working with finicky wood sheets

Even as I was in the store purchasing my first house, Real Good Toys’ Beachside Bungalow, there was one interior design feature I knew I wanted to include: beadboard. To me, beadboard personified the bungalow-style home. I wanted it everywhere, walls and ceilings, in every room. I bought a 10-pack of sheets and was on my way.

A general rule of thumb is to prime all to-be painted surfaces, so I laid out most of the 10 sheets and slapped on a rough coat of Kilz. After it dried, I finished with two careful top coats of white semi-gloss.

If you’ve made this same mistake yourself, you may anticipate what comes next. The sheets warped. Badly. I figured they’d settle down with glue, but when I tried to apply them to the ceiling, they didn’t. I removed them and tried to wipe off the glue, and then I set them under heavy weights for a couple of days. A little better, but still a distinct curl. I ended up re-glueing them to the surface and again weighing them as they dried. It was better, but then I discovered another problem, which was the seams stood out like sore thumbs. The entire process was an exercise in frustration, and it effectively discouraged me from going crazy with beadboard for the rest of the rooms. I went with shiplap-style wallpaper instead.

Despite the poor result, I was set on a board and batten exterior for my next project, the Westville. The Westville is a Carpenter Gothic-style home, and from what I’d read, this was the preferred siding.

Between my first and second house, I did a little reading. Earth and Tree offered some excellent advice on how to successfully apply sheet wood, including that painting should happen after the application. Also, some glues were more appropriate for the job, and the method of applying them is key. Unfortunately, I only got up to step three of nine before diving into an exterior application of the board and batten, so as you can imagine, it, too, did not result in a resounding success.

I have since re-reviewed Earth and Tree’s advice and it is the best source I’ve found for the application of wood sheets. There are some wonderful wallpapers that mimic architectural details like beadboard, but I don’t think anything matches the real thing. So, if I could offer one piece of advice to ensure you have a more satisfactory result: Install sheet wood, it’s beautiful; but read and follow the instructions through step nine.

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