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We Love These Stylish Wainscoting Ideas to Spruce Up Your Home Design

Were you ever interested in installing wainscoting panels in your home, but you were not really sure about getting on board with this trend?

What Is Wainscoting
Image from Brandon Architects, Inc.

We’ve decided to talk more about wainscoting today, focusing on how to install wainscoting, what’s the optimal wainscoting height, and then take a look at some of the best wainscoting panels in terms of design, quality, and price.

What Is Wainscoting?

Historically, wainscoting refers to an aspect of house architecture in which solid hardwood panels were put over the lower half of the walls inside a room with the main purpose of keeping space warmer.

Wood Paneling That Covers the Bottom Half of a Wall

But the phrase has come to encompass a variety of ornamental wall paneling styles. Originally, the term wainscoting referred to chair-height wood paneling that ran the length of the bottom half of a wall.

The panels not only provided insulation, but also protected the walls from scrapes and scuffs caused by chair backs and shoe-clad feet. Wainscoting may still provide wall protection in today’s well-insulated homes, but it also adds a new level to our home’s design.

Wood Paneling That Covers the Bottom Half of a WallView in gallery
Image from carpetoneeo.com

What Are Wainscoting Panels Made Of?

Technically, wainscoting must be built entirely of real wood, but as we no longer adhere to tradition, the word has been expanded to include MDF, plastic, or plywood panels.

  • MDF
  • Plastic
  • Plywood

Apart from being less expensive than genuine wood panels, the synthetic materials we just mentioned are suitable for “faux-wainscoting” due to their ease of installation.

If you want to include this paneling feature into a kitchen or bathroom, use genuine wood since it will withstand splatters.

Another wainscotting option for bathrooms and other spaces prone to dampness is ceramic tile wainscoting, which is attractive because of its nonporous nature and ease of cleaning.

What Is the Right Wainscoting Height?

What Is the Right Wainscoting Height?
Image from snazzylittlethings.com

The conventional consensus is that wainscoting height should be ⅓ of the height of the wall, and that includes moldings and caps. Therefore, if your walls are 9 feet tall, a 3-foot wainscoting will look fantastic. Reduce the scale to around 32 inches for spaces with 8-foot walls.

Wainscoting is frequently confined to the bottom section of a wall in order to preserve the plaster beneath from moisture damage.

1/3 the Height of the Wall

However, higher wainscoting is fashionable and is also an option worth considering.  Wainscoting that extends ⅔ of the way up the wall may offer a gently textured backdrop in a space that is awash with color and design because it can still maintain a touch of neutrality.

Additionally, it is the better choice for areas with many pieces of furniture placed against the wall that would obscure the top of shorter wainscoting.

Can I Make a Wainscoting Accent Wall?

Wainscoting Accent WallView in gallery
Image from Niosi Design

One of the best things about making wainscoting layouts is that you can almost never go wrong. Using batten or simulated panels, you can create rectangular or square shapes. 

They can be extremely lengthy, requiring only a few in a room. Alternatively, they can be short in order to accommodate a greater number of panels. When working around elements such as door openings, you can adjust panel sizes as needed.

No one design rule will ensure that the height and length of panels are perfectly proportioned. Trust your instincts about what appears to be correct.

The Choice is Entirely Yours

Additionally, you are not required to build wainscoting on all walls of a room, as you can opt for a wainscoting accent wall and pull it off with ease.

Wainscoting Accent Walls Can Look Amazing

One of the coolest aspects of wainscoting is that it can be used on a single wall and still look fantastic. For example, if one of your walls will be covered in family photographs, a wainscot will direct the eye to that area.

It’s comparable to how a fireplace mantle entices visitors to admire photographs or artwork, with that wall space being separated from the rest of the room in a welcoming way.

Learn How Install Wainscoting with These DIY Wainscoting Projects

DIY Recessed Panel Wainscoting

DIY Recessed Panel Wainscoting

This particular project will show you how to make wainscoting for a panel that’s used for an entertainment room, but it has quite a large applicability and you can play around with this tutorial and adapt it for your particular needs.

