8 Simple Steps For Installing MDF Wall Panelling Kits 

We’ve compiled a How To Guide on fitting MDF wall panelling kits. Everything you need to know to transform your home. 

If you live in the UK and want to learn more about installing MDF wall panelling kits you’re in the right place. 

The decorative wall panelling trend has surged in the last year, we’ve received a number of requests to compile a simple guide on fitting mdf panelling. This guide is for everyone whether you’re a DIY amateur or an experienced interior designer. We’ve noticed a huge increase in searches for tips on ‘DIY MDF Panelling Walls’ and ‘Fitting mdf panelling’ – so we’ve put together wall panelling instructions to help you transform your interior walls.  

With this helpful guide you’ll be able to install wall panels on your own with minimal fuss.

What Will I Need For Wall Panelling?

Before you begin your wall panel project, the must have items you will need are:

  • Wall Panelling Kit
  • A spirit level
  • Heavy duty adhesive
  • Caulk
  • A Saw / Utility Knife
  • MDF Primer
  • Paint
  • Paint Brush / fluffy roller & tray
  • Sandpaper/ electric sander
  • Hammer (optional)
  • Nails (optional)
  • Tape measure

What type of wall panel kit should I buy?

Not all MDF Wall panelling kits are created equal, so take your time and do your research. Read reviews and testimonials to obtain a better understanding of what you’re actually buying. You will also need to think of the style of panelling you want and whether it will span the entire wall or only reach a specific height. 

Wall Panelling Kit from Nottage Timber Merchants https://www.nottagetimber.co.uk/mdf-wall-panelling-strips

Where can I buy panelling kits?

We’re based in the UK so this advice is for the UK consumer only. You can buy panelling kits online or at your local DIY store. Make sure you purchase your kit from a reputable supplier and always read the reviews, if there aren’t any reviews – it might be best to avoid. There are many types of wall panelling styles out there, so ensure you know the style you’re looking for as the strips are cut to spec so you may have measured for a Jacobean wall panel style but end up buying Shaker Style – the length and width of the strips will be entirely different so be prepared. 

I’m A DIY Novice – Are Wall Panelling Kits Hard To Use?

Not really, but it is important that you follow the instructions to the letter. Whether you’ve been doing DIY since you were 7, or can’t tell a mitre saw from a circular saw. Panelling kits are designed for everybody, the process is easy to follow and provided the kit is bought from a reputable supplier – anyone can do it. Of course mistakes can be made, that’s why we’ve highlighted these mistakes in this blog post – so you can avoid them. 

Photo by Roselyn Tirado on Unsplash

How long does it take to panel your walls with a panelling kit?

That entirely depends on the size of the surface area you’re looking to panel. If you’re planning on panelling your entire house, be very generous with the timeframe you choose to do it in. It’s not just a case of sticking strips of MDF to a wall, you will have to prime and paint them too. It’s important to ensure your walls are in good condition before you start your wall panelling project, but we’ll go into more detail with that section later. If you’re panelling just one medium sized wall – we would allow 1-2 hours to fit the panelling – this is dependent on the complexity of the pattern and you’ll need some extra time to prime and paint with drying time in between. 

What other costs are involved with MDF Wall Panelling Kits?

Panelling kit aside, you need to budget for essential items such as sandpaper and polyfiller to correct your walls, adhesive to fix your kit to the wall, primer, paint, paint rollers and a tray. You will need everyday DIY products such as a tape measure and a spirit level on hand. A pencil always comes in handy to mark out where you need to start your wall panelling (middle of the wall). If you’re a bit clumsy when it comes to painting, make sure you cover your floors with something suitable like a tarpaulin. Protect your skirting boards with tape – a low-tack masking tape, it needs to be low-tack to ensure it doesn’t strip the paint off of your skirting boards when you remove it. 

Fitting Guide For MDF Wall Panelling Kits

Step 1 – What style of wall panel kit should I use?

