How can I cover up an ugly cement block wall?

Updated February 21, 2017

Cement block walls are all about function and not at all about aesthetics. Whether your cement block wall is in the garage or on a main floor of your home, it can probably be described with a single word: ugly. You can cover cement block walls with a number of products that include a combination of plasterboard and panelling. The project takes a little preparation and a day or two for a single wall, depending on what you plan to cover it with.

Measure and cut two furring strips to run along the top and bottom of the wall. Nail the furring strips to the cement blocks with 5 cm (2 inch) power nails. Wear safety glasses and ear protection. Place a power load into a power nail gun and add a power nail. Place the muzzle of the gun against the furring strip and pull the trigger. Place one power nail in the centre of the furring strip every 60 cm (24 inches).

Measure and cut additional furring strips to place vertically between the top and bottom strips. Place one furring strip every 40 cm (16 inches), measured from the centre of one to the centre of the next. Use a level to keep the furring strips plumb. Nail the furring strips to the cement block wall with the power nailer and nails, one nail every 60 cm (24 inches) in the centre of the furring strips.

Measure the plasterboard and cut it with a utility knife to install vertically on the wall. Each piece should begin and end on a furring strip. Measure the plasterboard and mark it for cutting. Cut through the paper with a utility knife and snap the board back away from the cut. Cut through the paper on the other side to finish the cut.

Place the plasterboard against the wall in the place it is to be installed. Screw it to the furring strips with the screws placed every 30 cm (12 inches) along the outside edges and every 40 cm (16 inches) in the middle. A full width of plasterboard will have two centre columns of screws. Drive the screws just deep enough so the screw head is just below the surface, but does not break through the paper.

Measure and cut panelling to fit over the plasterboard panels. Remember to include space for the trim pieces and 3.25 mm (1/8 inch) on each side and at the top and bottom for expansion and contraction. Cut trim pieces to fit on the outside and between panels.

Cover the back of the panelling with glue according to the manufacturer's directions. Place a trim piece on each side and set the panelling against the wall. Firmly press the panelling against the wall beginning in the centre of the panel and working out to the sides and top. Add additional pieces of panelling and trim until the wall is covered.


If you're planning on installing wiring such as switches or sockets, be sure to do that before you install the plasterboard and to make cutouts in both the panelling and board for the wiring boxes.


The 3.25 mm (1/8 inch) space for expansion of panelling is absolutely necessary to prevent the panels from buckling and bulging with temperature variations. The power nailer is dangerous. It uses blank shells to fire a special nail at high speed into the concrete. Always wear ear and eye protection and treat the tool as if it were a loaded gun, which it is.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape Measure
  • Furring strips
  • Saw
  • Power nails and loads
  • Power nailer
  • Safety glasses
  • Ear protection
  • Level
  • 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) thick plasterboard
  • Utility knife
  • 3 cm (1 1/4 inch) plaster screws
  • Battery drill/driver
  • Panelling
  • Panelling glue
  • Panelling trim strips
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About the Author

Michael Logan is a writer, editor and web page designer. His professional background includes electrical, computer and test engineering, real estate investment, network engineering and management, programming and remodeling company owner. Logan has been writing professionally since he was first published in "Test & Measurement World" in 1989.