Wainscoting has been around for two centuries already, but not a lot of people know what it means. If you have heard of it before, you must have heard of it from an interior designer or a real estate agent.
What Is Wainscoting ?
First and foremost, wainscoting is a type of wall protection that helps insulate rooms. Back in the 18th century, houses were in need of more insulation from the cold, so wainscoting became a way of serving that purpose. It is made up of wood and it only goes as high up as a meter and a half from the floor. If you have watched a few 50’s shows, you would notice that their walls often had this “dividers”. To fully understand what wainscoting is, refer to the photos below.
As you will notice, all these photos have an extra panel at the bottom portion of the walls. These are what you call wainscoting.
Although wainscoting’s main purpose was to provide insulation, modern homes no longer need the aid of an additional wooden panel to keep warm. Instead, wainscoting, as people know it today, has become a kind of wall decor that adds the right polish and elegance to a room.
The 12 Styles of Wainscoting For Every Kind of Home
Wainscoting is not limited to chair-height designs. If you have noticed in the past photos, there are wainscotings that go high up as the ceiling or 3/4’s of the wall. These styles will help you determine which goes well in every part of your home. To help you understand each style, here is a list of all of them and when and where you can use them.
1. Raised Panel
Raised panel is one of the most traditional wainscoting styles. It can even be considered as the first wainscoting style that existed. It is characterized by having raised edges and raised borders. As you can see in the photo below, the topmost and the bottommost parts of the panel has ridges.
Because of the ridges at the side, a raised panel can also be called “picture frame” wainscoting.
2. Flat Panel
Unlike the raised panel, a flat panel is a more minimalist kind of wainscoting. It has flatter lines and the middle part of the panels are not elevated. It’s like giving a border for the rectangular shapes in the middle section. For a clearer understanding of what a flat panel wainscoting style looks like, you can refer to the photos below.
To make the boards look like a border you can repaint it to complement the color of the middle panel.
3. Board and Batten Style
The board and batten style is composed of wooden slabs with boards on top and at the bottom. It is often confused with flat wainscoting styles because they look similar. In the olden days, board and batten styles was a product of putting together different slabs of wood and then covering the topmost part to hide the actual installation. Today, board and batten styles are more seamless that you don’t need to hide the fact that you put different wooden panels side by side.
4. Beadboard Style
Of all the wainscoting styles you’ll ever encounter, the easiest to recognize is the beadboard style. A beadboard style of wainscoting involves equally shaped panels that are separated by thin groves. Because they are thin and long, it’s better to use them in small spaces so you can draw the eyes upward. They are similar to how curtains make space seem bigger.
5. Barn Door Style
Barn door style wainscotings are easy to distinguish. They usually have a large “x” at the middle of a box which is a lot similar to the designs you see on the farm. It may sound weird to have a farm design on a modern bathroom, but apparently, it works! Take a look at this sleek and modern toilet and bath with a barn door style ceiling wainscoting. Even if the space is small, the full-length wainscoting makes it look big and spacious.
6. Two-Pattern Wainscoting
Want to add more dimension to your walls? Why not have two styles of wainscoting? In this country-style bedroom, you can see that mixing two different wainscoting styles can still make the room look elegant. One trick here is to make sure they are separated beautifully by a border (thanks to the flat panel wainscoting at the back). You can also have different colors for each type of wainscoting you will use.
7. Color Contrast Style
Looking for another way to make your wainscoting stand out? You can have it painted with two contrasting colors. In this way, both the back wall and the wainscoting will not be unnoticed. One of the most common contrasting hues is black and white. This living room wall makes sure that these colors are being balanced with the use of old-fashioned frames.
8. Horizontal Wainscoting
Most wainscoting styles draw the eye upward. However, this isn’t the only direction there is. Explore other tricks to make a room bigger by trying a horizontally-oriented wainscoting design. Take a look at this room that has boards lined on top of each other. As you can see, it gives a softer approach to a children’s room. If you want to add wainscoting to a kids’ room, then you should consider having fewer patterns and more boards so that it resembles a rustic feel rather than a colonial atmosphere.
The same goes for country homes that have rustic themes. Horizontally-oriented wainscoting can give it a more natural look because it resembles wooden boards.
9. Sculpted Style
Nowadays, wainscoting is no longer limited to lines and patterns. In fact, there are ways for you to incorporate your own designs to your walls. Take a look at these wainscoting designs that make you want to design your own wall decor.
