Installing DIY Wainscoting Panels, What is it & Height


I’ve painted my dining room (used as a piano room) many times in the past but always liked the look of wainscoting. Finally, I decided to try my hand at it myself, DIY style! Luckily the room started out with a chair rail moulding already so I didn’t have to mess with trying to put that up.


I don’t have any power tools so when I discovered premade frame moulding from Lowes I was all over it.

I measured and figured out how many frames and which sizes I would need for each wall. Then I just nailed each one up with finishing nails. No fancy tools, just me and my hammer. I then caulked around each one. (And even though I have caulked in the past, for this project there was a learning curve!)

Here is the room with the moulding up.

I needed to prime it next. And since I had a two year old can of primer stuck in the garage baking in the Texas heat already, I decided not to buy a new can. Surprisingly the primer didn’t give the greatest coverage but I proceeded on.

Okay, so here is the fun part. Instead of using a can of oil based paint that I already had to match the trim throughout the house, I decided to color match it into a latex based paint. (I just didn’t want to deal with the oil based paint.) I thought the color was a little off when I saw it at the store but the paint guy insisted that it was the right color and that it was just a different sheen. I took it home and discovered that it was indeed a slightly different color. The trim throughout my house is more of a creamy color while this paint was more of a true white. It did not match the baseboards or chair rail moulding so I repainted all that. The new whiter color doesn’t go as well with the beige carpeting as the other trim color did. I had bought some grey paint to go in the room as well but it had been matched it to the original trim color. So it stayed half way painted like this for over a week while I decided what to do. So frustrating!

I decided to just finish it up and live with it for a while. Aside from a few frustrations installing DIY wainscoting was actually quite an easy project that can significantly improve the look of your wall, bathroom, dining room, or wherever you choose to include it!

Here is the wainscoting with the grey paint.

And the after. It’s growing on me. The rest of the room needs some styling though.

While wainscoting may have previously been more popular in the past, and there are definitely some examples around the country where it hasn't been done in a very elegant manner, we'll explore some of the things that you might want to consider in the process.

We'll also take a look at whether or not it's actually a thing that you might want to do yourself, too. We'll also be taking a look at an unexpected side effect that may arise from you installing it, if you are doing so in an old home where you aren't taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself. Yes, if you're living in an old home, there are unfortunately just a range of potential issue that you will want to be aware of so that you don't expose yourself and your children to harmful substances. It's the exact same way that you will want to make sure that you're protecting yourself when you're repurposing an old window frame like the experiment that I outlined in another article.

So, should you still be installing wainscoting in 2021?

Our answer to that question is that it's a resounding yes, when you take a little bit of time to really consider how it is best incorporated into your home in a manner that compliments all the various aspects of the home.

We have all seen dreadful examples of paneling in old homes that were built in the 1970s and 1980s, and that are just screaming that something should have been done along the way in order to rectify the situation and once again make them bearable to look at.

While the traditional wood paneling that was put up in the 70s and 80s usually goes from the ceiling to the floor in a way we currently think screams outdated, there are inherently mistakes you can make with wainscoting as well.

When it is being installed properly, and done in a manner that is true to current times, it will have some of these following benefits.

  • Adding warmth to a room - when wainscoting is being installed properly, it is one of those decorative elements that can add a sense of both warmth and personality to a room, why they are common in rooms like the dining room. Perhaps without you even noticing it, it is something that breaks up a monotonous wall and gives it a bit of character.
  • It protects the drywall behind it - if you have either kids or pets, there is a pretty high probability that you are probably finding various bumps and bruises around the home. When enquired about, no one seems to know how they got there either. With the installation of wainscoting, you are adding a protective lower layer that helps minimize the risk that your drywall suddenly ends up having an inexplicable hole in it as the paneling is more sturdy than the material behind it.
  • It is decorative - need we say it again? Perhaps the future of wainscoting is what we now think of wooden paneling from the 80s, but for now, it's a decorative element that is easy to add to your home while giving it some character - just see the guide above!

Whether you're doing an extended water fast, trying to optimize your life for autophagy or wanting to lose face fat, there are certain objectives that you're trying to accomplish, and it really is no different than if you are installing wainscoting at your house. You have certain objectives and that is what you're trying to achieve.

