Interior Design – Wainscoting; to trim or not to trim.

Many times we are in a space that is void of any type of character or architectural flair. Oftentimes, it may seem to be a costly endeavor to add such details. One way to add interest is to use architectural moldings or in this case; wainscoting. This is a relatively easy and cost effective way to add flair and/or interest to any room. It can be as simple as adding trim molding and then paint the middle section or to add additional panels as well.

But first what exactly is wainscoting? It’s the paneling that is added to the lower part of the wall. The three main types are beadboard, plywood panels or decorative panels, which you can find on any door.

The average height is 30” to 36” high, but can really be a personal preference. You might have seen in a few homes that are fairly formal, the wainscoting can actually be about ¾ up the wall. But for our purposes today, we’ll use the average height.

1. First remove all baseboards and faceplates. Use a utility knife to loosen and then a pry bar to remove baseboards. Pay special attention to not harm the drywall when removing or you might need to replace.
2. Determine the height. Measure from the floor up to the desired height. Also measure the width of the wall to have the correct amount of panels needed. You will need to add plywood panels or beadboard at this stage. Use a stud finder to attach panels to the wall.
3. Once all is installed and you are satisfied, you may then add the baseboards and the chair rail to the top of your wainscoting material. Paint to match.

If you don’t want to add the beadboard, etc. to the wall, you can simply add the chair rail molding and paint the wall above the baseboard and below the chair rails. Or you can also add moldings in between for of a 3-D look. Paint all the same color to achieve a uniform look. If you’d like to be a bit daring, use more than one color for depth, interest and pizzazz.


  1. I would like to put beadboard in my bathroom but, I don’t have a baseboard that can be removed because in place of that I have not only a tiled floor but, also tile has been used up against the wall where a regular wooden baseboard would be. Can I just place the beadboard up against the wall yet sitting ever so gently on top of the tiled baseboard? or do the tiles need to be removed first and beadboard put up second and the tiles put back in place after?

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