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Build a Multipurpose Design Wall

As I mentioned in my last post every quilter tries to tailor their workspace to suit their exact needs and incorporating some sort of design wall in your quilting studio is a really useful feature. I researched the quilting and photography industries and came up with my own idea to build a multipurpose design wall. You can read why I decided on this type of multipurpose design wall here on my blog

Below I've provided the step-by-step instructions as well as a list of materials, resources and estimated costs.

These instructions are to build an approximate 5' H x 7' W permanent design wall.


1 - 16 oz can of Weldwood Contact Cement $13

1 - small sample container of paint similar color to cork tiles $4

1 - mini paint roller brush & tray $6

2 - cartons of 11 tiles of Amcork Cork Wall Tiles (Style: Blizzard) $154

1 - Impact Varidrive Set with Silver Metal Chain from B&H Photo $64

1 - set of Impact background hooks (2 pack) from B&H Photo $13

1 - 2" x 10' PVC pipe $7

1 - package Velcro Ultra-Mate Industrial Tape, 10' x 1", 10lbs, Black $17

1 - piece of batting, 60" W x 90" L, approximately $11

Pair of Gloves, Face Mask, Tape Measure, Pencil, Rosin paper, Painters tape, Drywall screw gun

Estimate Total Cost of Project: $294.00

Step-by-Step Instructions:

To start you will need a large, blank, flat wall suitable to build your permanent design wall on.

Step 1 - Protect Your Floor Surface

You will need to put some sort of protective covering on your floor large enough to work on and to keep your contact cement from dripping onto your floor. I used rosin paper for painting and then taped it securely to my floors using painters tape.

Step 2 - Paint the Edges of Your Tiles

I recommend painting the outside edges of each of your cork tiles with a paint color that is similar to the tile itself. I did this because the tiles have unpainted edges (they come with the standard brownish cork color on the edges). I decided to paint the tile edges to minimize the dark shadows in between the tiles and along the outside edge of my entire tile wall.

Step 3 - Prepare the Wall to Install Cork Wall Tiles

Using a pencil and tape measure, center and mark the height and width of your overall cork wall. You will want to leave at least 6" of space from the top of your ceiling to the top of your cork wall. This 6" of space is necessary to install your retractable design wall feature. My cork wall measured 58 1/2" H by 93 3/4" W but you can adjust your design wall to be smaller or larger based on your prefaces and the number of tiles that you choose to use. Using a pencil, I drew the rectangular outline of my wall slightly smaller (less 1/4") than the overall 58 1/2" x 93 3/4" dimensions. I did this because when you paint with the contact cement you'll want the cement to be slightly inside the border of your entire tile wall so that you do not see the dried contact cement extend beyond your cork wall. Contact cement dries with a yellow tint so you don't want to see yellow residue beyond the edges of your beautiful cork tile wall. I also drew level, horizontal lines for each row of tiles to use as a guide when sticking the tiles to the wall.

Step 4 - Paint the Wall & Tiles with the Contact Cement

First, make sure your room is ventilated. Open some windows and put on a face mask and gloves. Follow the contact cement instructions for preparation and drying times. Pour the contact cement into a small paint tray and using your small paint roller, paint the contact cement a 1/4" inside the pencil outline of your design wall and let dry. Then using the contact cement again, paint the backside of 20 cork tiles and let them dry (you will have 2 extra tiles left over). Working one tile at a time, on the center horizontal line, start adhering each of the tiles. Tip: When you work with contact cement the adhesion is quick and it has a fast, strong bond, therefore you'll want to first carefully line up or butt your tiles edges up to the next tile before you actually stick them in place. After you have one row adhered, repeat the same steps for the remaining 4 rows. Once you are done adhering your tiles stand back and admire your beautiful finished cork tile wall!

Step 5 - Preparing your PVC Pipe & Batting for Retractable Design Wall Feature

Cut your 2" x 10' PVC pipe to 90 inches. Then cut, peel and adhere the hook side of the Velcro tape down the entire length of your PVC pipe, be carefully to line it up straight. Then take the loop side of the Velcro tape, cut, peel and adhere it to the 90" top edge of your batting. Tip: If my batting gets old, dingy or if I want to use a longer length of batting because I've used Velcro tape, I can easily swap out my batting when I need to.

Step 6 - Install Impact Background Hooks to Wall

Mount and install your right and left background hooks sitting on the top edge of your cork wall, 1 1/2” in from the outside edge of your cork wall. I used a drywall screw gun and because I did not hit the wooden studs on either side, I had to install drywall anchors first. Once the anchors where installed, I used drywall screws and mounted each hook in place.

Step 7 - Setting up your Varidrive System

I chose the Varidrive system because I could knew I could modify it for my intended use. The system is primarily used in the photography industry to raise and lower paper or vinyl backdrops. The expandable cores fit into both sides of the PVC pipe and then mounts onto your background hooks so that I can easily raise and lower your batting backdrop using the metal chain. I specifically chose this set because it has a load capacity of 42 lbs. However, it does cost double the amount of the 22 lbs plastic chain set but I felt it was worth the extra money for the strength to support the weight of the batting roll and any quilts that I would hang on the retractable PVC roll assembly. To set up the Varidrive system set please follow the quick and easy instructions that come in the box.

I really enjoy both the functionality and beauty of my new multipurpose design wall and perhaps this type of quilting design wall will make sense for you. Tip: To keep the batting from warping on my lower edge, I have recently purchased a long plastic strip to slip my batting edge into. It looks similar to the plastic edge used on window shades.


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1 comentario

Robin Shaw-Gabriel
Robin Shaw-Gabriel
01 feb 2019

Thank you, so much for the post! Can't wait for my new sewing room to be finished so I can install a design wall! I'm sure it will get get tons of use!

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