Now, if you don't make sure that you're matching them very well with your existing house, there are various mistakes you could be making which would mean you likely wouldn't be ending up with the desired results. If you were to choose a very modern style, while you live in a rather old home, there would be a mismatch between what it is you're trying to achieve and the way that you are going about it.

In order to avoid your home turning out to have some really big inconsistencies, it's important that you best go about matching both your home's existing style with the wainscoting, but also the type of atmosphere that it is you're trying to create. In addition to that, you will want to make sure that the style you're choosing will go well with the type of furniture that you currently have.

While the future buyers of the home may not be forced to have furniture like yours, you don't necessarily want to be actively creating a home improvement project simply for you to be able to successfully sell the home. If you do end up putting up paneling in your home that no one seems to believe fits with the rest of the house, you'll probably have to either remove it before you try to sell your home, or you may at the very least end up in a situation where a potential buyer is wanting to lower the price so that they can budget a certain amount of money to remedy the situation.

Do you immediately start thinking about some of that extremely hideous 80s paneling that you will still see in various houses? I thought so. If you were the buyer of one of those homes, you would at least want to make sure that it was in your budget to bring the house up to some standard that you could see yourself living in.

There is generally believed to be only five types of wainscoting which includes beaded, flat panel, overlay and board and batten and raised, however your options may still become a little bit more granular than that. As you can make from the name, raised panel will be so that the chair, rail and top rail will be in front of the panel.

A beaded panel is simply the type of panel, whereas a flat panel will seem to be more so in one layer than the other options. If you have wall-paneled wainscoting, you're still revealing the drywall through where the paneling would otherwise be.

There are also certain rooms where a specific type is more common. Raised panels are very common in the dining room as well as the living room with its more distinctive bevelled edge. Besides getting the right style, you should make sure that you are getting ones that match your existing home. While the original wainscoting was made of wood, there are now more types on the market, and while wood is the most timeliness material to go for, reasons such as high humidity may keep it from being a good option where you live. It's always important to consider whether there are any reasons why the climate in the region you're in means there is a certain type of material that wouldn't be a good idea.

Although a wooden option may be more expensive, it also comes with the advantage of being able to be painted at a later point. Feel it's better to simply stain it or leave it as is? Those are options, too. However, some of the other wainscoting materials don't have those options.

If you look at other websites, you can see some of them reporting that the project took them approximately 5 hours. While I didn’t time myself in the process, it is really quite likely that I spent about this amount of time on the project. For the amount of time that I spent as well as the cost of the project, I really believe that installing wainscoting was worth it. It completely adds a new look to the entire space, one that I really like!

Although this may have originally been a measure that was used as additional insulation, and so as to keep out the elements, it really has an elegant, decorative feel to it when it’s being done right. No wonder we’re such fans of this architectural component from the 16th century, having its roots in Europe.

The typical height of wainscoting is 3 foot, although it can vary. The usual recommendation that it should go up about a third of the size of the wall, but it will usually come up to about the same top as your chair. 

Did you ever find yourself accidentally making dents in the drywall as you were moving furniture around? Wainscoting is a great way to cover it up and no one will ever know that there is a massive hole behind the panel. 

When done correctly, it is one of the few home improvement projects that will have a significant, positive ROI when you’re selling your home. Where you will usually recoup somewhere between 50-70% of the money you put into either adding a new bathroom or remodeling an existing one, the increased decorative component of installing wainscoting, along with its affordability makes it a really good investment. If you’re installing it yourself, that is when you will really see the investment paying off as you’re going to sell the house as you won’t even pay for the labor - it could even be a fun project for you to do with your kids. 

If you’re doing it yourself, the cost of wainscoting is probably around $200-300 for a room, as the panels usually cost around $1 per square foot.

So, I sometimes get what people may refer to as crazy ideas - I recently didn't eat for a continuous 14 days. That's right. I spent 14 days not eating at all, only consuming water, caffeine and electrolytes. If you want to read more about this weight loss and the increased levels of autophagy, press one of the links.

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