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Installing wall panel? Follow these steps from an expert

Wall panelling is a fantastic feature to use in the home and the variety of styles and finishes means it works in almost any interior scheme. Having custom-made panelling installed by a professional is always going to look good and fit perfectly, but the DIY option is a viable alternative if you have a reduced budget; all you need is some careful planning and a little elbow grease. Here are some top tips and expert advice to give you a helping hand.

1. Consider panelling’s uses

There are so many reasons to fit wall panelling in your home. As well as looking beautiful, it has several practical features. It can be used to conceal uneven or unattractive surfaces, and provides a durable wall covering in high-traffic areas, such as hallways and staircases. Panelling can also incorporate a useful shelf or handrail, and is a more attractive way of boxing in services, such as plumbing and electrics. It can also be used as an alternative to tiles in bathrooms and kitchens, although it wouldn’t be as waterproof.

2. Choose your style

The kind of panelling you go for will have a significant impact on the room, so think about the style of your interior, as well as the architectural period of the building. Victorian or Georgian panelling will look perfectly at home in traditional properties with ornate features and mouldings, like this one. For a classic look with cleaner lines, you could opt for Shaker panelling instead.

3. Decide on height

Your next job is to decide how high you’d like your panelling to go. Many people opt for dado height, as these homeowners have done. Another option is to go from floor to ceiling for a dramatic look. Alternatively, you could take it up high but not all the way. Consider other elements in the room, such as architectural features, fitted joinery furniture or windows and doors. As a general rule, thirds are more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, so if you’re looking for an even ratio, try dividing the wall into a third or two thirds, rather than in half.

4. Measure up your walls

Now you know exactly where the panelling is going to go, you can measure how much you’ll need. The method for measuring will depend on what type of panelling you’re going for and how it’s sold. If it’s simply a square meterage, then work it out as you would with tiling: divide the area into rectangular sections, calculate the dimensions of each section, then add them together and tag on 10% for wastage. If you’re ordering lengths of planks, such as tongue-and-groove, take the linear measurement along the walls to be panelled and divide by the width of the board. Again, make sure you add a bit extra to the order for wastage.

5. Think about the extras

Before you place that order, have a think about the additional products you might need to finish off the look. Most companies will offer dado rails to complement their panelling that you can fit on top to finish off the edge. It’s a good idea to order your rail from the same company, as it will be designed to fit your panels. There’s a little notch at the back that fits over the top of the panel and conceals the edge, which is helpful for straightening up wonky edges! A shelf is another way to finish the top edge, by either closing off the open top when boxing in services (more on that below), or simply by fixing it onto brackets fitted to the front of the panelling. Many skirting boards feature a flat edge on which you can rest your wall panel. Otherwise, you may wish to fix your skirting board to the front of the panelling.

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