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20+ Fabulous Wainscoting Ideas

If you are not knowledgeable about what Wainscoting is, it is when you have wooden or plastic panels added to the lower part of your walls covering about a third of them. It is a great way to add texture to a room lifting it and adding style and character. It first became a popular way to decorate a room in the early 1900s because it was an effective way to disguise the damp on the interior walls. Hard wood strips, plastic panels or wood boards can be attached to the walls using glue or nails, and can be of different sizes ranging from just three feet up to eight. To stop furniture from being damaged by the top of the treatment molding is used to cap it. This style fell out of fashion in the 1950s but is becoming more popular again today.

You will find Wainscoting used a lot in older homes where it brings a sense of class and sophistication to any room it is used in. If you want some vintage charm added somewhere in your home this may be a great option for you to explore. Higher panels will give people entering the room the impression of liveliness. Combining this wall treatment option with good choices in furniture will make it feel almost magical and certainly classical. But as well as being aesthetically pleasing these panels can have a practical purpose nowadays too. They are great for covering up cracks, holes or scratches on the lower part of your walls. This may be something you especially want to consider for the kid’s bedrooms which are prone to getting a lot of abuse! You could use something like cushion pads for children’s bedrooms to help prevent further damage to the panels and to themselves.

wainscoting Wainscoting on stairwell

The great thing about this decorative tool is how easy it is even if this is your first time. Tool stores will sell 4 by 8 sheet panels and if you go with beadboard texture you will find lined up side by side the seam is barely visible. But you can also hire someone to do the job for you if you prefer. Below is a closer look at the types of Wainscoting you can choose from, and then there are ideas on what looks you can create and how it cam be used successfully in various rooms.

Types of Wainscoting

Prefabricated Wainscoting – You can get a lot of different styled prefabricated wainscoting panels that are made so you just have to cut them to fit where you need them. This saves you a lot of time and many panels made this way are left unfinished so you can do that yourself. This way it will be exactly what you want for the room, you can create whatever impression you want. There is trim board for the bottom and top of the panels and you can choose a type there too for example one option is beveled. Prefabricated wainscoting is one of the cheaper options for this wall treatment, you can get options that will be priced under $100 a running foot. Going with something like mahogany or cherry hardwood is more expensive at about $300 to $400 a running foot.

prefabricated-wainscoting Prefabricated type

Raised Panel Wainscoting – Fits very well in areas like dining or living rooms and is very elegant in style. Also a good option for improving the look of a stairwell. As the name suggests instead of a flat finish like traditional flat panel wainscoting, the raised-panel wainscoting has a raised design finish against a background of flat wood. It is often used three to five feet above the floor underneath railing or moulding. You will find that as well as having top molding the wainscoting also has a bottom rail made from the same material. As mentioned it is great for preventing scuff marks left by furniture on the walls.

raised-panel-wainscot Raised panel

Beadboard Wainscoting – Beadboard is where the panels of wood are geometric and straight with thin simple molding at the base and top and looks like tongue and groove. It is often found in New England homes, simple and rustic in style. The tongue-and-groove effect can be created by carving from a single sheet (as found in designs that are a lot bigger) or created by gluing together wood. You can add to the rustic feel by staining and polishing them, or paint it a white finish and it becomes a lovely addition to a bathroom. There are many ways you can decorate around beadboard, for example you could paint the wall color above it in a lighter color, or use an accent color and stain the panels. You could also use a wall paper border where the ceiling and wall meet.

beadboard Beadboard panelling

Recessed Panel Wainscoting – This is a type of wainscoting that is popular with Mission style or Arts and Crafts style rooms. It is quite a labor intensive option as you start with a baseboard piece at the bottom that uses cap or shoe mouldings to build it up. Then a horizontal piece is placed as a bottom rail, then the vertical pieces called the stiles and the panels, then a top rail then cap or chair rail. To make this an easier process recessed panelling can be created by using sheet material to panel and then putting the moldings over it.

recessed-panel Recessed paneling

Overlaid Panel Wainscoting – This looks like raised panel wainscoting but gives you the chance to create designs that are a lot more intricate, detailed or extravagant. Between rails of a flat panel an overlay of solid wood is centered then glued. This creates a recess around it and is perfect if you wish to create a Neoclassical design. To enhance the effect, ogee molding can be applied. You can have base molding below it and a chair rail above.

