Wainscot is the paneling on the lower part of a wall—although in some cases it can reach as tall as three-quarters of the way up the wall. It can be installed all over the house—from bathrooms to stairways—and comes in a variety of prices depending on the materials you choose. Plywood sheeting and prefabricated kits allow you to create relatively inexpensive wainscoting, while luxurious raised panels made of hardwoods will set you back a pretty penny.
Originally, wainscoting was used to protect walls from chair damage. Now, however, it can be used just about anywhere in the home where you want to add architectural style. Atlanta Kitchen & Bath Makeovers shows some pretty wainscoting options.
The biggest challenge when it comes to wainscoting selection is to pick something that fits with the style of your room.
In a traditional room, try raised-panel wainscoting. For country-style homes, tongue and groove beaded board is a popular choice. And in Arts and Crafts or Mission-style homes, there’s a good chance you’ll find recessed flat panels. Want to know what these and other types of wainscoting look like? Check out this handy photo gallery, which includes a breakdown of all the parts of each wainscot style, courtesy of This Old House.
Your wainscoting might be topped with a chair rail, which was traditionally used to protect walls from chairs that hit the wall when people got up from the table, or a plate rail, which is found higher up the wall and is used to display plates or other decorative items.
Want to install wainscoting yourself? Go for it! You can purchase precut wainscoting materials in a kit—which is perfect if you’re not an expert carpenter. All you have to do is trim the pieces to the right size with a saw and nail them into place. This type of wainscoting typically comes in interlocking strips or panels to make the job even easier. Learn more from this New York Times article.
If you know you want to install beaded board wainscoting, you’ll find the specifics of painting and installing it in this article from This Old House.
As if that weren’t enough links for wainscoting installation, here’s another. But this one (thanks again, This Old House) has great photos to accommodate the instructions. And it shows what to do to work around outlets and door casings, which can be tricky without a bit of guidance.
One can’t-miss installation tip courtesy of Lowe’s: Allow wainscot panels to sit in the room where they will be installed for 48 hours so they can adjust to their new environment—this helps minimize expansion and contraction once they’re on the walls.
Oh, and if you want the look of wainscoting without the installation, why not create the effect with wallpaper or paint? Use one color or pattern below the chair rail and another above and voila! Instant wainscoting.
About to start a DIY wainscoting installation? Check out this Builders Share post on the topic to read about some of the challenges one builder faced.
The Home Know-It-All