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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

  • Claire Douglas

Tongue and groove paneling - a DIY tutorial

Updated: Jun 9

How to install tongue and groove wall panels 

Tongue and groove panels

If you love tongue and groove panelling you're going to love the beadboard version as it's an easy installation for wood wall paneling. Let me know in the comments if you also want a tutorial on how to DIY the single planks.  

If you follow me on Instagram or Tiktok then you’ll already know that I’m a huge fan of wall panelling and have tried lots of different styles over the past few years. I recently added some tongue and groove panelling to our living room and thought I'd share how I did it just in case it is useful to anyone. I chose the beadboard variety rather than the individual vertical strips that you can buy, read the separate post about what wood to choose for wall panelling for more details about sourcing the wood.

Why should you choose tongue and groove panelling?

Tongue and groove wall panelling is brilliant for the following;

- covering over imperfect walls

- adding some texture to a room

- breaking up a plain wall

It's cheap and so easy to fit that anyone can do it.

You will need

Spirit level

Damp cloth

MDF primer - this one is great



Tonge and groove panels like these from Wickes that I used


Measure and prepare

- Measure the width of each wall to be panelled

- Decide the required height for the panels

- Cut panels down (if required) to the desired height

- Cut the final end panel for each wall to the correct width (I chose to position the panels I'd cut vertically so that they are in the least prominent position).

tongue and groove paneling preparation stages

Paint and attach the panels

  • If using mdf tongue and groove panels, you will need to prime the panels prior to painting. I used a multi-surface paint initially, which included a primer this time round, but usually I'd do it as a separate step. 

  • Once the panels have dried, attach them to the wall using grab adhesive. The vertical edges of tongue and groove paneling allow for a seamless finish, making it an excellent option for those aiming to enhance their interior design with minimal effort.

  • Before the adhesive sets, check the panels are level and straight, using a spirit level.

  • If the wall isn't completely flat it can, in places, reduce the adhesion of the panels. In this scenario, the panels might need to be held in place while the glue sets. (I propped a heavy coffee table up against the tongue and groove panels for this purpose).

tongue and groove paneling

Fill the gaps

  • The seams between the panels should be filled using wood filler.

  • Once applied to the gap, use a damp cloth to wipe off any excess filler.

  • If there are any gaps at the top of the panels (where the wall surface undulates) these gaps can be filled with decorator's caulk.

Tongue and groove paneling

Attach the trim

  • Tongue and groove / Beadboard panelling looks best when finished off with a wood moulding or trim of some kind at the top. 

  • There are lots of this kind of moulding available at hardware stores and it's really down to personal choice.

  • I elected to fix the moulding with the widest point at the bottom, but I know some people prefer it up the other way - again, go with what you love as you'll be looking at it every day. 

  • Attach the moulding with grab adhesive.

  • Once the adhesive has set, fill any gaps between the moulding and the wall with filler or decorator's caulk. 

  • Once the caulk has dried, prime and paint the moulding.

tongue and groove paneling trim

You'll notice from the pictures above that I changed the colour of the panels before I attached the moulding. This was not planned, but I realised once they were attached to the wall, that I just didn't love the feel of the colour I'd used initially when it was in that quantity in the room. I changed to Strong White by Farrow & Ball and instantly felt calmer and happier.

Finishing touches

Tongue and groove paneling complete

As this is a really quick and simple DIY you can use all the spare time you have left to style up your newly decorated room!

Tongue and groove paneling, also known as groove panels or groove wall panels, offers a timeless appeal and is an excellent choice for adding character to any interior space. Whether you're looking to create accent walls or revamp your entire room, this type of paneling provides a more country farmhouse or coastal look compared to traditional wood wall panels like wainscotting or picture frame moulding.

Is tongue and groove panelling expensive?

Although more expensive that the thin mdf strips required for board and batten / wainscotting, tongue and groove panels can be picked up reasonably at DIY stores. You can save money if you have the right tools (namely a router bit), by cutting the ridged design out of plain mdf sheets yourself. This would allow you to choose the exact width of each of the 'planks' so you could opt for wide planks as seen in shiplap panelling, or you could choose a narrower look. 

What is a tongue and groove panel?

Tongue and groove panels are sheets of mdf that have a grooved vertical design cut into them. They are applied to the wall to create a seamless wood panelling effect to add character and style to an interior space. 


Do you need to fill grooves in paneling before painting?

You do not fill all the grooves, but you will need to fill the joins where panels meet, to ensure a seamless look around the room. 

Can I use tongue and groove in a bathroom?

You can use tongue and groove in a bathroom as long as you opt for a moisture-resistant mdf panel and prime and paint to seal the surface. Ensure all joins are filled before priming so no water or air moisture can penetrate the mdf. 

If beadboard/tongue and groove isn't for you, check out some of my other half-wall panelling ideas and don't forget to look into fluted MDF which offers a modern way to embrace textured walls. 

Where next?

Here are some other panelling-related posts you might enjoy…

Click the underlined words to go straight to the relevant page!

Thanks so much for reading. I'd love to keep you up to date with future DIY, decorating, interior styling and upcycling projects, if you would like to receive my (not more than weekly & no spamming I promise) emails then please subscribe by scrolling down to the box at the bottom of the page.   


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