I first sketched out the plan for the room and calculated how much of the moulding we would need. I figured out all of the spacing for the boxes on the walls. We then, got to cutting the 45 degree angles in the moulding. Basically, it's like making picture frames. It took 8 cuts per piece of moulding. We used a miter box and hand saw to make the cuts. Again, an inexpensive option that just requires a little more labor. Most of the boxes were 23" x 18" but we made skinnier rectangle to go under the windows and on the short walls in the room.
After cutting the angles and checking all of the measurements, we made the squares. I used Liquid Nails on the cuts and pressed them together to form the frames. This takes a lot of patience, the Liquid Nails can be a pain to work with because you don't want to get it on your hands. You have to make sure all of the joints fit together just right and that you are keeping the frame square. The Liquid Nails that we got had a working time of 30 minutes, so that meant it took about 30 minutes to harden, but that we could also make adjustments for a while after putting them together. I laid them out on newspaper on the floor and outside on the deck. I tried to let them all dry for a couple hours before moving them. I did move one too early and it was super fragile and came apart at the corners so I had to reglue it again.
After allowing them time to dry, we got ambitious and decided to get them up on the wall Sunday night. I used pencil to mark the walls for where the panels should go. It was really helpful to have this done beforehand, because you didn't really have to worry if things were square or level when you put the panels on, because you had it all laid out beforehand.
We used Liquid Nails to secure the frames to the wall. Because the moulding that we selected is a polymer blend, it's actually really light and won't require nails to secure it to the wall. If you're using hardwoods, I would definitely recommend finishing nails to secure the wood. I ran a bead of liquid nails around the back of the panels, then we placed them on the wall, holding it in place for a couple of minutes. We added tape to keep the moulding in place, but it probably wasn't even necessary. This was mostly for my sanity. I was afraid that they would fall down or something terrible would happen in the middle of the night, but nope they're secure! Here are some pictures of where we're at now.
I still need to caulk all of the panels and paint everything again. I'll update with more pictures when we've got that done. It's pretty exciting that we were able to get this much done this weekend. What a change a little bit of DIY and hard work can make!