Design Wall

Materials List for 6′ x 8′ Design Wall

My dream studio included a really large design wall.  If you have less space, adapt the materials list for your needs.

  • 2 sheets of 1″ foamboard insulation from lumber yard (4′ x 8′ sheets of dense foam, with or without aluminum sheathing)
  • cotton batting size of finished design wall plus 8″ all around, ironed flat
  • utility knife to cut the foamboard
  • T-square, carpenter measuring tape, pen to mark where you want to cut the foamboard to size
  • 3 yards of wide white flannel (120″?) available from Nancy’s Notions, ironed, left slightly dampened
  • spray adhesive to attach batting and fabric to foamboard
  • T-head pins (Walmart)
  • duct tape to tape two foamboard sheets together edge to edge, also to secure wrapped batting and flannel to back of foamboard
  • 6 to 10 small (1″) angle brackets to attach the design wall to the wall
  • 1-1/2″ flat head wood screws  and (as needed) wall anchors if you don’t hit a stud
  • Electric drill, bit to pre-drill holes for angle brackets

Supplies for Optional Frame

  • 4 – 8′ lengths of 1″ corner bead (these wood strips will be cut to length for a frame with mitered corners. Since they have a deep groove all along the inside corner, they provide a nice finished edge to the wrapped foamboard design wall.)
  • 4 – 2″ corner brackets and screws
  • miter saw to cut corner bead to proper lengths to make the frame
  • latex caulk for joining the corners of frame and filling in any gaps in mitered corners
  • electric drill with small bit to pre-drill screw holes so wood corner bead will not split
  • medium to fine sandpaper to smoothe mitered edges of corner and after primer
  • latex primer and paint in desired color

Covering the Foamboard with Batting and Flannel

Making your own design wall requires a lot of clear floor space, preferably as close to the final location as possible. A partner makes things much easier!  The floor should be very clean–use a sheet on dropcloth if you have any doubts.  You don’t want the flannel to get dirty.

  • Cut the foamboard so it fits the wallspace reserved for it. Be sure to reduce the size a little extra to have room to attach the wall brackets–an inch all around should do it!
  • Tape the edges of the two foamboards together on the front and back to achieve desired dimensions (here, 6′ x 8′).
  • Smoothe the batting across the foamboard, leaving at least 6 inches all around. Fold back halfway and use spray adhesive to attach the batting to the foamboard, starting along the center and smoothing it as you move out.
  • Smoothe slightly damp flannel onto foamboard and pin it snugly around the edges using the t-pins. Use lots pins and work back and forth across the foamboard so the flannel is centered on the foamboard and not distorted. Damp flannel will stretch slightly as you work with it, but should dry flat, smoothly covering the foamboard surface.
  • Turn everything over and trim the batting and flannel to wrap neatly about 4-5″; onto the back of the foamboard. Trim corners to reduce bulk as you fold the fabric around to the back.
  • Short pieces of duck tape  will hold things in place while you and a friend stretch long pieces of tape along the edges of the batting/flannel onto the back of the foamboard.

Cover the foamboard with batting and flannel.

Chuck joining a corner of the frame

Optional Frame

Corner bead with glued miter joint and corner bracket

You definitely need a partner and plenty of unobstructed floor space for this!  Making the frame is not a job for a beginner! If no one with the tools and skill is available, you can eliminate the frame and just mount the wrapped foamboard.

Luckily, I had a handy husband with the right stuff!  See the photo for a closeup of joining the mitered sections of corner bead trim to make a frame that fits neatly around the covered foamboard.

Mounting the Design Wall Unit to the Wall

The quickest way is to glue the whole unit to the wall, but this means if you ever need to remove the design wall, you will really make a mess of the wall and will definitely have some serious drywall repair to do.  So, DON’T DO IT!  Instead, use screws and brackets, predrilling holes in the frame to prevent the wood from splitting.

Wall, angle bracket and side of the mounted wood frame. Note that the 1″ corner bead trim used to make the frame does not quite reach  the wall.  This 1/4″ gap is hardly seen, especially when frame is painted white to match the flannel.

Trying to drill through the fabric covered foamboard to screw directly to the wall presents problems. The fabric wraps around the screwbit! So we changed tactics and purchased small brackets to hold the frame to the wall and allow easy removal later, if necessary. The brackets provide a ledge to rest the bottom of the design wall unit on as you attach it to the wall with a couple of brackets on each side of the frame.  The directions below work for framed or unframed design wall units.

  • Determine the design wall unit’s position on the wall and measure the distance from the floor to the bottom of the unit.  Mark a level line on the wall.
  • Predrill several holes along the line where you will have brackets to support the weight of the unit. We used 3 or 4 for our 8′ long design wall unit. If your pilot hole does not hit a stud, use a drywall anchor.
  • Screw the brackets onto the wall and rest the unit onto the brackets. Be sure someone holds it against the wall while you do the next step!
  • On one of the sides of the design wall unit, slide a bracket between the wall and the unit. Be sure one of the tabs resting snugly against the frame/side of the unit.  The tab should stick out from the wall far enough to give a good place to drill through the side of the frame, if you made one. (If not, you may need to get larger brackets.) Make a light mark on the wall to show where the edge of the bracket meet the wall. Mark where two brackets will go on each side of the unit as well as a few along the top of the unit.
  • Remove and set aside the whole design wall unit. Uses the 4 marks to position your brackets on the wall and mark where your pilot holes should go.  Drill the pilot holes in the wall as you did before, using drywall anchors if necessary.
  • Screw the 4 brackets to the wall. These should now be positioned so you can set the design wall unit into place with the bracket tabs gripping the  sides of the unit. Snug fit is better than loose!
  • Set the design wall unit back into place and have your partner steady it through the next steps.
  • Optional Frame:  The tabs should stick out far enough from the wall so that the hole in the tab comes beyond the back edge of the wooden frame. You will need enough of the frame so that a hole drilled through it will not split the wood.  If the bracket doesn’t come out far enough, get a slightly larger bracket.
  • Optional Frame: Using a very small bit, drill a pilot hole through the hole in the bracket tab and through the frame. do not penetrate the fabric or you will have twisted/torn flannel! Once you have the pilot hold drilled just through the wood, back it out and insert a 1″ brad that fits through the hole.  Don’t force it or you will split the wood. Tap it into the fabric covered foamboard, being sure it doen’t come out through the front of the design wall.
  • Unframed Foamboard: Tap a 1″ brad through the hole in the bracket tab and into the fabric covered foamboard, being sure it doesn’t come out through the front of the design wall.
  • The brads on the sides of the design wall, plus the support of the brackets on the bottom, are all that are needed to hold the unit in place.  The brackets at the top are not actually attached to the unit–they just provide a snug fit.  My unit came so close to the floor and ceiling, I had no room to drill the pilot holes for the brads and actually attach the design wall to the top and bottom brachets.


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