How to install tongue & groove wall paneling on cement

Written by jagg xaxx
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How to install tongue & groove wall paneling on cement
Tongue and groove panelling makes a room warmer and more inviting. (lambri et bois image by Emmanuelle Combaud from

Tongue and groove wall panelling is common on cement walls as part of a basement renovation. The most difficult part of this job is securing furring strips to the cement, which requires a hammer drill and special concrete screws. Not only is wood more aesthetically pleasing, the renovation gives you the opportunity to make the basement warmer and more efficient by installing rigid foam insulation behind the wood panelling.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Panelling
  • 1-by-2-inch furring strips
  • Moulding
  • Baseboards
  • Stain or paint
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Hammer drill
  • 2-inch concrete screws
  • 1 ½-inch finish nails

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  1. 1

    Stack the tongue and groove panelling that you are going to use in the room where you will be installing it. Place thin pieces of wood between each panel so the panels will acclimate to the location and won't shrink or swell after you have installed them. Leave them like this for a week.

  2. 2

    Paint or stain the tongues of each piece the colour that the wall will be when it is finished. If the panels shrink a bit after installation, the tongues will be less visible.

  3. 3

    Strip the walls of all dirt, old nails and screws and anything else that will interfere with the panelling. Clear the area around the walls that are to be panelled.

  4. 4

    Drill holes every 18 inches in the furring strips. These holes should be large enough that the concrete screws slide through them without needing to be screwed in.

  5. 5

    Install the furring strips on the wall horizontally by holding them against the wall and drilling through the hole into the wall with the hammer drill. Then put a concrete screw through the wood and into the hole in the concrete and screw it in.

  6. 6

    Install 1-inch rigid foam insulation between the concrete wall and the tongue and groove panelling if it's an exterior wall. Leave 24 inches between each furring strip and place the rigid foam between the furring strips before installing the panelling over it.

  1. 1

    Measure the distance from floor to ceiling in several different places. If the measurements are the same, or close enough that the baseboards and ceiling moulding will cover the difference, cut all of your panels to the same length.

  2. 2

    Place a piece of panelling tightly into one corner, with the groove side facing the corner, and nail it into each of the furring strips. Secure the other side of the panel by nailing through the tongue so that the nails will be covered by the groove of the next piece of panelling.

  3. 3

    Place the groove of the next piece of panelling over the tongue of the first and press it firmly into place. You only need to nail the other side, through the tongue, as the groove side will be held in place by its locking in with the tongue of the previous piece.

  4. 4

    When all of the panels are installed, cover the top and bottom joints with ceiling moulding and baseboards.

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