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Design The Space

How to Install Classic Tongue and Groove Planking Kits

Solid Hardwood Tongue and Groove Classic Planking Installation Guide

Each solid hardwood tongue and groove Classic Wainscot Planking kit contains enough individual 3 ¼ inch wide hardwood planks and enough base and foot and top rail molding for a 7 foot – 6 inch linear length.    (e.g., If your project has 42 linear feet with 2 outside corners and 1 inside corner, you need to order (42 divided by  7.5” = 5.6 kits rounding up to 6):  Order 6 Kits & 2 outside and 1 inside corner trims.

Please read the following guidelines carefully before starting.

1.   Condition wood to room atmosphere - Acclimate the product

To minimize adverse effects of expansion and contraction of the product as it acclimates to your interior environment, be certain to open the packages and spread all the boards out with space between them for air to circulate. Allow them to adjust to the room in which they will be applied for at least 72 hours, longer if possible - not in a remote, damp or unheated area.

 2.   Finishing

Note that each plank is beaded on one side and smooth on the other with beveled edges. Light sanding with fine sandpaper and dusting with a tack cloth is required before finishing! Select the beaded or planking side as the “front,” and finish or seal the front, both ends and all side edges of each piece. Allow them to dry completely before going further.

3.   Examine wood

As with any natural product, there will be some differences in color and grain patterns. With this in mind, arrange the planks in a desired sequence, noting that a random mix of boards with differing colors and grain patterns is recommended.

4.   Wall preparation

If walls are cracked, uneven or extremely rough, restore the walls to a smooth surface.

5.   Vapor Barrier

In rooms with extremely high moisture (below grade installations, bathrooms, saunas or laundry areas), apply a vapor barrier, ex. 4 mil polyethylene,  placed between the studs and wainscot/planking.

6.  Glue and nailing process

If walls are in good condition, glue and nail wainscot directly on existing drywall, paneling or plywood.

INSTALLATION TIPS … review prior to starting

  • Nailing:  Pre-drill holes for all nails to prevent the wood from splitting. Drive nails at an angle for greater holding strength and finish with a nail set. Alternative nailing methods to securing planking through the lip on the tongue of the plank (blind nailing) are:

  1. Countersink Nailing: Use approximately 1-1/4” finishing nails and nail through the face of the planking, and then sink them with a nail set.

  2. Matching Colored Nails: Use approximately 1-1/4” colored finishing nails that match the color of the finished wood. Nail them flush to the surface.

  3. Power Nail Gun:  For faster and easier installation, a brad nail gun can be used.

              Gluing:    Use a quality panel glue to secure planking to wall.

              Tap planks into place using a wood block to protect edges and surfaces.

              Frequently check for plumb.


Step 1:  Wainscot Base Rail

  • Nail the Base Rail to wall with grooved side up using finishing nails.
  • Nail on 16” centers to studs whenever possible for a secure hold.

Step 2: Wainscot Planking

  • Start with a grooved edge facing towards a corner.
  • Place plank in Base Rail groove and leave about 1/8” space between your first piece and the corner, allowing for expansion.
  • Make sure the first piece is plumb. Secure the planking by face nailing close to the grooved edge with 1-1/4” finishing nails. In addition, nail first piece at an angle on the lap of the plank so nails will not show. Paneling adhesive can also be used.
  • Add new pieces of wainscot by pushing the grooved edge onto the tongue of piece already installed. Continue to nail additional pieces through the lip. Leave approximately 1/32” between pieces to allow for expansion and contraction.
  • As you are working, frequently check for plumb using a level or tape measure.
  • When you come to a corner, rip the final plank to the required width, allowing 1/8” from the last plank to the corner for expansion and contraction.

Step 3: Wainscot Chair Rail

  • Install Wainscot Chair Rail after securing the Wainscot planking.
  • Install Chair Rail with groove facing down.
  • Nail on 16” centers to studs whenever possible for a secure hold.

Step 4: Inside and Outside corners

  • Install Inside and/or Outside corner trim to finish all corners using finish nails. Be sure to pre-drill first.

Step 5: Shoe Molding

  • Finish the installation by installing the shoe molding (if desired) along the bottom of the base rail using finish nails. Be sure to pre-drill first. Let this piece of trim “follow” the floor and overlap the Base Rail. If room is to be carpeted, install carpeting before shoe molding.