How Can I Cover Up an Ugly Cement Block Wall?

Cement block walls are all about function and not at all about aesthetics. Whether your cement block wall is in the basement 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 drywall and paneling. The project takes a little preparation and day or two for a single wall, depending on what you plan to cover it with.

Cement block walls beg to be covered with a better looking material.
  1. Measure and cut two one-by-three inch furring strips to run along the top and bottom of the wall. Nail the furring strips to the cement blocks with two-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 center of the furring strip every 24 inches.

  2. Measure and cut additional furring strips to place vertically between the top and bottom strips. Place one furring strip every 16 inches, measured from the center of one to the center 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 24 inches in the center of the furring strips.

  3. Measure one-half inch drywall and cut it with a utility knife to install vertically on the wall. Each piece of drywall should begin and end on a furring strip. Measure the drywall and mark it for cutting. Cut through the paper with a utility knife and snap the drywall back away from the cut. Cut through the paper on the other side of the drywall to finish the cut.

  4. Place the drywall against the wall in the place it is to be installed. Screw it to the furring strips with one-and-a-quarter inch drywall screws placed every 12 inches along the outside edges and every 16 inches in the middle. A full width of drywall will have two center 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.

  5. Measure and cut paneling to fit over the drywall panels. Remember to include space for the trim pieces and one-eighth 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.

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


  • The one-eighth inch space for expansion of paneling is absolutely necessary to prevent the panels from buckling and bulging with temperature variations.
  • The power nailer is dangerous. It uses .22 or .25 caliber blank shell 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.

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.