10 Types of Wainscoting to Add a Bit of Charm to Your Home

What Type of Wainscoting Would Suit Your Home?
living room with wainscoting

One way to protect the walls in your home and add a distinctive extension of your taste is to install wainscoting.

The first thing to look at is the style of the home. Contemporary to colonial or anything in between, there is a design that would be a good fit with your existing décor style.

The basics of installing wainscoting are fairly similar from one style to another. With a good miter or circular saw and assorted hand tools, the average do-it-yourselfer can add style and charm to any home.

The following are examples of wainscoting that might work well in your home. Simply look through and see what inspires you!

Image source: houzz

1. Beadboard
hallway with beadboard wainscoting

Beadboard wainscoting is made up of tongue and groove panels that are put together one-by-one, each nailed to the wall. Trim is then added to the baseboard, and a top cap is put on the bead board to finish it off.

Don't be intimidated by the intricate appearance of this style; it is actually a fairly simple DIY project to install your own beadboard wainscoting. Plus, your local hardware store will likely have a kit that includes each piece needed.

Image source: Elite Trimworks

2. Raised Panel
sitting room with full-wall wainscoting

Raised panel wainscoting is one of the oldest and most traditional types of wall coverings. It’s built by using beveled panels that are installed with flat boards to create the look of raised panels along the wall. A top cap is added along with baseboard trim. 

Installing raised panel wainscoting is well within the scope of a DIYer. You can create by scratch or with a kit, whichever you prefer.

Image source: AM Dolce Vita

3. Board and Batten
bedroom with board and batten wainscoting

While this style is simple, it adds beauty and depth to any wall it is applied onto. It can be installed in square or rectangular patterns at full or half-wall height. The difference between this style and other wainscoting styles is that board and batten doesn't include any back paneling; it simply uses the existing drywall and installed boards.

Board and batten paneling is easily installed by using a 1/4-inch back panel and installing pine boards to create a frame approximately 18 inches apart to have a recessed look in the wainscoting. The wood used to frame each panel is approximate 3 inches wide and 3/8 inch thick. Baseboards are used at the bottom to produce a finished look.

Image source: Life on Virginia Street

4. Picture Frame
wall with picture frame wainscoting

Picture frame wainscoting is similar to the board and batten type of wall covering, as it does not need additional paneling.

If you've got some old picture frames lying around, simply match the size and style, and then adhere them to the wall in a pattern. 

Otherwise, you'll want to create the same look. Determine the size of the picture molding frames, the number of frames that you would like, and the distance that will separate them. Build the picture frames on your work bench and install them onto the 1/4-inch panel using glue and finishing nails. 

Once you're done, simply paint the entire area to match and install a trim and baseboard. 

Image source: Decor Chick!

5. Barn Door
seating area with barn door wainscoting

Barn door wainscoting uses either a 1/4-inch backing board or tongue and groove (like beadboard.

In either case, you'll create this style using 3-inch wood pieces to frame the sides, making side-by-side boxes. To get the barn door look, go from top left to bottom right with the 3-inch pine boards, and then do the same going from top right to bottom left, cutting and sizing the pine as needed to form an "X" shape. These "barn doors’ can all be attached with finishing nails and glue. 

Image source: Remodelaholic

6. Two-tone
master bedroom with two-tone wainscoting

Two-tone wainscoting adds a distinctive look to any décor. The style of wainscoting is flexible depending on personal taste and the look you wants to achieve. 

A popular two-tone style is to use the picture frame wainscoting. If the two-tone look is wanted prior to construction, painting is made much easier before assembling all pieces on the wall. Then finish by using white for the picture molding and finishing trim. If painting an already completed wainscoting, use a good painter's tape to help keep all lines straight from one color to another.

Image source: Remodelaholic

7. Carved
carved wainscoting

This is probably be the most elegant form of wainscoting that can be found, though it is rare to come by. You can still find some decorative wainscoting that has been carved by hand as it was constructed, but mainly in much older homes .

In modern construction, this method of hand carving is almost cost prohibitive. To achieve the same look as the hand carved, the addition of different types of molding added to the wainscoting can give the appearance of carvings. Also, decorative panels can be used inside of the picture frame molding for a more elegant look. Some use textured wallpaper and paint over it to give a more uniform look.

Image source: Antique French Living

8. Off-set Square
bedroom with off-set square wainscoting

Off-set square wainscoting is more of a contemporary design using various methods. The backing board panels would be very similar to most other wainscoting, with top cap and base board trim leaning more toward a contemporary style.

The design for the wainscoting can be smaller squares made from wood, either installed squarely or diamond-shaped, placed on the backing board. The squares can be installed straight up and down or diagonally, as long as a pattern is followed. Your only limitation is your imagination.

Image source: Remodelaholic

9. Metropolis Circles
living room with metropolis circle wainscoting

Metropolis circles include a backing board, a top cap, and baseboard trim. The design for this wainscoting consists of multiple circles cut from wood. The pattern of circles is repeated approximately every 24 inches.

This is a very complex design, but with a jigsaw and a lot of time (and effort), this look can be accomplished. 

Image source: Soul Style

10. Shoulder Height
seating area with shoulder height wainscoting

Shoulder height wainscoting is not a design, but rather it is an option for other designs. Traditional wainscoting is usually 32 inches off of the floor. In this case, it would be installed 64 inches tall.

About any design of wainscoting can be used for shoulder height. In some cases, such as with picture molding style, a longer frame could be used on the bottom portion, and a frame a 1/3 or 1/2 the size put on top. However, beadboard, flat-paneled, board and batten, and raised-paneled are commonly seen at this height.

Installation is the same as the traditional wainscoting.

Image source: Newport Coastal Interior Design