Creating a beadboard kitchen with salvaged tongue and groove beadboard for a beautiful, historic farmhouse kitchen.
Way back when we renovated on the front hall (the very first room we did), I discovered that my glorious kitchen was full of beadboard. Floor to ceiling, glorious, 120 year old beadboard. And the people REJOICED.
Since that discovery, I have been biding my time. One does not simply discover a room full of beadboard in the kitchen and then NOT plot, scheme, and connive a way to put it BACK one day.
And now? That day has come. After months of work in the kitchen we FINALLY are ready to put the beadboard back in the kitchen. This should be a very straightforward process – you just put the beadboard on the walls.
Well….like all things old house, it is not a straight forward process.
Prep: Salvage ALL the Beadboard
Rule number one of renovating an old house: save EVERYTHING you take out. This goes double for any salvage beadboard or wall covering because you will absolutely have waste when you reinstall it.
When we gutted the study, we found the walls covered floor to ceiling with beautiful, nearly pristine beadboard planks. I shrieked and screamed with delight for I KNEW in my bones, this was my ticket to my beadboard kitchen.
So I saved absolutely every single piece we pulled out. Because YOU NEVER KNOW when a 4.63″ piece with a hole in it MIGHT be exactly what you need.
As with any precious resource, I was VERY concerned about having enough beadboard to do the entire kitchen. It’s a big room! Plus a pantry! Additionally, salvage beadboard costs more than you think (though here is a new alternative that I find pretty reasonable), so I didn’t want to waste any of it.
We found the best way to remove them was using a pry bar and pulling against the studs. Some of the tongues will break – actually almost all of the tongues will break. But that’s ok (more on that in a minute).
We took down each piece, carefully removed nails, and stacked them all in our root cellar building. (Yes it took EXACTLY as long as you think.) All the pieces sat in our root cellar building for over a year. They were warm and dry and happy, just waiting for their return to center stage.
Bottom line: save any salvage beadboard you can. It might be the perfect piece for a project.
Step 1: The Right Tools for a Beadboard Kitchen
You don’t need too many tools to make a beadboard kitchen, but the right tools definitely help.
Step 2: Sort the Beadboard Pieces by Length
Even though it LOOKED like we had a lot of beadboard, I feared it would go up quickly, and we would run out. As much as we wanted to just jump in to putting up the walls, we decided to be a little bit smart about how we used what we had.
We had tons of broken pieces, short pieces, warped pieces, and somewhat unusable piece. But we didn’t have a lot of perfect, long pieces.
Therefore we spent about an afternoon sorting everything we had on hand. We selected enough pieces to complete each of the longest walls and separated them in to stacks. Each stack was counted and labeled with the right number of pieces.
This was…not fun. And honestly very fatiguing because there were just so many decisions to make about each piece. Is this ok? Is that hole too big? Are the pieces long enough?
But once we made our piles and verified we had enough pieces to complete the room, the next steps were much easier. We were able to select the best looking pieces for the most visible areas and minimize the number of seams on the walls.
Bottom line: Have a good inventory of your pieces so you can cover the most space with the least waste.
Step 3: Start with the Longest Wall
We sorted all of our beadboard pieces but…where to start? Which wall should we do first? After a LOT of thinking , we decided to start with the longest wall pieces.
I figured if we start with the longest pieces and work our way down, we won’t accidentally be cutting up anything we really need.
Since we already had our piles sorted, I pulled out pieces one by one, cut them to length, and Brandon hung them up. We had a pretty good system by the end!
After we finished each wall, we moved to the next longest wall. By the end we were doing the short pantry walls and we had plenty of material to choose from.
Bottom Line: Start with the longest wall so you don’t accidentally cut up short pieces you may need later.
Step 4: Hang the Beadboard On A Level Line
If you have an old house, you know that 99.9% of your house is NOT level. Furthermore, the walls aren’t square, planar, level, flat, ANYTHING.
So this becomes a very challenging issue with beadboard because it is a room full of horizontal lines. The secret is to make it as level as possible within reason.
Our counters are level, our windows are level, so not having the beadboard level would be VERY obvious.
To start, we figured out which corner in the room was the highest corner using a laser level (this is my favorite.) Brandon marked a line on all the studs to tell us that is our starting point for the beadboard kitchen.
From there, we installed one piece of beadboard at a time and made sure to raise the laser level after EVERY. SINGLE. PIECE.
Yes. This takes a long time. However it makes sure the beadboard doesn’t start to drift off track. The result is that you get some CRISPY clean corners.
Bottom Line: Hang the beadboard level even if the floor and ceiling are wonky.
Step 5: Attach the beadboard however you can!
Traditionally beadboard planks run horizontally across the walls studs with the groove side down. Then you nail diagonally through the tongue to secure to the wall.
This is a really great way to install beadboard…if your beadboard happens to be nice and new and not warped. Considering this is salvaged beadboard, we didn’t get that lucky.
Most of our boards were cupped, meaning the board was curved slightly and did not lay flat on the wall. So we had some serious interference issues when we tried to install the boards the “right” way.
Instead we used our 16g power nailer to attach the bottom of the boards first. This left the top of the board free and with just a little bit of extra room to install the next board.
After the next board was in place, we nailed the bottom of it and then the top of the previous board.
I will have to fill all the nail holes when I prep the whole room for paint but…that’s the price we pay for a beadboard kitchen. The end result will be WAY worth it.
Bottom Line: It’s ok to face-nail if that’s the only way you can hang the boards.
Who is ready for a beadboard kitchen?
Hanging beadboard in our kitchen took WAY longer than I thought it would (at time of writing in fact, we still have seven and a half wall sections left to do.)
But even with all that work, the outcome already looks AMAZING. Just a few more days and we’ll finally be ready to prep for paint.
Have you ever installed salvaged beadboard?
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