Accent Walls Dining Room MDF Wall Paneling

How To Install MDF Paneling To Get A Beautiful Wainscoting Look Part 1: Measure, Getting Supplies and Painting

We are working on our dining room makeover and installed a Wood Slat Wall in the first phase of the project. See How to Create A Wood Slat Wall Part 3: Attaching The Wood Slats. Now we are going to finish off the dining room with MDF paneling that will look like wainscoting.

Supplies I used:

  • 16 MDF Boards
  • Nail Gun
  • Nails
  • Behr Marquee Shadow Mountain paint
  • Paint Brushes
  • Levels
  • T-Square
  • Table Saw
  • Liquid Nails
  • Caulking gun
  • Wood filler putty


The first thing I had to do was measure in order to figure out how many rectangle panels would evenly fit on each wall. I started with the longest wall. My wall length was 157.5” so I determined that I could fit 6 vertical pieces evenly spaced with 27.25” in between each panel.

I determined that I wanted the paneling to go up to 4 ft from the molding on the floor. 

I decided I wanted to do one horizontal MDF panel 4 ft up from the molding.  The next horizontal section 8” below that.  Then I wanted to do one horizontal section on the bottom of the wall right above the molding.  

Based on these decisions I measured how many vertical and horizontal pieces I would need on all the other walls.

Once I figured out how many horizontal and vertical pieces I needed I added all the lengths of  all the horizontal and vertical pieces together in inches.  Then I converted them to feet. It ended up being 121’ total.  I knew the MDF boards came in 8’ lengths.  So in order to figure how many piece to buy I divided 121’ by 8’ and it was a little more than 15 so I knew  I would need 16 boards.

Paint MDF Boards

Once I got all the MDF boards I painted all the boards first. We found that it was a lot easier to paint the boards first before you put them on the wall. Once you get the boards on the wall its harder to get in all the tight corners of the MDF paneling so its easier to do it when its not on the wall.

Paint Wall

It is also easier to paint the wall first.  You don’t have to be precise on the edges since you are going to cover the edges with the MDF paneling.  

It’s better to do all the painting beforehand that way you can go back and do touchups when its dry instead of doing it all at one time.  When its dry you have a better idea if you need another coat or not.  Although the Behr Marquee paint is really good and I have never had to use more than one coat.

See the next steps in How To Install MDF Paneling To Get A Beautiful Wainscoting Look: Part 2 Cutting and Attaching The Boards

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