Picking your panelling style is one of the most important parts of embarking on a wall panelling project. There are an abundance of options to choose from so definitely do your research first, make sure the style suits your tastes and complements the size of the room. For example you might want to install Shaker style panelling in your bedroom, but if your room is quite small you won’t have the space to fully enjoy the pattern as the rectangular shapes are set quite far apart, you could try Jacobean wall panelling instead as the squares are fixed closer together and will make the most of the space you have. 

If you’re stuck on ideas for panelling inspiration – check out our Panelling Ideas & Inspo Blog – there are heaps of designs to get your creative juices flowing. 

Now you need to pick a room to panel. There are no restrictions when it comes to wall panelling, you can panel any room you please. But you will need to keep in mind the type of wall panelling kit you purchase depending on your room choice.

For kitchen and bathroom panelling you will need to use a wall panelling kit made out of MR MDF, MR stands for moisture resistant. Moisture resistant MDF is perfect for applications in rooms which are exposed to more humidity, like Bathrooms and Kitchens. It’s quite common in these rooms for the walls to be exposed to the odd splash of water. Now moisture resistant doesn’t mean waterproof but it’s a much better choice than regular MDF as this won’t withstand exposure to water. At all. MR MDF is slightly more expensive than regular MDF but it’s worth the extra cost if you want your wall panelling to last. For rooms such as bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms and hallways – standard MDF will be absolutely fine to use.  

A beautifully panelled bathroom courtesy of Ideal Home https://www.idealhome.co.uk/all-rooms-ideas/wall-panelling-ideas-229783/amp

Step 2 – Measure Your Walls

This step is vital to any successful wall panelling project. Once you’ve decided upon the style of panelling you’ll be using – you need to measure the surface area. Once you’ve worked out where you’ll be panelling, you can then work out how many wall panels you will need in your kit, you may have to purchase more than one wall panel kit as they often come in strips of 6.

You should measure the full width and height of the walls you plan on panelling, take into consideration the skirting board, coving, plug and light sockets and any fitted furniture you might have. Always, always double check your measurements to make sure the panels will fit. We found a really helpful wall panelling calculator if you’re finding it difficult to calculate the amount of panels you need – https://www.mydailyrenovation.co.uk/diy-wall-panelling/

Step 3 – Cut Your Wall Panels To Size

Technically when you buy a wall panelling kit in the UK the strips come pre-cut for you. However for styles such as Jacobean panelling, you will need to trim down the strips that are placed horizontally as you do not want your panelling to overlap. Some mdf wall panelling kits come completely cut to your spec, but your basic wall panel kits will often just come as strips which you will need to trim down to fit in the space you have chosen to panel. 

Trimming your MDF panels to size can be a scary thought, but there are several ways you can cut MDF Wall Panelling strips down to your desired measurements. It all depends on the tools you have to hand. 

You can use a table saw which can be used to make cuts lengthways – often referred to as ‘ripping’ this is a great option for strip panels which are perhaps too wide. 

 If you don’t need to use a table saw, you can use a Miter/ Mitre saw or a circular saw. 

Jacobean Wall Panelling – Where To Cut

What’s the difference between a Mitre saw and a Circular Saw?

The Miter saw offers a more precise cut, however Circular Saw’s are handheld so you can cut a variety of different ways. The Mitre Saws are typically the more expensive option whereas Circular Saws are usually cheaper. Circular saws are a better option if you just need to trim the strips down or cut them in half.

Mitre Saw Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

Now if the above options don’t sound like your cup of tea, and if you’re feeling confident  – you can use a utility knife/ stanley blade to trim the panels. You can use the blade to score the cuts and then snap the boards – this should prevent splintering but you will need to be incredibly accurate with your scoring. 

Once all of the MDF panel strips have been trimmed down, you will need to lightly sand all of the ends until smooth. This will allow the panels to meet seamlessly. 

Step 4 – Check those walls

When installing your MDF wall panelling kits, it’s super important that you inspect your walls prior to the application of the panels. You need to check for lumps, bumps, holes and cracks – if you find any of these blemishes and they don’t affect the overall structure of the wall i.e a gaping hole – you can fix them yourself. You will need to sand down any lumps or bumps with sandpaper and ensure the wall is nice and smooth – you can use an electric sander if you have a large area to cover or if like us you find sanding pretty monotonous.

