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Wainscoting Panels

When a room is looking worn and in need of a facelift, updating with wainscoting panels is an interesting way to redecorate. Wall coverings like wallpaper, textured wall finishes and installing new drywall and mud can be messy and time consuming. Wainscot panels provide a quick and easy makeover without the mess or expense of traditional wall coverings.

Panel Types

Wainscoting panels are generally between 32 inches and three-feet tall. Panel widths vary by type and design. Some pre-fabricated panels are eight-feet in length. Other types of wainscoting include individual square and rectangular panels. Wainscot comes in a variety of materials including fiberboard, veneer topped laminate, solid wood and polyurethane resin. Solid wood wainscot is the most expensive and is most often stained. Laminate panels can be painted but produce a more elegant finish if stained. Fiberboard must be painted and polyurethane resin can be painted or stained. Some resin wainscot panels have a wood grain finish.


One type of wainscoting panels is commonly referred to as beadboard. Modern beadboard resembles the traditional tongue and groove planks of wood that were once used to produce wainscoting. Grooves cut into this type of wainscot panels gives the appearance of tongue and groove boards without the labor-intensive installation of this type of wainscot. Beadboard panels are available in many lengths and heights. Unfinished and pre-finished beadboard is available by the piece and in kits. Beadboard kits usually include all the necessary items to complete the project.

Wainscot Trim

Wainscot trim is added at the top and the bottom of wainscot panels. The baseboard trim provides the foundation for the panels, and some trim has a groove to hold the panels in place. Baseboard trim for wainscot panels can be standard baseboard trim or wider and more ornate. Taller baseboard trim is used for ornately carved wainscot panels in large rooms. Wainscot panels have a top trim board that helps to hold the panels in place. Smaller rooms, like bathrooms, use thin top molding while larger rooms with taller or intricately grooved wainscot uses a wider top trim.

Installing Wainscot

Installing wainscot is easy and requires only a few tools. Wainscot kits are available with all the necessary hardware and adhesives. Adhesives are used to help hold the panels to the wall especially in high moisture areas. Before installing wainscoting panels, it is important to mark the wall using a level and measuring tape. These marks will ensure leveland proper placement of the panels.

For special cuts such as a hole for an outlet, use a tape measure to mark the area where the outlet is on the panel. Using a keyhole saw or a small handsaw or jig saw and cut out the area for the outlet. These types of special cuts are the only difficult step of wainscot installation. Once all the panels are in place, measure, cut and install the top trim. Be sure to use finishing nails when installing both the baseboard and top trim boards. Using large nails may cause the trim boards to crack or split.

Wainscoting panels are easy to work with. Pre-finished wainscot panel kits reduce the time required to paint or stain the panels and trim boards. Any room can undergo a facelift in a weekend using wainscot panels.

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