Introduction: Wainscoting a Small Kitchen Wall (With Magnetic Board)

Picture of Wainscoting a Small Kitchen Wall (With Magnetic Board)

Our house is roughly 60 years old, in great condition but some rooms are still quite old fashioned in the decor. The kitchen has some awful vinyl wallpaper, green flowers or plants or some crazy design on it, I honestly have tried the past 15 years to just not look at it. However I noticed a small section of it start to lift, so, I HAD to tear it off. And once I tore that, I had to keep going!

Once it was all pulled down though, I was left with a bigger problem, the ugly backing paper. It was in really good condition for the most part, the only poor section was where the paper had started peeling. And anyone who has ever removed wallpaper backing knows that it is a hell of a job, just the worst. You need to steam the wall, scrape a little bit, clean your scraper, steam some more, and generally waste a day of your life. So I was keen to attempt some steam-free methods.

I thought about different options and then decided that wainscoting would be the easiest, cheapest, and nicest choice. I also decided to include a whiteboard and magnetic board in it. The whole project is quite easy and cheap to do. Maybe 3 hours work and $80 in it. (Though admittedly, this is a small wall.)

I use rare earth magnets to stick items to the metal sheet mounted behind the whiteboard, it makes for a very clean look and works very well.

I do still need to come up with something for the top 3rd of the wall, or it is paper scraping time for me...

Please, if you think of something, help me out and let me know!

I have a little more info on my website as well: thewoodfather.com

Step 1: Remove Wallpaper and Prepare the Wall

Picture of Remove Wallpaper and Prepare the Wall

Remove the old paper.

Fairly self explanatory and very easy, we just ripped it right off the wall.

Lots of fun. I also pulled off the old skirting as I knew I would be changing it later on.

Step 2: Design the New Wall in Sketchup and Buy Material

Picture of Design the New Wall in Sketchup and Buy Material

I just did this step I to get an idea of the amount of wood required and what the wall would look like in the end.

I also used my Fit It program to help me work out how much wood I should buy.

Seeing as I'm only doing a small wall, I didn't need to get too much.


2 sheets of MDF for the frame, 1800mm x 450mm x 16mm

3 sheets of MDF for the panels, 900mm x 600mm x 3mm

1 sheet White melamine coated MDF, 2400mm x 1200mm x 3mm (Fair warning, this is not what you want to use for a whiteboard sheet, it’s just for a nice clean look to the wall.)

1 Sheet of Galvanized metal – 1800 X 900 X 0.55MM (This is a thin sheet of metal for the backing. Tin snips are more than up to cutting through it.)

I already had primer and top coat to paint the MDF.

Screws, glue, nails, etc.

Step 3: Build the Wainscoting Frame and Mount It on the Wall

Picture of Build the Wainscoting Frame and Mount It on the Wall

I used my Kreg jig to put this together, but I guess you can also just build it straight against the wall.

First things first, rip the mdf into strips, then cut them all to length.

I gave it a dry fit against the wall, then screwed it all together. A couple of screws in each end is more than strong enough to hold it together. This doesn't hold any weight or need to be super strong, screws are fine.

Mount it

Screw it to the wall. A few screws straight into the wall stud mean this will never come out. Surprisingly this wall was quite flat across the face which made the job easier. I was expecting it to be curved so it was a great surprise to find it was flat, not many other walls in my home are! Oh and also, if I had a nail gun I would have used that instead of screws which would be easier to fill in with putty.

I'm only doing a small wall, if it was larger, I may have used some liquid nails or similar to glue it to the wall, to save on filling in the screw heads.

Step 4: Mount the Magnetic Backing

Picture of Mount the Magnetic Backing

Mount a sheet of galvanized metal to the wall for the magnetic backing. (I did level it out after taking this photo.)

Be careful, the metal isn't very heavy but it can still cut right through you.

Don't drop it on your toes.

Step 5: ​Make a Frame for the Whiteboard Section

Picture of ​Make a Frame for the Whiteboard Section

Now, technically I failed here, I used a sheet of 3mm melamine assuming it would work just fine as a whiteboard, but tests showed that the markers left ghost imprints all over the place that were hard to clean. Overtime, I wouldn't be able to clear them away at all.
However I was committed by this stage so I went ahead with my plan. Instead of writing on the wall directly, we’ll use it only as a magnetic board.

I just built a similar frame as per the bottom section, but not divided into three sections. Then the melamine is glued into a rabbet on the backside.

Mount the whiteboard frame

I also inserted a length of 16mm MDF in between the top and bottom section, just to clean up the look and tie them together. This section has a tight fit between the two sections, and is also glued in. I originally was going to use a length of wood which was rounded over, but after seeing how the entire wall was looking with the straight lines so far, I thought a regular 90 degree cut would be better.

I used cardboard wedged in as tight as I could to clamp it until the glue dried. The cookie box is only there so that my kids didn't walk into the clamp which was sticking out.

Step 6: Finish It Up

Picture of Finish It Up

Putty all holes, give it 2 coats of primer and two more topcoats.

Once done, enjoy!

It has made the kitchen seem a lot bigger and I'm very happy with it. I will probably do this down the hallway in the house now that I know how easy and good it looks.

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Bio: Father, Woodworker, Youtuber. http://bit.ly/1Kay1Sy http://www.thewoodfather.com
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