Small holes can be filled and sanded until unnoticeable. Cracks are something we would recommend having a professional take a look at – however if they are merely superficial and don’t affect the structural integrity of the wall – sand it down. You need to sand the wall to ensure the panels are fitted to a smooth surface, otherwise it could throw off all of the lovely symmetry. 

Step 5 – Fixing Your Wall Panels To The Wall

The style of wall panelling you have chosen will decide how you place the panels on the wall. We always advise starting from the middle of the wall to ensure symmetry. 

How do I glue MDF panels to the wall?

You should use a strong heavy duty grab adhesive to fix the mdf panels to the wall. 

We’ve listed links to some highly recommended adhesives below. In order to glue the mdf panels to the wall, you will need to apply the glue in a zigzag motion to the MDF strip and then press the panel firmly against the wall – then leave it to dry. For extra hold you can use both glue and nails.

Gorilla Heavy Duty Grab Adhesive https://uk.gorillaglue.com/gorilla-heavy-duty-grab-adhesive/

No Nonsense Grab Adhesivehttps://www.screwfix.com/c/sealants-adhesives/grab-adhesives/cat850076?brand=no_nonsense

When applying the panels follow the instructions that have come with the wall panelling kit. They will tell you in which order and direction you need to place them in. 

Step 7 – Check For Gaps & Fill

Once your wall panels are dry and securely fixed to the walls, you will need to inspect them for gaps. Most walls aren’t even so you may find there are some gaps that need filling. This is easy enough, you can use decorators caulk to fill the gaps, disguise any blemishes and to create seamless joins. 

Step 8 – Prime & Paint Your MDF Wall Panels

The key to a great paint job with mdf wall panelling is to ensure that you prime your MDF panels beforehand. This will make your paint job really pop!

Before you start, check the panels are securely fixed and the caulk has completely dried. You must always prime your MDF wall panelling before painting – this is a non-negotiable. MDF is extremely porous, so if you paint it without a primer it will absorb the paint and large bubbles will gather on the surface. If you don’t prime the panels beforehand you’ll end up spending a fortune on paint or even worse have to start from scratch. You need to apply two to three coats of primer and let it dry before you start painting. 

What Primer Should I Use for MDF panelling? 

There are loads of primer options available for MDF. We’ve listed some below, always read the instructions and follow the directions to a tee.

Leyland Trade Specialist White MDF Primerhttps://www.diy.com/departments/leyland-trade-specialist-white-mdf-primer-2-5l/1335260_BQ.prd?storeId=1002&ds_rl=1272379&ds_rl=1272409&ds_rl=1272379&gclid=Cj0KCQjw3f6HBhDHARIsAD_i3D_1jZ8d6AOoqjyLjKX2M1q-LMjETejNHDAbqvaMP7TICHNhjcpVhRsaAlnAEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

Wickes Trade MDF Primer Whitehttps://www.wickes.co.uk/Wickes-Trade-MDF-Primer-White-1L/p/121751

Dulux Trade Quick Dry MDF Primer Undercoat https://www.duluxtradepaintexpert.co.uk/en/products/dulux-trade-quick-dry-mdf-primer-undercoat

Painting Your Wall Panelling Kit

This is our favourite part, bringing your wall panelling to life and completely transforming your room! There are no limitations on the shades you can use, it’s entirely down to personal taste. If you’re stuck for panelling paint inspo – take a look at some of these designs. 

Ultimately you want to pick a shade that will complement your living space and your design.  

What type of paint should I use on my MDF wall panelling kit?

As long as you prime it correctly, you can use any paint. From emulsion to satinwood the options are endless. 

The striking Tuscan Red Bedroom from Little Greene Paint Company – https://www.littlegreene.com/tuscan-red-bedroom

How do you paint mdf wall panelling kits?

We recommend using a fluffy roller to paint the wall and the panel strips, you can cut in using a brush. Make sure you paint it evenly to ensure there aren’t any patchy spots. 

Now leave it to dry and before you know it you’ll have a beautifully panelled room to admire and show all of your friends.