Wainscoting Ideas

Making an interior to be more decorative is not always about how sophisticated the furniture.

We can deal with wainscoting ideas to have decorative walled as well as to beautify the room.

With a little touch, it gives significant difference towards the volume.

At the very first time, wainscoting is used to keep out damage such as dampness and cold, but in today’s design, it changes into decorative purposes for houses, hotels, and apartments.

However, there are some things to prepare to create excellent wainscoting.

Wainscoting Definition

Wainscoting Definition

Many tries to define wainscoting from its term, but the results are various.

In spite of its etymological confusion, the term ‘wainscot’ in Dutch refers to the inner wooden covering the wall.

It is a part of interior paneling for the lower part of the wall, appeared in early English Renaissance residences, about 16th century in Britain, by using wooden material.

It took oak wood since it is sturdy and high maintenance. In the U.S., wainscoting is commonly known as wall paneling.

Furthermore, in its development, wainscoting not merely utilizes oak but also any other wooden materials or the artificial one, for example plastic.

By seeing a gorgeous look of wainscoting wall, we never guess that the installation is actually quite easy.

Perhaps, what we ought to do to have such beauty is by searching and then selecting our favorite wainscoting type.

Many designs are available in the market, so just adjust it with our existing interior or our plan.

The next is starting from the corner and then put a panel against the wall. Better you use finishing nails to keep the panel at the right place.

After that, we carefully work on it by applying the panels on the wall and nail them well.

Due to the length, sometimes we need to neat the panels to match the corner sides by cutting them.

Don’t forget to nail them so that the panels get strengthened and neatened.

To sum up, wainscoting is a part of home interior that decorate as well as protect the bottom part of the wall by using wooden materials.

In the following parts, we will see how to apply wainscoting ideas including the components to built it.

Considering the Height of Wainscoting

Wainscoting Height

It should be realized that wainscoting may give volume illusion towards the room.

Usually the wall makes the wall seems narrower than the actual size because of the divider between top and bottom part of the wall.

The closer the wainscoting is to the ceiling, the narrower the ceiling will look.

In general, the height of wainscoting is one third size of the wall. For example, if the wall is nine feet, the panel is three feet height.

So, how about the higher wall? We can use two third size. To make sure the ideal proportion, we may use what so called as ‘golden ratio’ which calculate the height of wall wainscot mathematically.

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Types of Wainscoting

In the updated designs, wainscoting not only uses solid wood, but also utilizes lighter materials such as plywood, vinyl faux wood, ceramic tiles, and so on.

Which one is the most appropriate one? It depends on the interior style since wainscoting can strengthen the design theme.

By owning wainscoting, the room will be more decorative and more artistic.

1. Beadboard


Beadboard wainscoting is familiarly used by people. It is made of a tongue and groove wooden material put together side by side.

Installing beadboard for wainscoting ideas is the simplest thing for DIY project.

We can create our own wainscoting by using this style. When all boards are attached well, we can perfect the look by using top cap on its top and bottom sides.

Moreover, it is up to us whether it will be painted or not. If you go with rustic design plan, just let it bare by its natural look.

But if you want something more sophisticated, you may paint it.

2. Raised Panel

Raised Panel

This type of wainscoting has classic appearance. The raised panel is actually the center part of the cabinet door.

Its form is a little bit mounted; higher than the surrounding part. By owning raised panel style, the wainscoting will have wider pattern.

It suits best for the spacious room.

3. Board and Batten

Board and Batten

Board-and-batten wainscoting is the wall paneling that consists of wide boards and narrow battens.

Compared to bead board wainscoting, this has two different parts that can be customized whether the long pattern is for the top side or the shorter one.

Meanwhile, unlike common wainscotings, the board-and-batten style does not need back paneling, but directly attach on the existing drywall or boards.

While this style is simple, it adds beauty and depth to any wall it is applied onto.

It can be installed in square or rectangular patterns at full or half-wall height.

The difference between this style and other wainscoting styles is that board and batten doesn’t include any back paneling; it simply uses the existing drywall and installed boards.

Wooden materials for board-and-batten wainscoting is usually made of light lumber, for example cedar, as the best one.

Harder wood is easily getting damaged or cracked by using this kind of installment.

This design is commonly for farmhouse styles, but now it is also popular in modern minimalist houses and traditional ones.

4. Picture Frame

Picture Frame

Like its name, picture frame wainscoting resembles an actual photo frame. The center is wide, so that it gives spacious impression.

It is elegant and simple. Similar to the board-and-batten style, this wainscoting does not require back panel or additional paneling before installing.

However, pay attention to the frame size unless it makes the room crowded and bulky.

5. Barn Door

Barn Door

Do you remember how the door in a farmhouse looks like? Barn door wainscoting adopts the ideas of being traditional and rustic in more modern way.

The design is easily to be recognized because of an X shape that becomes its characteristic.

On the back side, it has tongue-and-groove panel as the back part, so that the style can be said as the combination of two-styles wainscoting.

The material is usually made of pine woods.

6. Two-tone

Two tone

Two-tone wainscoting pinpoint on the two different color that affects its design.

The frames and the other parts are not painted in the same colors so that it strengthens the characters of wainscoting itself.

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Basically, there is not formal pattern for two-tone wainscoting on how coloring should be.

It depends on us whether the wainscoting boards have the same color with the wall or not, but this paneling design emphasizes on how the wainscoting is suggested in different hoes.