What You’ll Need

  • Paintbrush
  • Roller
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer & nail setter
  • Laser level
  • Nail gun
  • 2-inch nails
  • Miter saw
  • Electric sander
  • Paint
  • Wood filler
  • Paintable caulk
  • 27 x 8′ base cap molding
  • 6 x 1x6x12′ MDF boards

How to Make this DIY Recessed Wainscoting

  1. You’re going to have to cut and install the perimeter boards, as well as the vertical and horizontal boards.
  2. Then cut and install the base molding, sand any uneven seams.
  3. Next, fill whatever holes needed using wood filler or putty, sand the surface afterward to make sure it’s smooth
  4. Be sure to use caulk to fill gaps and edges, and paint everything to give it a beautiful finish.

DIY Wainscoting Made Easy

DIY Wainscoting Made Easy

This particular project will show you a video tutorial that teaches you how to install your own wainscoting, especially since it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find a professional that’s willing to take on smaller jobs. So, if you want a single wainscoting accent wall, this is the tutorial for you.

DIY Wainscoting Step-By-Step Guide

DIY Wainscoting Step-By-Step GuideView in gallery

Another tutorial that we really like will show you how to install your wainscoting in a hallway, but you can always follow the steps even if you want it in another room in the house.

This is more than a tutorial since it also explains important wainscoting trim and general info, including input on the recommended height and house value information after installing wainscoting.

What You’ll Need

  • Paint
  • Primer
  • Caulk & a wet cloth
  • A pencil
  • Nail gun
  • Finishing nails
  • Level
  • Chop saw

One thing you’re going to love about this tutorial is the multitude of pictures that will always let you know whether or not you are on the right path to getting this installed.

You’re going to learn why you should apply the chair rail first, how to properly caulk for wainscoting purposes, and even show you that it’s possible to install wainscoting up the stairs.

Wood Trim with X’s

X-shaped wooden trimView in gallery

When you add a little something special to your wall but don’t want to invest in wood paneling, projects like these will show you how to create a more interesting visual impact with your walls.

This tutorial will teach you how to make an X-shaped wooden trim and make your walls a little less boring.

What You’ll Need

  • Wood putty
  • Table saw
  • Nail gun
  • Compressed cardboard
  • White paint
  • Miter saw
  • Wood trim
  • Dark blue paint
  • Measuring tape
  • Painter’s tape
  • Chalk line
  • Laser leveler

For this project, you’re going to use a laser leveler to determine the height where the trim will be positioned. You’re going to have to measure a lot in order to determine how many Xs will go on the wall. Painter’s tape is essential for creating the Xs.

You’re going to paint over the tape, and here you can get to play with your favorite color. Then, it’s mostly a matter of making the correct cuts for the Xs and installing them.

Top 5 Best Wainscoting Ideas for Your Home

Genuine Peel and Stick Engineered Wood Wall Paneling

Genuine Peel and Stick Engineered Wood Wall PanelingView in gallery

Are you ready to transform your room with a stunning feature or perhaps to make a wainscoting accent wall?  These engineered hardwood wall planks include a peel-and-stick back with industrial-grade adhesive. 

  • easy to install
  • locking edges
  • 20sqft of coverage per set

These boards are quite simple to install, especially since they have interlocking shiplap edges. The design is inspired by the variety of shiplap wall paneling styles popular in commercial and residential locations worldwide.

What you’re actually ordering is a set with 12 pieces of wall panels, which is about 20 square feet in total. You have like 21 different finish options to choose from, including weathered crimson, classic maple, walnut, and this tavern white, which is our favorite.


  • 21 finish options
  • Easy to install
  • Backed by warranty


  • Some have thicker coat paints

Grey Peel and Stick Wall Paneling

Grey Peel and Stick Wall PanelingView in gallery

Another option that’s super easy to install is this one by e-Joy. It also uses the peel-and-stick method, so you don’t really need much help or have to put in additional effort to get these installed.

