You don't have to remodel your entire kitchen to give it a fresh new look. Installing a new backsplash (the wall space between your countertop and cabinets) can make a dramatic improvement in the appearance of your kitchen. A backsplash must stand up well to dirt, grease and general abuse, but it should also look stylish. Wainscot planks can achieve both of these goals and installing them is a project that even a beginner can tackle.
Available in ¼- x 7- x 32-in. panels, tongue-and-groove wainscot planks (commonly available at most home centers) are easy to install and require no special tools. They’re made of medium-density fiberboard (MDF), can be glued in place using construction adhesive, and can be painted or stained to suit your decor.
Provided your kitchen walls are in good shape, you can wash them with trisodium phosphate and then apply the planks directly to the walls. We even left the old wallpaper in place, as it was so firmly adhered to the wall that removal would have damaged the drywall surface. However, if the walls have damage such as cracks, peeling paint or loose wallpaper, you’ll need to repair the problems first.
Before you begin the project, condition the panels by removing them from their packaging and placing them in the room to be paneled at least 72 hours prior to installation. Stack the panels on the floor or lean them against a wall with spacers between sheets so air can circulate around each panel.
Although traditional bead board wainscoting features base trim and a cap rail, you can forgo these trim pieces because you’ll abut the planks between the countertop and the cabinets. Though the panels come primed, don’t forget to paint them with a durable finish that’s made for kitchen environments.
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