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After painting my fireplace mantel, I still felt like something was missing. It seemed like it was just floating on a big wall. I had been wanting to put up some paneling to break up the huge expanse of wall, and now I knew it had to be done. 

Supplies I used for this project:

  • 1/4” hardboard
  • 3/4” MDF (particle board)
  • Liquid nails
  • Finishing Nail Gun
  • Sand paper
  • Caulk
  • Fusion Mineral Paint Raw Silk
  • Fusion Extender
  • Small brush
  • Roller brush



We used 1/4” hardboard for the backing and 3/4” MDF (particle board) for the cross bars.  MDF and particle board work really well if you want a smooth painted finish. You don’t have to deal with wood knots and there is barely any sanding involved and that is always a good thing in my book! 

Figure out your design by trying to place the cross bars on the seams of the hardboard.  The less seams the better. We laid it out on paper to get the basic design then gave it a try on the wall.  Once we decided what we were going to do we started putting up the paneling.

wall panel design



Glue the hardboard to the wall using Liquid Nails. The sheets are 4’ x 8’ which worked perfectly since we wanted the wall to be 8’. After gluing them we used a finishing nail gun to secure it to the wall. We then added the MDF which we had cut into 4" strips.  

Our design was 2ft. squares which coincidentally (not really) covered all the seams. Again we finished nailed them to the hardboard. When setting the crossbars be sure you use a level. 




All the crossbar edges have to be sanded to take the sharp edges off.  Nothing intense, just a quick swipe. Next, everywhere the crossbars meet the hardboard has to be caulked. I’m really picky about caulking, so that of course is my job. My trick is to barely cut the caulking tip so very little caulk is squeezed out and you don’t have a lot of excess to get rid of.  This takes a while, but it’s worth it for a clean finish. Then all the tiny holes from the finish nails must be caulked and sanded for a super smooth finish.  


Finally the best part! Painting! I used my favorite color, Raw Silk. It’s a beautiful soft white. Before painting, make sure all the sanding dust is removed and everything is smooth and ready for painting.

The best way to paint the paneling is to use a small brush and paint all along the areas that were caulked and feather it out to make it smooth. I then used a roller and rolled the inside of each square covering where I used the brush to smooth it out even more. I then rolled all the crossbars. Again, you want to use very little paint on the roller to prevent roller streaks.  

If you find you are getting brush strokes or roller marks you can use Fusion Extender. It increases the paint's drying time so it has more time to level out. This product is especially useful in Colorado’s dry climate.  

Once it’s all painted, stand back, take a good look, and pat yourself on the back. You are almost done!  This project took 3 coats. I could have used a primer, but I haven’t found a primer I like as much as the paint so I just do an extra coat of paint. 


The wall and fireplace in our family room were complete but another project was brewing in my head ......


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