  • Peel and Stick
  • 4sqft of coverage per box
  • Water-resistant

Unlike the option above, this one is actually delivered as a single-piece panel that measures 28 x 28 inches. You basically get one panel per purchase, which covers about 5.4 square feet per box.

The panels are made from vinyl and are available in three finish options. The panels are water-resistant and soundproof, and can also be installed using nails if you feel more comfortable with this installation method.


  • Multiple installation methods
  • Waterproof construction
  • Can be painted


  • You need a lot of it

MDF Wall Paneling in White Primer

Ashford Molded Classic Wainscot Wall PanelView in gallery

This Charlton Home® wainscoting option is going to add a little special element to the room, focusing on simplicity, but sturdiness. With this kit, you will recipe a 16-piece wainscot, a chair rail that measures 2.75″ H x 96″ W x 0.75″ D, and a baseboard which is 3″ H x 96″ W x 0.75″ D.

  • Comes with everything you need
  • Nail and glue installation
  • Slatted design

The pieces are made from manufactured wood and can easily fit into the hallway, bathroom, or kitchen. It has a molded trim and features a nice slatted design, which some might argue is pretty simple, but we just like to think of it as versatile. To install it, simply use nails and glue.


  • Easy to install
  • Versatile white finish
  • Includes the rail


  • Reports of damage during shipping

Colorado 36″ x 24″ 3D Wall Paneling

Ashford Molded Classic Wainscot Wall PanelView in gallery

Corrugated metal wainscoting is being used in an increasing number of residences and business areas to help break up a contrasting accent wall. If you’re interested in creating a more industrial-style setup, this is probably the right product for you.

  • 6sqft per panel
  • 3 finishes
  • metal look

This wainscoting comes in single sheets that measure 36 x 26 inches, which means you can cover about 6 square feet with a single panel, and you have three finish options to choose from. The rusted option received an accelerated rust treatment, with a spray-applied solution for more even distribution.


  • Indoor and outdoor use
  • Fire-resistant
  • Water-resistant


  • Not sealed, rust comes off

Ashford 24H x 16W x 12D Molded Classic Wainscot Wall Panel

Ashford Molded Classic Wainscot Wall PanelView in gallery

What we’re dealing with here is a polyurethane wall panel that requires a baseboard for installation. Note that this isn’t just for wainscoting purposes, as it can also serve as a frame for a wall sconce, a piece of art, and can even be installed on a door for a fancy visual appeal.

  • Can be used as trim
  • Water-resistant
  • Pre-assembled

This chair rail is designed to act as an accent piece that is easy to install and has water-resistant capabilities. It’s also easy to install and quite versatile in terms of placement.


  • Versatile product
  • Easy to install
  • Already primed


  • Need plenty of these for full wall wainscoting


Why is wainscoting so expensive?

Raised panel wainscoting is the most classic style. It is up to double the price of a beadboard or a flat panel because it is a result of the time-consuming process of panel edge beveling to create an “elevated” appearance.

Is wainscoting outdated?

Wainscoting was initially used for insulation purposes, so it could be considered outdated because there are better ways to insulate your home. However, it is no more outdated than rustic pieces of furniture, so if you love that older room vibe, it’s definitely not outdated.

What is the difference between paneling and wainscoting?

Wainscoting, in a nutshell, is a form of ornamental paneling. Whereas paneling can be installed from ceiling to floor, wainscoting is generally restricted to the bottom part of the wall. Wainscoting is generally finished with some sort of molding at the top to distinguish it from the wall.

The Final Say

We recommend going with the Novogratz Genuine because you can easily calculate the product quantity you need (they have an on-site calculator), there are 21 finish options to choose from, it’s available at a good price, and it’s super easy to install.

If you have more questions about wainscoting, write them below and get help from the community and yours truly. And check out more awesome home improvement tips like our guide to making your ceiling look higher!