Terms of the Trade: What is Beadboard?

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True beadboard is the traditional material used to construct wainscoting along the bottom portion of walls in bathrooms, kitchens, dining rooms, or any room of the house. Beadboard gains its name from the fact that when the pieces are fastened together, they create a bead between them.


Beadboard is comprised of long slats of wood, usually 2 1/2 inches wide with a tongue on one side and a groove on the other. For this reason, they are also called tongue and groove slats. They are positioned together along their long edge. The tongue on one slat fits into the groove in the next. Where they come together they form a bead, hence the name beadboard.

Beadboard is the material originally used to make wainscoting. When fastened together, it creates a lovely effect of parallel vertical slats. There is such a thing nowadays as imitation beadboard. This basically consists of 4 x 8-foot sheets of vertically patterned paneling, usually no thicker than 5/16 inches. When glued to a wall, it resembles a series of tongue and groove slats, but it is not a

proper beadboard.