overlaid-panel Overlaid Panel Wainscot

Faux Wainscoting – If you want the look of wainscoting without the work or cost there are ways you can use wallpaper and paint to create that kind of visual look. This is a great option if you are decorating on a budget or if time is a factor. It is also easier to paint over at a later date if you want to change the look again.

faux-wainscoting Fake wainscot created using wooden appliques

Ways you can use Wainscoting around the home

Children’s rooms – As mentioned wainscoting is a great way to cover up damage caused by your children as they rough play in their bedrooms or even playrooms. Add child-friendly cushion pads to prevent further damage and to keep the kids less prone to their own knocks and bruises.

wainscoting-children-room Wainscoting to prevent or cover up damages

Bathrooms – Wainscoting is very popular in bathrooms nowadays as it can be an inexpensive way to give your bathroom a lift. Make sure though that the panels you choose are suitable for the damp atmosphere and will not warp otherwise it could all go wrong. One option that would work is oak panelling as it is not prone to harbouring mildew or bacteria and lasts a long time. However it is not one of the cheaper options, so if the budget is tight just make sure the wood panels are painted and sealed.

wainscot-bathroom Panelling in bathroom

Dining rooms – If you like to eat in a more formal setting or you regularly host dinner parties both business and pleasure, you may want to get some panelling done in your dining room. Something like flat panel or raised wainscoting here reaching up to the wall’s middle or even higher to eye level would give the room a very elegant and cultured feel.

panelling-dining-room High panelling design for the dining room

Kitchens – You can add character to your kitchen simply by using wainscoting on your kitchen island. Instantly the room will be transformed into an area that is warm and welcoming but still beautiful. Walls and cabinet doors can be transformed also using recessed or raised panels then add a coat of paint. Use PVC and you can feel secure that there will be no rotting and it will last for years.

kitchen-wainscoting Panelling design for the kitchen

Different looks

Vintage – Anywhere you use wainscoting will instantly have a vintage feel and look to the room, whatever other colors or furniture you have in it.

vintage-wainscoting Create vintage look with wainscoting

Feminine – Some people associate panelling or wooden designs with masculine styles but this is not the case at all. Just look at the design you choose for your wainscoting wall treatment and that will give it a more feminine look if that is what you want. For example something like a diamond shape, or a trellis pattern will make the room feel softer. Get creative and put your unique personality into the design!

wainscoting-feminine Feminine look

pink-wall-wainscot Light pink panelling with pink wall for that feminine look

Casual – While inherently elegant you can still create a casual feel with wainscot walls just by your choice of panels. Flat panels combined with beadboard tongue-and-groove panels are a good example. Have middle and bottom rails that line up with the beadboard’ face and add depth by creating thicker molding above. You can then create a more continuous feel by painting the molding and wainscoting the same color or create something different.

casual-beadboard-wainscoting Casual look

Classic – If a classic look is your style use picture-frame wainscoting to decorate it with wall-frame moldings rather than picture-rail ones. You can then use paintings or art work and coordinate with the wall treatments.

picture-frame-panelling Picture frame style

Striking – You can also create a very striking and modern look with wainscoting, for example by using the Metropolis style. This uses PVC panels that are very durable and have intricate patterns but are also very trendy.

pvc-wainscoting PVC panels for the bathroom for a modern look

Additional ideas

before-after-wainscoting Before & after adding wainscot

Using wainscoting is a great way to brighten any room too. Paint it a white crisp color and use the natural light in the room to create contrast between it and the wall color. You could also use the panels to highlight the walls in a room by using different colors on the panels and the trim. Use stripped wainscoting with contrasting hues or colors on inlayed rectangles against white walls. Or leave the outer rectangles white and use color on the inner ones. Patterned wallpaper above the wainscoting would add personality and uniqueness to the room also.

  diamond-panelling Diamond pattern

  yardstick-wainscoting Yardstick wainscot   oak-wainscot Oak panelling
  high-modern-panelling High modern wainscoting   blue-white-combination Blue white combination   affordable-wainscoting Affordable $115 wainscoting
luxurious-panelling-bathroom Exquisite design for the bathroom dark-wainscot Dark full wall wainscoting wainscoting-laundry-room Laundry room wainscoting
board-batten Board and batten bright-wainscot Bright full wall panelling picture-frame-babyroom Unique wainscoting idea for the babyroom