Creative Wainscot Treatments for Your Home

Creative Wainscoting Treatments for Your Home – The use of wainscoting is seeing a resurgence of popularity in design today. Wainscoting can serve multiple purposes: enhancement of design, drawing the eye to features in the home such as room size, and even covering problem walls in an easy and cost effective manner. Generally the wainscoting is enhanced with a chair rail made of a wood or composite molding, used as a separation between the top and bottom of the wall. Wainscoting is placed on the bottom of the wall and enhanced with an appropriate molding. Wainscoting typically utilizes 3 different materials, depending on the design and the statement the decorator is focusing on. The three materials typically used are wood panels, wallpaper, or paint. We will examine the benefits of each approach.

Wood paneling is often utilized in wainscoting and is quite easy to apply, even for the do-it-yourselfer. A bead-and-board paneling gives the home a cottage or country feels at a reasonable price. Most major home improvement stores carry these panels in solid, unfinished wood, composite board, or a fully finished panel, easily installed. These panels come in 4’x8′ panels and one panel, cut crosswise into 3 pieces yields a perfect height for the wainscoting. so in measuring you will measure the area to be wainscoted and divide the number of feet by 4. Home improvement stores generally will cut the panels across for you; however you will need to be able to make vertical cuts for corners and edges. Before installation, you must remove any baseboard molding, taking care not to break it, so that it can be reinstalled once the wainscot panels are installed. The panels are attached to the existing wall with construction glue and nails, either by hand or with a nail gun. It is easy to go back and fill in the nail holes with a bit of wood filler or spackling. If you choose pre-finished paneling, you are ready to measure and purchase your molding, or chair rail. Smaller rooms benefit from a more simple molding, however wainscoting in a bath might be topped by a 1×4 in order to provide a shelf area.

Remember, molding that is carried around a corner must be cut with a miter saw and box.

If you have chosen a composite, priming and painting will be necessary prior to installing the molding. If solid wood is chosen, it can be stained, varnished or primed and painted. Once the molding is installed, again with glue and nails, you are ready to reinstall the baseboard. Any gaps should be held to a minimum and filled with some type of filler, allowed to dry and then be painted.

Another choice for wainscoting is wallpaper. The bottom portion of the wall can be papered to compliment the color of the top portion of the wall. There is a variety of selections at home improvement and wallpaper stores and outlets, including a type that comes in many finishes that can be painted once installed. This paper is useful for walls that have blemishes or problem areas, as it covers most anything. They even make a paper of this type in a bead-and-board pattern, for the do-it-yourselfer not comfortable with power tools. It is suggested that even pre-pasted paper be pasted before hanging. For wainscoting, a height of approximately 30-32 inches is usually attractive. The easiest way to make a top guide is to measure from the ceiling to the height of the wainscoting in several places along the wall. A long level can insure that the points are level, and a chalk-coated string, held on both ends and “flicked” to mark a chalk line is very easy. When using paper, it is not necessary to remove the baseboard unless you desire. When the paper has dried, the same process is followed for installing the chair rail. We have even seen fabric used for this purpose, by dipping it in a liquid starch and using a squeegee to smooth it to the wall.

The third choice for wainscoting is simply use of contrasting paint, usually of a lighter or darker tint, depending on the effect desired. Faux finishes can also be used on the top or bottom of the wall, as can a plaster effect. Another popular approach involves the use of molding, cut and mitered in squares or rectangles, and attached to the bottom part of the wall to resemble paneled areas. Usually the bottom of the wall below the chair rail is painted in one color so that these moldings blend into the design. Again, following this, the chair rail is installed in the usual manner.

Whichever method of wainscoting you choose, wainscoting serves to help create an atmosphere from casual to elegant, while maintaining cost of a decorating budget.

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