Wainscoting Bathroom Guide: An Explanation and Installation Instructions

Lead Image
  • 4-8 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 150-350
What You'll Need
Chair rail or crown molding
Measuring tape
Pry bar or chisel
Construction glue or paneling nails
Circular saw

If you are looking for inexpensive ways to update the value and beauty of your home, follow this wainscoting bathroom guide and you will be pleasantly surprised.

What Is Wainscoting?

Wainscoting is a type of wood paneling that can be used throughout a home to update and add style to the décor. It comes in different types and styles, so educate yourself before purchasing. The great thing about decorating with wainscoting is that it is relatively easy to install and is inexpensive. Wainscoting comes in panels of 4x8-feet sheets and is used to decorate the bottom three feet of the wall.


There are 2 basic types of wainscoting. There's pre-finish or ready-to-finish, and among those 2 types, there are several different styles. The most popular style to decorate a bathroom is the flat panel, such as beadboard. Beadboard is a narrow and flat panel. The other styles, some of which are raised or grooved, go well in other parts of a home, such as a formal dining area or bedroom.

The beadboard, or flat panel, for your bathroom is most commonly found in white and looks terrific with a contrasting color painted on the wall above it.

Installation Instructions


The first thing you will need to do will be to choose and purchase the style of wainscoting, molding, and baseboard that you want in your bathroom. Be sure to measure the walls accurately and buy slightly over that amount.

Acclimate Wainscoting

Wainscoting is a wood product, so it may need to sit in your home for a day or 2 before installation. This is simply to allow for any adjustments the wood needs to make for temperature and humidity change. It may expand or contract and you want that to happen before you apply it to your wall.

Remove The Old

In the meantime, you can remove all the outlet and switch covers as well as use your pry bar to remove all the old moldings and baseboards in order to prepare for the installation of the new.


Using your tape measure and level, mark the top of the line where the wainscoting will lay. Remember it won’t matter if there are slight gaps at the bottom because the baseboard will cover it. Most homes have slight variations in the floor. The important thing is that the top is even.


Now you can begin to install the panels to the wall. It’s a matter of personal preference whether you use carpenter’s glue or panel nails. Install 1 panel at a time until walls are covered as preferred. You will need to use your circular saw to adjust pieces for shape around outlets and whatever else.

The Finishing Touches

You are now ready to install the chair rail to the top of the wainscoting and the baseboards to the bottom. You can also do any painting that you desire before reattaching the outlet and switch covers.