Installing the MDF Raised Panels

Posted by John on July 2nd, 2012

Major dining room progress this week!  It’s actually starting to look sorta close to done!  This past weekend I was able to start and mostly finish installing the MDF raised panels onto the walls.  I only have the two sections remaining under the window to wrap up and then I’ll be ready to finish up the trim and start painting.  The goal is to be done everything (paneling wise) sometime next week.  Keep your fingers crossed.

So, last time we talked about this project we had cut out and were routing the raised panel sections on the router table.  Btw, if you’re interested in seeing how the router table was built, check our guest post at One Project Close here.  Once all the panel were routed, I brought them all in and staged them in the room.IMG_4041-1024x682



Installing them took some patience.  I went easy on myself at first and installed the panels without any electrical outlets in them.  I just sat the panel on some shims and tried to center it in the square.  All of these panels have an outline in them that I can line the panel up to.  The panels are a touch smaller than I would have liked so they don’t line up exactly with these outlines, but they are close.  My primary goal with these MDF sections is to make absolutely sure the top of the panel is level and square to the top of the frame.  I’ll get more into that once I start trimming out the panels, but for now, just concentrating on that made it a little easier.  If the the sides aren’t perfect, you’ll never notice.  Once the panel is lined up, it’s glued using Liquid Nail adhesive and then nailed into place using a finish nailer.IMG_4059-1024x575




I’d love to hit a stud with my nails, but to be honest, once the glue dries it’s not coming off.  Really, the nails just keep it in place until the glue sets up anyway.  The longer nails of the finish nailer are crucial here.  I wouldn’t be able to use a brad nailer, since MY brad nailer only allows 1 1/4″ as the longest nails.  I need to go through 3/4″ thick MDF and then 1/2″ of drywall… that adds up to 1 1/4″, but in practice it needs to be longer.  The finish nails are around 2″-2 1/2.”IMG_4065-1024x575


Here’s one of the installed panels sans outlet…IMG_4043-e1341281785729-682x1024


After going around the room with the outlet-less panels. It was time to go back and finish up the more challenging panel sections.  Each panel that falls on a section of wall with an outlet needs to be marked and cut to remove a small box for the outlet.  To help make this process really easy, I used a long, straight scrap board I had lying around, but you could also use a long level if you have one.


I begin by lining up the board with the edges of the outlet opening.  Then I mark the frame above, below and to the sides of the outlet box.  Make sure you mark both sides of the outlet and both the bottom and the top.  This extra step will allow you to transfer those marks more accurately.IMG_4067-e1341282950162-682x1024


With the frame around the opening marked, I temporarily install the MDF panel.  I’ll use a couple shorter brad nails to do this part since it only needs to hold it for a couple minutes.  With the panel up, I’ll mark it by using the same long board to transfer my marks from the frame to the panel.  This is where marks on both sides of the frame pay dividends.  I can line up the board with both sides and I know I’m dead nuts on target.IMG_4069-1024x682


With the outlet box marked, I’ll take the panel down and cut out the hole using a drill to start the corners and then cutting the straight sections with a handheld jigsaw.  Then the panel is just reinstalled like all the rest.

Even though I could put in the receptacle at this point, it won’t go in until the very end of the project.  Gotta say this room is really coming together nicely.  Still have little ways to go, but we’re getting there!

What are your plans for the 4th?  Do you spend time with family and friends or are you hanging out at home?

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  • Kristen

    Look at you go – the raised panels came out awesome and it's really coming along great! This is very impressive. I can't wait to see it finished!!

    • John_OHFScratch

      Thanks Kristen!! Dying to finish it over here!

  • The raised panels look awesome!! I can almost see it finished now!

    • John_OHFScratch

      Thanks Ainhoa!

  • Beautiful. And loved the router table tutorial.

    • John_OHFScratch

      Thanks Emily!

  • WOW!!!! John, I have to say, this is all really impressive. I bet you cannot wait to just be done already. It will be so beautiful!

    • John_OHFScratch

      Maureen!! Nice to hear from you again. We cannot wait to be done!

  • I know this is a ton of work, but it will be AMAZING when it all comes together! Seriously. Beautiful.

    • John_OHFScratch

      Sure hope so!

  • Looking good! It will totally be worth all of the hard work.

    No big 4th of July plans here. Fireworks tonight. Work tomorrow morning.

  • casadechristine

    Wow! It looks fabulous so far!! It's going to look great when it's done and it will be so nice to look at and enjoy and know that your hard work paid off!

    • John_OHFScratch

      Thanks Christine!

  • Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous!!!! Are you going to paint it all white or something else?!

    • John_OHFScratch

      Thanks! We\’re going to keep it white. We\’re going to stick with the same paint color as the rest of our baseboards.

  • Mrs. Spankypants

    OmGGGGG, could you please come over to our house?? This is just what we need to do/have done. We’re in the middle of trying to get the wallpaper down first. We have the same dining room layout as you, only with a step-down into the living room. I have my sideboard off to the side, though, where the outlet is. I like it there.

  • D. Brown

    Can you provide me with the router bit make and model you used for the raised panel?