you’ll see it every time.
When attaching the paneling, I was able to simply nail them in since the old walls were solid wood. You might need to use a panel adhesive and/or find studs to nail to. This can complicate the process but don’t be discouraged. A studfinder is a valuable tool and isn’t very expensive. Find your studs and mark where they are on the floor and ceiling so you can still reference them when you cover the walls. (Side note from Donna – You can also purchase a battery operated stud finder that will let you know where the stud is just by dragging it along the wall as you need to nail in your project.  I use this with success, and I have one that even tells me where electrical wiring is located so I don’t make a mistake.)
Another great look is to just cover the bottom half of the wall and add a trim to the transition. This is a great option if you are redoing a room that’s been wallpapered. That way you only have to fight half the wallpaper battle.
The final result was bathroom that felt clean and fresh with walls that looked brand new.

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6 thoughts on “Damaged Bathroom Walls and How to Make Molding Look Professional

  1. I love this. I’ve been thinking of doing this in my powder room and you may have just persuaded me 🙂

    1. Donna

      I’ll have to have Chris tell about the bathroom remodel because I have some great pictures of what he did. I think you’ll be even MORE inspired!

  2. Perri Pender

    This sounds like something I should be able to do, and that is saying alot

    1. Donna

      Of course you can do it!!!

  3. Debbie Turner

    Heeeeyyyyy… I KNOW this bathroom! It looks absolutely fantastic! Great Job!

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