7. Carved


To make the wall more decorative, carved wainscoting can be a good choice.

Unique design on its boards are just beautiful because of the artistic texture on its carvings.

It highlights home decor that refers to traditional, old-styled, and vintage look.

Moreover, this paneling usually appears in a natural performance of furnished wooden materials, so that it looks classic and shinning.

Even though carved wainscoting is more costly than other paneling ideas, it successfully satisfies people with its beauty.

The design becomes a trend among vintage lovers.

8. Off-set Square

Off-set Square

Wainscoting idea is getting incredible by owning off-set square. The design has a sophisticated appearance since the pattern seems irregular and informal.

It consists of squares intersecting each other, so that it looks uneven but still neat and in order.

We can install the squares by crossing the diagonal or by sloping in 45 degree.

This is a modern contemporary wainscoting that is applicable for modern houses as well as formal buildings.

9. Metropolis Circles

Metropolis Circles

Almost similar to off-set square which is characterized by its irregular arrangement, metropolis circle wainscoting contains multiple wooden circles that shows intersection among them.

It has complex texture which makes a plain wall and simple interior design more interesting.

10. Shoulder Height

Shoulder Height

We can say that should height wainscoting is another technique of wall paneling rather than a design type.

When common wainscoting follows the rule of one third proportion for its installment, this applies higher wainscoting that closer to the ceiling.

For example, if traditional wainscoting takes 32 inches from the floor, they should height type uses 64 inches.

That will be good for the high ceiling, while the paneling helps to protect the wall from the damage.

10 Ways to Install Wainscoting

Basically, each person has their own ways how to install wainscoting.

For example, some do measurement only for the wall height and the proportion of wainscoting, but some remove the existing bead board and cover outlets at the very first place.

Those cans be done vice versa actually, however, here we suggest you with some formal steps to make you easier in doing your DIY project.

Before installing the wainscoting, prepare the tool listed below. Make sure you do not miss any single item so that the building of wainscoting will run well.

  • Wainscoting panels / boards
  • Straight edge
  • Laser level
  • Pencil
  • Stud finder
  • Power saw (optional)
  • Pry bar
  • Screwdriver/Power drill
  • Construction glue
  • Trowel
  • Hammer
  • Carpentry nails
  • Finishing nails
  • Caulk paint / stain
  • Brushes

Is everything ready? Let’s get started!

Step 1 – Measure the Room

This is the important step at the beginning. We have to measure the room including the wall height and room size by using straight edge.

Don’t forget to note the result and also mark them all by pencil from corner to corner.

Horizontal line is used to know the length of the wall, while the vertical one is to measure the proportion between the wall height and the next wainscoting installment.

Besides, it helps you to purchase your wainscoting.

Step 2 – Remove Baseboards

If the wall already has baseboards, remove them all so that we can place the wainscoting boards neatly on it.

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Please be careful in detaching the cap molding. Use a small pry bar and start it from the top, it will avoid damaging the wall or the molding.

Step 3 – Remove Outlet Covers

The outlet cover attached on the wall should be removed. Don’t worry about the electricity because you can recreate it when the wainscoting is already installed.

Use a drill or screwdriver to detach the outlet covers and let it be under the wainscoting.

After setting the wainscoting, use stud finder to find the holes where the outlet covers are, so that you can use them again.

Step 4 – Installing the top and bottom wainscoting boards

Have you found the materials for wainscoting? Please make sure that the boards have been cut and fit to the size if you purchase ready-to-use products from the marketplace.

If you work on DIY project, use power saw to cut the boards adjusted to the size you have measured beforehand.

After the wainscoting boards are ready, install the board on the bottom part first in horizontal line by using construction glue.

Repeat the last work by applying the board on the top line where the wainscoting will be.

As a not, use laser level to achieve accuracy between the horizontal and vertical axis so that the horizontal boards are precisely to its place.

Step 5 – Use a Stud Finder

Stud finder is an electronic technology to find the studs by using censor.

You only need to press the button when starting to use it, and then the stud finder will be beeping and light up when finding studs.

This technology makes us easier to mark the location where to put the wainscoting.

Step 6 – Glue the Wainscoting

Here is the time you install other wainscoting boards to get a perfect form. Put glue on the back of wainscoting boards and spread it with a trowel.

After that, one by one board is attached on the wall and pressed exactly and carefully on the wall.

Leave a space for about 1/16 inch to keep humidity and heat well. Repeat this step until all boards are installed to all sides.

Step 7 – Nail the Wainscoting into Place

Even though you already glue all the boards, you should nail the wainscoting right into the studs you marked before. It will strengthen the installation.

If you still have cover outlet work, do not forget to re-install it by creating the space on the board

Step 8 – Add the Cap Rail

It seems that the wainscoting is almost finished! To avoid the raw look, add the cap rail along the top and bottom sides of wainscoting with finishing nails.

Step 9 – Seal Wainscoting

Sometimes there are some spaces left between the rails and wainscoting panels.

Don’t worry about it; you can use caulk to cover it. Not only this space, you may even use caulk to fill up the holes appeared on the surface.

After the caulk get dried, sand it down gently to have a smooth result.

Step 10 – Paint

For the last, paint the wainscoting to make it perfect. It helps the panels looked clean and shining.

You have to use brushes, not a paint roller, since it has curved detailed that requires high carefulness in painting.

The color is usually different from the wall, but it is alright if you want to make them similar.

The most important thing is the wainscoting color is balanced to the interior in order to avoid a messy look.

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