Learn how to make DIY dollhouse siding using balsa wood strips! This is an easy and cost-effective way to customize your dollhouse.
How to Make Beautiful DIY Dollhouse Siding Using Balsa Wood
Alright guys, this is the second in a series of posts I’m doing about Ramona’s new dollhouse! The first post covered the free PDF build plans for the DIY dollhouse, as well as a thorough step-by-step with tons of pictures. This post is all about cleaning up the front of the dollhouse with siding!
I decided to make the front of the dollhouse, which is actually really the back when you’re playing with it, pretty for a few reasons. First, I really didn’t want to cut any corners on this project. And leaving the back looking like this meant that it would always have to be up against a wall. I wanted it to be beautiful on both sides!
Second, Ramona has a dollhouse at my mom’s house, and she really likes the doors and windows. I’ve watched her run around it from front to back making the people “walk” through the doors or wave out the windows. So I just felt like I she’d really enjoy having a fully functional dollhouse.
So here’s what it looked like before I got started doing anything to clean it up. This is also before I attached the roof, so bear with me. The base material for the front is a super thin plywood I got from the craft store. Two 24″ by 48″ sheets was enough. I traced and cut these with my saw, cut out the windows and door with a jig saw, and attached everything using wood glue and nails.
So here’s what I used for my dollhouse siding:
- Thin balsa wood strips from the craft store; browse similar here
- Small hand saw; I didn’t have a miter box, but I would recommend one! Here’s a kit with both.
- Measuring tape and pencil
- Fine-grit sandpaper
- Wood glue
- Acrylic craft paint
And here’s how I made my DIY dollhouse siding!
Step 1: Prep the base
Since the base was actually made out of three pieces of custom-cut plywood, I painted the entire thing light gray. I figured that would be easier than painting several coats of acrylic craft paint once the siding was on! I did end up having to do a coat of paint post-siding application, but the base coat surely helped.
Step 2: Begin at the base
I decided that working in major sections would be the easiest way to ensure I could keep things even and spaced appropriately. I started by setting some boards down—some painted, some unpainted—to get an idea of spacing. I definitely wanted to make sure the rough jig saw cuts on the windows and doors were covered, and I wanted to make sure that the spacing was event between the pieces of siding that stretched the entire length of the house.
I also thought it was helpful to use painter’s tape to hold my anchor pieces in place while deciding on spacing. For example, to begin work on the bottom of the house’s siding, my two anchor pieces were the sides of the front door and the piece that runs across the entire dollhouse and sits on top of the vertical door pieces. I also needed to make sure this long piece covered the bottom of the two windows and the top of the door.
Once I decided on the placement of these pieces, it was go time! I measured, marked, and started gluing. It was definitely an exercise in patience, I’ll tell you that. And making sure I didn’t put too much glue on the back was a challenge. I wanted enough to ensure it would stay on, but not so much that it oozed out the sides when I pressed the piece in place.
Step 3: Work through the middle chunk of siding
Next I repeated the same process I did for the base, except this time I worked on the middle chunk of the dollhouse. I needed to space my pieces so that one covered the seam between the two pieces, one covered the top of the bottom two windows, and one covered the bottom of the top window. You still with me?!
Once I had decided on the placement of these three pieces, I began measuring, marking, and cutting the pieces to fill in between them. Oh, and I should also say, I measured, marked, and cut every single piece as I went. I wanted everything to be an exact fit—or as close to exact as I could get!
This definitely slowed me down, but I think it was the best way to ensure the finished result looked professional and as clean as possible. You can see some of the pieces waiting in the background of the picture below. I had already checked to see that all of these pieces fit.
Step 4: Begin filling in the top sections
Next I began filling in the top sections, both the very top area that required each piece to be cut at an angle and the section on either side of the top-floor window. This was exactly as tedious as you imagine! To get the right angle, I just cut one piece as a template and worked from that.
There was one more seam at the top of the house that i wanted to make sure to cover as well. So you can see that piece cut at the top of the pic below. Once I had that one set, I cut pieces to fill in the gaps.
Step 5: Oops! Redesigning the siding around the bottom dollhouse windows
So at this point I was getting REALLY excited about how everything was looking. However, I hit a really bit road block when I realized that my spacing was off in the three spaces between the two bottom-floor windows. Basically the slightly larger gap on the right side would look really wonky if I went with horizontal boards for that section.
So…I decided to do vertical! This was also really great because I was able to use a bunch of smaller scrap pieces to fill in. And it’s also just nice to have some variation in the directions. It certainly took longer to do all of those small vertical pieces, but it was worth it 🙂
Finished DIY dollhouse siding!
And here is the finished piece with all of the balsa wood siding glued on! I did end up doing an additional coat of paint over everything just to help it make more uniform. I slightly lightened the gray color too.
I’m planning to add some more embellishments to this, obviously. A house number, maybe some faux vines, and potentially some faux flower boxes on the windows. I need to take an inventory of all of my scrap pieces!
You’ll see I also used a few of the scrap pieces to finish framing out the balcony. I wanted to trim out the door to help polish the rough jig saw cuts (I am not the best at the jig saw), and these did the trick! I painted them black before gluing them on. Check out this before and after:
Next week I’ll be sharing all about how I am working on wallpapering the inside of the dollhouse…and then on to trim in the inside and adding accessories and decor.