Wainscoting or paneling, as it is more commonly known, is a type of finish carpentry. Instead of covering walls with wallpaper or paint, you can choose to wainscot instead. Beautiful wainscoting can serve as a great decorative accent to any room and add additional insulation if you live in a cold area. It is also a great way to cover up unsightly parts of the wall.
Wainscoting refers to paneling only the lower section, about 3 to 5 feet of the wall, right below molding or a dado rail. The great thing about this nifty type of home improvement is that you can do it to any part of the house and you can find a type of wainscoting that suits your lifestyle and budget.
Traditionally, hard wood or soft wood is used for wainscoting. A cut of wood known as the tongue and groove (so named because they can be joined to make a flat surface) is normally used for most wainscoting projects. The groove is a slot cut into one edge and the tongue fits right into these grooves, creating a seamless look. This allows for a close fit that gives the impression of a flat surface. If you’re into DIY home improvement projects, this is definitely one of the best materials around for wainscoting.
One of the lovely things about modern technology is that there are a variety of materials available for any homeowner looking to improve their home. Plastic, vinyl and other materials can be used for wainscoting as well. Bamboo is also a great alternative if you are looking to use environmentally friendly materials in your home.
You can even think out of the box and use upholstery or cloth when wainscoting. Budget friendly, pre-made wainscoting can be found in most hardware stores. It really depends on what type of look you are going for.
For those with higher budgets, you can also think of decorative wood paneling, known as boiserie, where carvings or other decorations are placed directly on the wainscot to add an ornamental touch. For the more traditional minded, this can give you a lot of design opportunities.
If you are just looking to make some visual improvements, then faux wainscoting may be the solution for you. This type of wainscoting involves using only paint or wallpaper for minimal work and maximum impact.
You can even wainscot areas of your bathroom with tile or bead board. If you use wood, keep in mind that the wood must be sealed to prevent future mold build up and water damage. Caulking, or sealing the joints of the wood, comes in handy and prevents future problems.
Taking a few precautions now will no doubt save you a lot of money in the long run. You do not want to have to reinstall the wainscoting in a few years just because of problems that can easily be prevented! This is true for any part of the house you wish to panel, especially if you live in rainy areas or experience long winters.