Wainscoting is a term that applies to almost any decorative panelling applied to the lower portion of your walls, although it’s original purpose was to provide a bit of insulation and protection in old masonry walls. The conventional method of installation was tongue and groove pine boards installed vertically on the wall and topped with a chair rail, although bead board, MDF strips and pre-formed panels are also common methods.
Once you’ve decided on material and design, lay out the design on your walls using a measuring tape, level and chalk line – snapping a level line around the room for reference. Be sure the account for the thickness of your chair rail and baseboard when determining the layout. If your design includes vertical or horizontal strips, be sure to draw these on the wall as well. Using the reference lines, install your panelling around the room with glue and finishing nails (an 18 gauge nail gun makes quick work of this). Glue will help the panels stick in the areas between wall studs. Measure, mark and cut out holes for electrical plugs before installing panels, and finish off the walls with a chair rail and baseboard.
There are countless possibilities when it comes to wainscoting – take a look at the wide variety of profiles available for trimming out wall panels. Have a look in design magazines, on the internet and at friend’s houses before making a decision for your own home – and then get to it!