Wainscoting vs. Beadboard Paneling | [VIP Classic Moulding]

Wainscoting vs. Beadboard Paneling

Tired of having bland walls in your dining room or family room? Are you looking for a unique way to spice up the space? Then wood paneling like wainscoting and beadboard may be for you. Installing these goes beyond the power of paint, adding geometrical dimension to the space. You can paint it a different colour from your other walls to add even more contrast (this has become a hot interior design trend). There is much flexibility with wood paneling, such as the area covered, and the type used. You can also play with materials and finishes. Opt for a reflective gloss or for a matte finish. You can even play with different colours on the paneling.

Recently, in the interior design world, wood has been utilized in new ways to add texture, uniqueness, and focal points to rooms. While it can take additional time on top of the painting, the result is worth it. Beadboard was more so popular between the 1970s and 1990s, but it is making a comeback, as people use and restore this feature to add contrast to their homes. So, when it comes to beadboard vs. wainscoting, what is the exact difference and what do they look like? Continue reading to find out.

Wainscoting vs Beadboard 

When it comes to defining the difference between wainscoting vs. breadboard, take note that the difference isn’t in the material used, but rather the style.

What is Wainscoting?

Wainscoting, or wallboard panels, are wooden panels that cover half or a lower portion of a wall. They used to function as wall protection or to cover up blemishes, but now they are mainly used for décor.

People can even separate the boards and add frames, and some people opt to use it on the entire wall.

What is Beadboard?

While breadboard can cover the same area as wainscoting, it uses narrow pieces of wood that contain fissures and grooves. These ridges are also known as beads, giving beadboard its name. Beadboard are commonly installed in dining rooms, but you can get creative and add them to different rooms in your home. Some prefer using it for an entire bathroom wall, making it an accent and statement piece. Hall wall paneling ideas can be implemented too.
Now that we have covered wainscoting and beadboard, let’s explore other panel types, like shiplap vs. tongue and groove. Shiplap uses horizontal pieces of wood that looks like siding, while tongue and groove boards contain divots and protruding pieces of wood that interlock. There is also board and batten, which contains large and vertical moulds.

For a more traditional look, opt for raised panels that contain deep square or rectangle patterns. Or for a more modern look, choose flat panels. They use the same type of moulding panel but without the raised rectangles or squares.

 A Detailed Look at Types of Wainscoting

When it comes to a wainscoting wall, there are several types of wainscoting styles. Let’s explore the different types of wainscoting and paneling in more detail.


While wainscoting uses beadboard panels, it is assembled differently. It usually covers half of a wall and all the walls in a room. It is often capped with a chair rail.

Wainscoting looks like continuous mould paneling.


Instead of one smooth board, beadboard is a continuous pattern of vertical wood panels. A groove, or bead, is in between each panel.

Tongue and Groove

Tongue and groove paneling has a flusher appearance than beadboard, as the panels don’t have beads between them. Panels have a divot for juts of wood to slide into.

These panels almost fit together like Lego building blocks. This type of wainscoting can be used for floors, ceilings, and even exterior paneling.


People who love the look of exterior paneling will use shiplap in their house. Shiplap consists of long, horizontal, overlapping boards.

Outside, this creates a weather-resistant barrier, and inside it creates a rustic and cozy look.

Board and Batten Paneling

For a vintage look, install board and batten wainscoting. This style is often found in 19-century homes, covering entire sets of walls. Smooth boards are installed with battens over top, giving a space geometric depth.

Battens can be placed vertically or horizontally. Essentially, it will create a sunken-square look, and the battens cover the seams between the boards.

wainscoting classical GTA

Raised Panels

Raised panels are the most classic type you can find in a house. This type of paneling can span half of a wall or the entire wall.

It looks like a pattern of empty frames, with square or rectangular shapes protruding and adding texture. These panels often make for a beautiful accent wall.

wainscoting paneling

Flat Panels

If you want a seamless and simplistic look, then go for flat panels. These panels offer the most minimalist style out of all the types, with no geometric dimensions, textures, or dividers.

There is only a tiny line between each panel.

wainscoting trim installation

Beadboard vs. Wainscoting Appearance

The main difference between beadboard vs. wainscoting is the look of the wood and how it is styled.

Beadboard has rows of vertical panels with divots in between, while wainscoting usually uses larger, smoother boards that look like frames.

Beadboard vs. Wainscoting Composition

Beadboard and wainscoting can be made of wood or fiberboard, but often the dimensions are different. For instance, for wainscoting, the panels are usually 3 feet by 4 feet, and it comes with the mould finishes.

With beadboard, the dimensions are 4 feet by 8 feet. Some companies already prime and paint the surface, making installation quicker and easier.

In the past, pure wood was the most common material for both styles, but with today’s environment, more flexible materials are available.

The interior of homes go through temperature changes, making the wood constrict when cold and swell when hot. This fluctuation can make pure wood wear out faster.

Due to this, companies will now opt for waterproof MDF or PVC, protecting your walls from water damage too.

Wainscoting vs. Beadboard Cost

Beadboard is cheaper than wainscoting, but at the end of the day you should choose the style that more accurately reflects your personality. Beadboard usually uses pine wood. On average, this type of wood (unfinished) costs $1.84 per square foot.

So, if you need to install the material to cover 16 feet, you are look at around $77. MDF and PVC are even cheaper, but you should consider the labour cost too if you are not installing the beadboard yourself. Companies can charge anywhere from $2 to $3.50 per square foot.

For wainscoting, you can expect to pay around $23 per square foot. For flat panels, the average price range is $7 to $10 per square foot, while the raised panels can cost anywhere from $10 to $30 square foot.

Keep in mind, wainscoting has wider panels than beadboard. Installation costs for wainscoting can range from $2 to $4 per square foot.

Evaluating the Ease of Installing Wainscoting and Beadboard Paneling on Your Own

While the installation process to do it yourself is fairly straightforward, it requires a lot of cutting, so if you do not feel confident with your measurements or you do not have a steady hand or the tools, you should call in a professional.

Many cuts need to be made to slide the boards in place together. Common tools you will need include a miter saw and a nail gun. Common mistakes that can happen include improper measurements, which leads to too little or too much material.

Another mistake that can occur is the panels not fitting together perfectly, causing additional pressure on the wood or chipping. Hiring a professional contractor is encouraged for a project like this.

By ordering too much material or having to redo the area, you are wasting your time and money. With a professional, you don’t have to lift a finger and they use the utmost efficiency.

Call the Pros

When you are looking to transform or update a room in your house, this is no small task, and it is something you will live with for years to come, so you want it done right. At VIP Classic Moulding, we finish every project to perfection, as we specialize in trim, moulding, and paneling. We can also install crown moulding, pot lights, and waffle ceilings. Additionally, we specialize in acoustic wall panels, which gives a room a slimming and simple look. They look like beadboard, but the strips of panel are even thinner, and instead of beads in between each panel, there are divots of space.

Home is where the heart is, and we want you to love your space, so we have a team of the most dedicated contractors who treat your house like their own. We care about your home and the design you want to achieve. When you call 416-670-8000, you can book a showroom appointment where we can delve into the finer details of exactly what you imagine. Let’s elevate your space; we’ll help you fall even more in love with your home.

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