Wainscoting – Definitive Guide

Wall Paneling Toronto

What is wainscoting?

Have you ever walked into a room and been immediately captivated by the decorative panels on the walls? If so, that’s the subtle yet alluring effect of a well-executed technique called wainscoting. Wainscoting is the dressing up of interior walls using panels, boards and mouldings that enhance the appeal of the room. Wainscoting height is typically set at one-third of the wall.

There are numerous wainscoting ideas to fit any interior style.

Types of Wainscoting

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If you are considering installing wainscoting in your home, the two types of wainscoting techniques you will need to choose from are:

  • Picture Frame Wainscoting – this is the most common type of wainscoting and also referred to as applique wainscoting. The panels used are made from MDF panel moulding and create a very clean and polished finish. MDF wainscoting is often preferred by homeowners because the installation process can be completed in under 3 days and does not leave behind a huge mess to clean.
  • Paneled Wainscoting – this type of wainscoting uses panels to cover an entire wall. The end result is a traditional yet elegant look. Achieving this look takes a little longer than picture frame wainscoting, requiring 1 – 10 days to complete.

What Is the Purpose of Wainscoting?

Stairs wainscoting Toronto

The term wainscoting simply refers to the lining of interior walls with protective panels that cover the lower portion of a wall. Originally, it was a functional feature.

The purpose of wainscoting has evolved over time and now is used more now for decorative purposes. Wainscoting designs have also changed over time and can be customized to suit personal style. Over the course of centuries, its popularity has risen and fallen but it has still remained a feature many homeowners continue to love.

Wainscoting is commonly used in areas of a home or building that are particularly prone to hazards like kitchen, bathrooms, stairs and foyers.

Not only is wainscoting used to protect interior walls from damage, it can be used to cover up existing damage.

Is It Hard to Install Wainscoting?

The process of installing wainscoting panels is pretty straightforward and can take between 1-10 days to complete. With the right equipment, you can do it yourself.

Does Wainscoting Add Value?

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Yes. Your home is a financial investment and any improvement that you do to your home will increase the value of your home. Wainscoting is a great way to give your home’s interior an upgrade without embarking on a major renovation project. While the cost of wainscoting only costs a fraction of what it would cost to renovate a room, wainscoting adds significant value to your home due to its decorative nature.

Another advantage of wainscoting is that the panels provide insulation for your home which can help you conserve your home’s energy consumption and result in energy savings. And because wainscoting contributes to the beauty of your home, it’s an easy way to make your home more appealing.

Is Wainscoting Dated?

Crown Moulding in Pickering

Wainscoting is a technique that has been around for centuries and dates back to the 1300s when boards were used at the bottom of walls to protect them from chair legs, spurs on riding boots or some other hazard. These boards were typically made out of solid wood.

Today, modern wainscoting remains a functional and decorative feature in homes to protect interior walls and add to the aesthetics of a home. Instead of the traditional solid wood, the panels used for wainscoting today are typically made out of plywood, plastic, and medium-density fiberboard (MDF).

Do You Put Wainscoting Over Drywall?

Wainscoting living room

Yes. One of the most important things to do when installing wainscoting panels over drywall is to make sure that you prepare the wall adequately before installation begins. Make sure that you’re working with a clean surface and any loose dirt or oil that may interfere with adhesiveness has been removed from the drywall.

Another piece of advice is to stack the panels in the room and allow them to remain there for at least three days before the installation process begins. This is because wood paneling can contract and expand due to temperature and humidity fluctuations. So stacking the walls is actually a good way to ensure that the wood is able to adjust to the conditions of the room prior to installation.

How Long Does It Take to Install Wainscoting?

Bathroom wainscotting Toronto

The type of wainscoting and the size of the room you are installing the panels will determine how long it will take to complete the process. For example, if you have a room that is 12×12 square feet and you are using wood panels, you can expect the process to take about 17 hours to complete.

Keep in mind that paneled wainscoting takes longer (1-10 days) to install than picture frame wainscoting, which only takes 1-3 days.

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