DIY Wainscoting Ideas

When looking to remodel a room by adding a new style, consider the many DIY wainscoting ideas that are available. Remodeling your home can be exciting, cost effective and easy to do yourself. Wainscoting is a type of paneling added to existing walls to provide a non-flat surface that comes in many styles.

Wainscoting in the US

When European settlers came to America, they brought with them decorating styles that were unique to their countries of origin. Many East Coast cottages and homes contain tongue and groove type wainscoting that reflects an English, Scottish or Irish decor.

Prefabricated Wainscoting

Today, prefabricated wainscoting is available in many styles. Most prefabricated wainscoting panels are designed to be cut-to-fit, eliminating time consuming measuring and fitting of pre-cut pieces. Trim board that is placed on the top and bottom can come beveled or not depending on what type you select. Most prefabricated wainscoting panels are unfinished allowing you to finish them as you desire.

Raised Panels

Wainscoting was originally used to protect walls in high traffic areas, and was stained and sealed to provide more protection to plaster walls. Scuffs, dings, and abrasions take their toll on plaster walls. In high traffic areas, patching the plaster and painting was the only solution for high traffic areas. Raised panel wainscoting was an expensive and labor consuming task. Today, plain, decorative and even carved design panels are available in kits and by the section.


Many New England homes contain a type of simple wainscoting called “beadboard”. Straight geometric panels of wood with a plain top molding and thin plain baseboard type molding often resembles tongue and groove. Beadboard can be tongue and groove wood that has been glued together or a single sheet of wood carved to resemble tongue and groove. Larger designs are typically made on a single sheet of wood.

Decorating with Beadboard

These simple designs may bring a rustic look to a living or dining room especially when lightly stained and polished. Placed in a bathroom and painted white, beadboard can reduce the need for repeated painting from normal wear and tear. Decorating ideas include painting the wall above the beadboard a light color, adding a wall paper border where the wall and ceiling meet or painting the wall in an accent color to stained beadboard.

Do It Yourself – DIY Wainscoting

Choosing to install wainscoting yourself is an easy do it yourself project. Wainscoting kits and prefabricated panels eliminate difficult cutting and trimming. Check the manufacturer installation instructions before you begin.


Many people have the necessary tools on hand. These are the tools you will need:

  • Stud finder – will be needed to locate studs.
  • Measuring tape
  • Miter saw or miter box
  • Chalk line to ensure that the panels are installed straight
  • Compressor nail gun
  • Hammer and nails work as well, if you don’t have a nail gun
  • Nails
  • Adhesive will be required

There are hundreds of DIY wainscoting ideas from which to choose. Adding wainscoting is easy to install and will provide years of beauty to your home.

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