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Published: Thursday, 7/14/2005

Wainscoting Installation The Easy Way

For those who want an easy way to decorate their walls without wallpaper or paint, wainscoting is the way to go. Sometimes called beadboard paneling, the treatment consists of installing wood panels topped with moulding over the lower portion of a wall.

Wainscoting can be as casual or as elaborate as you'd like. Simple styles add a cozy, cottage charm to rooms, and more decorative, formal styles can add drama to dining and living rooms. Wainscoting can also be an inexpensive and simple way to cover problem walls. Install it in the basement over cement foundation walls or anywhere walls pose a problem.


Do-it-yourself kits, available at home improvement centers, make installing wainscot panels easier than ever. Tongue-and-groove designs allow the panels to fit together effortlessly and enable the entire installation to be completed over a weekend. Here are some basic steps to follow:

1. Most kits come with a baseboard, which acts as an anchor for the wainscot panels. It is important to install the baseboard evenly across the wall with a level and a careful hand. Use finishing nails and a hammer or an air-pressured nail gun.

2. Install the panels by resting them on the baseboard. Each panel should slip and lock into the next. The panels should have adhesive on the back to adhere them to the wall. You can use a few brad nails (small nails with a small head that can blend into projects) for extra security.

3. Cover the seam between the baseboard and the bottom of the panels with a thin molding.

4. Install the finishing molding at the top of the panels. Nail into place.

5. Use wood putty to cover any seams where moldings meet each other. Sand to ensure smooth edges.

6. Enjoy the look of your wainscoting!

Tip: If you're using an unfinished product, stain all components prior to installation to reduce the chance of stain dripping on walls or carpeting.

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