10. Full Ceiling Style
Although a bit pricey, a full ceiling wainscoting design is worth every penny. It gives the whole room a different touch of elegance that no plain wall can give. To balance it out, use wainscoting on one side of the wall while you keep the others simply painted. In this way, it won’t be too much for your guests and your other housemates.
You can also cover every wall with wainscoting if you want extra insulation. This is common among hotels since they are always cold no matter what the season is outside. Plus, a floor-to-ceiling wainscot gives a simple yet elegant design to the hallways.
11. A Play with Patterns
Straight lines and shapes are so last season! Be one step ahead of the current designs by having asymmetrical or modern patterns on your wainscot. Take a look at these patterns that make your living room an elegant place to lounge in. These patterns can be even more accented by painting them with a modern color like gray or white.
12. New York Style
And then you have your bricks. Here’s a tip. Since bricks are more expensive to use, you can use wooden panels or plastic wall paneling sculpted to look like bricks. Depending on the paint you use, they can either resemble tiles or actual bricks!
All the Places You Can Have Wainscotings
If you think the dining room is the only place to have wainscotings, think again. There are at least 5 areas where you can place these versatile wall decors. Here are some of them.
1. Living Room
Living rooms are where you often entertain guests. Although modern homes can easily be insulated, nothing beats an extra layer of warmth for all your guests. Adding wainscotings to a room will also give it an instant elegance even without adding too many modern pieces. Take a look at this living room. Even though it isn’t filled to the brim with furniture and decors, the wainscotings immediately make it presentable.
2. Dining Room
Dining rooms have always been places where wainscotings can be seen. If you are wondering why wainscots are often white, it’s because it gives a cleaner effect to a room. Since dining areas are already filled with color (like the photo below), you want something that can help balance everything.
Doorways are one of the places that go unnoticed. They are often just passageways for visitors, but this does not mean you should not make it look good. This doorway shows that it deserves some attention. From the wallpaper to the wainscoting, it tells the visitors that they are welcome to enter the house.
Baths are often cool places filled with tiles and ceramic furnishings. Even if you have a heater in the shower, you will almost always feel cold once you step out of it. One way to keep this room warm is to have wainscotings installed.
There’s another reason why you should consider adding wainscotings to your bath. Are you aware that water damage and moisture can affect your drywall? If you didn’t, then now you know of a way to prevent it. By adding a wainscot, you are preventing water and moisture to seep into the drywall damaging the main structure.
Doorways aren’t the only places that don’t get a lot of attention. Hallways of offices and hotels are almost always neglected. Nonetheless, you can do something about it for you to get other people’s attention toward it. A simple wainscoting design can go a long way to capture the interest of your visitors.
Add a little touch of cozy to your room by adding wainscots. Apart from making the room warmer, it’s a great way to make it look more put together.
And then there’s the staircase. Most people forget that you can design the walls around your stairs. To prevent dull-looking walls in this area, add flat wainscotings or raised panels.
The last but not the least is the kitchen. Wainscotings instantly make a kitchen look bigger and more spacious.
FAQs on Wainscoting
1. How much does wainscoting cost?
Wainscoting costs can vary depending on a number of factors. These factors often involve the kind of material you will use, the height of the design, and the actual patterns. If you plan on using wood, then expect to shell out at least $15 per square foot. This price even increases as you choose a higher grade of wood. If you are on a budget, it is better to look for manufactured material since they can also last longer and are already pre-made.
2. Can you DIY wainscoting installation?
You can definitely make wainscoting installation as your personal DIY project. Although it is not as easy as installing a few boards, it can be done with the help of a skilled carpenter. If you don’t have any, make sure that you understand how wainscoting works. It also helps that you know how to measure and to determine if all panels are aligned.
3. Does wainscoting add value to a home?
Wainscoting can be considered as a renovation, so it does add value to your home. It also makes a place look more elegant and expensive even if the cost of adding wainscotings isn’t high.
4. Is wood the only material for wainscoting?
No, you can also use MDF, the drywall itself, embossed metal, and plastic.
5. Where is the best place to put wainscoting?
Wainscoting can be used in different rooms, but if you don’t have enough budget, the rooms that should get this decor are the rooms prone to wear and tear. For example, the rooms that are often exposed to cuffs, shoes, and scratches should have priority. However, if money isn’t a problem, then you can put it in almost any part of your home as seen in the previous section of this article.
Wainscotings’ main purpose is to add insulation, but now, it serves something more. It adds value to your home, it makes it look elegant, and it makes a room look spacious.