How to Install Wainscoting

Wainscoting offers decorative and functional benefits and we’ve had it within our homes in the entries, dining rooms, living rooms, and bedrooms. The simplicity of wainscoting can add so much character to a room and the classic look can improve the atmosphere of your room or hallway through the use of paneling and textures. In this tutorial, we’re walking you through the steps on how you can add wainscoting to your home.

Dining Room Wainscoting | construction2style

Step One: Choose Material

The first step is determining your materials. Chair rail and wainscoting molding is available at any of your home improvement stores in all materials, shapes, and styles. To start, we walk up and down the aisles at Home Depot and grab a couple different pieces that we think would look best within the style of the room. We have always gotten a very plain style for the chair rail with no decorative border and then for the inner panels, we always choose one with more character.

Materials Needed 

  1. Finish Nailer
  2. Miter Saw
  3. Glue
  4. Level
  5. Pencil
  6. Tape Measure
  7. Molding Pieces
  8. Paint

Step Two: Plan The Layout

Once you have your materials, the next step is to determine how big you want your panels to be. This will help you determine how much material you should buy. You should aim to keep each panel section the same height on one wall, but not all the panel widths in the room need to be the exact same size. However, we always like to try to keep them all within an inch or two. We always measure and pencil in our layout directly onto the wall. We kept about 4″ in between the boxes.

Step Three: Place Chair Rail

Starting with the longest wall in the room determine the height to place the chair rail. We determined our height from the chairs in the room. We wanted the ledge to be right at the height of the chairs. Experts say to place the chair rails at 1/3 of the height from the ceiling. With a standard 8 foot room, the chair rail would be placed at 32″ from the floor.

how to DIY wainscoting | construction2style

Step Four: Glue Panels

Once you have your chair rails glued and nailed to the wall the next step will be to glue and nail up your inner panels. Knowing how to cut 45 angels is key to making sure each of your corners all line up with one another to create a perfect square.

Step Five: Wood Fill & Sand

Once all of your boxes are glued into place make sure you cover all nail holes with wood filler then, when the wood filler is dry, make sure to sand them all down before you paint!

Step Six: Paint

Now comes the fun part, watching your project all come together! If you’re wanting to lighten up the room, use a white or cream color for your wainscoting. For a more dramatic look, like in a powder bath, you can go darker with a gray or black paint color.

How to Install Wainscoting | construction2style