What is Wainscot

What is Wainscot?

Many a homeowner will ask this question. Pronounced “Wayne’s Coat”, it started  many years ago as wood added to the bottom of a wall to protect it from abuse from mud and boot spurs. Today it is used more to enhance the look of a room or hallway but still helps protect your walls.

Installing wainscot is a wonderful Do It Yourself project that you will really be proud of. It can change the entire look of a room.

There are many different patterns and products that can be used to create a wainscot look in your home. From using beadboard panels, beadboard slats, board and batten to the many different types of molding available.

Material Matters
Wainscoting’s looks, how it holds up, and its cost depend on what it’s made of.

Solid wood
The original wainscoting material. Paint lesser species, such as pine, or clear-coat the good stuff, such as walnut and cherry, to highlight its color and grain. Wood requires careful installation and finishing to prevent cracks and gaps caused by seasonal expansion and contraction.

Medium-density fiberboard cuts like wood but doesn’t expand, contract, warp, split, or have knots. Comes either primed for paint or veneered. Keep it away from water, which causes it to swell and break down. Specially treated moisture-resistant MDF, however, can stand up to steam in a bath.

Made from either cellular PVC or the same solid surfacing material used for kitchen counters. Looks like painted wood but won’t rot, making it ideal for baths, laundry rooms, and even a kitchen back splash.

The long, wide sheets make installation fast—just rip it down, glue it to the wall, and finish with cap and base moldings. Unlike those in other materials, the groove profiles tend to be shallow and rough.


Other deciding factors will be how high you plan to make it, what style and whether you plan to paint or stain your wainscot.

Photo source:

Here is a great video to help you with you installation.


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