Have you ever been drawn to a room, but can’t quite figure out what exactly it is you like about it? It just feels nice? Often times that “feeling” is millwork that presents the perfect backdrop for an interior setting. This tutorial has been requested numerous times, and Emmett & I finally had time to put together a very detailed DIY post for you… how to install panel moulding- like a professional finish carpenter. Click through for some information on millwork, panel moulding, and of course to see & save the tutorial!
I’ve talked about millwork multiple times here on the blog… it’s an element of home design I’m pretty passionate about. I wanted to direct you to a couple past posts if you haven’t visited those yet… they’re must-reads:
- How to Select Millwork Profiles (which includes millwork links for the profiles we’re using in our current home)
- My Thoughts on Moulding & Millwork (how to find the profile that works best for your house, book recs, the “formula”, rookie mistakes, and more)
This particular post is specifically about panel moulding INSTALLATION. Our goal is always to create professional looking millwork that withstands the test of time (in terms of design and craftsmanship… no splitting seams, etc). If you’ve ever wondered how to get the gorgeous look of panel moulding, we’re breaking it down… and I promise it’s much easier than you’d expect.
This is what we use to install panel moulding (see below). Panel moulding installation is not difficult at all. It’s just time consuming and requires patience. I actually classify this as a beginner DIY, so it’s definitely a fun project to add to your list!
SUPPLIES + TOOLS
- finishing nailer (with compressor)
- wood glue
- miter saw
- laser level (with tripod)
- regular level
- sanding block
- miter clamp set
- panel moulding millwork (we used this profile from Metrie)
Step 1 // Measure and plan. I typically create the design plan that includes measurements and then Emmett & I will mark it off together, making adjustments as needed. A laser level is really helpful for this step of the process!
Step 2 // Make your cuts and dry fit. Emmett prefers to cut multiples at a time, once he has the precise measurement. Using a miter saw, begin cutting your pieces.
Dry fitting is very important to ensure your miters align and the length is accurate. First we test the vertical pieces…
Then we test the horizontal pieces, and make sure they fit together nicely. If all of the pieces are accurate and working well, move onto the next step!
Step 3 // Level and nail. We always begin by installing the top piece of the rectangle first. Even though we have the laser level set up, we double check with our handheld level… this also happens to be the amount of spacing I sketched between the top of the panel moulding and the chair rail, so it comes in handy for measuring negative space, too!
Once it’s perfectly level, use the finishing nailer to secure it to the wall. We insert nails every 10-12 inches.
Step 4 // Glue the edge and secure with a miter clamp. Next, dab a bit of glue onto the unfinished miter of the vertical piece…
Align it and secure the miter using a miter clamp. It’s ok if a little glue squeezes out… we’ll clean this up later!
Step 5 // Nail the vertical piece in place. Once your miter clamp is set, use the finishing nailer to secure it to the wall.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You do NOT have to nail panel moulding into a stud. However, to ensure it stays put, with your finishing nailer- drive a nail in from opposing directions. I’ll share examples below…
In the above image, Emmett is driving a nail from the top downward into the piece of panel moulding. In the below image, you’ll notice he is driving the nail from the bottom upward into the panel moulding. These two nails are placed about an inch apart. This nail placement will lock the piece into place to create a secure, permanent set (since we’re not nailing into a stud).
Step 6 // Repeat the process until three sides of your rectangle have been installed. When you get to the lower horizontal section- only nail HALF of it. The section in between Emmett’s fingers, pictured below, has not been nailed and secured yet, because this will allow us literal “wiggle room” to create a tight miter.
Step 7 // Install the last piece and secure the miters. Next, move onto the last vertical piece, securing it with glue and a miter clamp. Then add the remaining finishing nails. This includes the other half of the lower, horizontal piece. Once the entire rectangle has been secured with glue, miter clamps, and nails, move onto the next step.
Step 8 // Wipe the excess glue. Next, wipe any excess glue that squeezed out after clamping the miters. It is much easier to wipe and remove wet glue than it is to sand dried glue after it has cured. Once it’s cleaned up, allow the glue to cure before moving onto the next step.
Step 9 // Fill the nail holes. Pictured below, is our favorite filler for millwork! We’ve tried a LOT and this stuff is the best. Fill the tiny nail holes, making sure you have excess to sand for a smooth look (more is better than too little at this stage).
Step 10 // Sand the filler. Once the filler has set, it’s time to sand the profile smooth. We’ve found sanding blocks make this step quick and easy.
Step 11 // Caulk and paint. After you’ve sanded the millwork, caulk the edges to make it look custom and finished. Once the caulk has completely set, then you can move onto painting! Emmett prefers using our paint sprayer, but I prefer using a nice paintbrush with a good self leveling paint to eliminate brush marks.
Since we’re still in the process of installing millwork in our guest bedroom, we haven’t quite reached the caulking and painting phase yet… but you can see some spaces we’ve finished in the past below.
You can use panel moulding to frame a wall, frame a vignette, enhance your architecture, add balance, and texture. Sometimes I choose to paint it the same color as the wall for a monochromatic look, while other times a little contrast is nice! It totally depends on the aesthetic you’re trying to achieve.
I hope this detailed tutorial was helpful! If you have any questions at all, please leave them for Emmett & I in the comment section below. This is truly a quick project that has the ability to totally transform a room. I’ve actually been noticing more people attempting panel moulding projects and I’m always happy to see their personal DIY process. This is what works well for us, gives a professional end result, and withstands the test of time. I hope your week is off to a good start!