How to Properly Install Wainscoting

Wainscoting can give a room a very elegant and sophisticated or clean look. It also helps to keep your walls from any damage they may get from furniture bumping into them. This is especially true if the wall is directly behind a mobile chair, such as a dining or desk chair.

Measure the area you wish to wainscot and write it down to take with you to the supply store.

Now you need to gather your supplies. You will need the following:

Safety Goggles

Circular Saw

Coping Saw

Miter box

Block Plane


Chalk Line and chalk

Caulk Gun

Caulk and wood putty

Paint primer

Semi-gloss paint



Finish Nails

Nail Set

Wood glue

Wainscot adhesive

Tape Measure

Beaded Board

Wainscot molding (cap) with appropriate width to fit over your boards

Molded baseboard

If you have an outlet or electric switch in place to be covered, purchase an extender box

Make sure wall is plumb and level. Fix accordingly if needed.

The first step now is to measure your wainscot. Make a spot on the wall where the top of your wainscot is going to reach. Make sure you are standing at the far end of the wall you are applying the product to when you do this. Now go to the far end of the wall and mark where the top of the wainscot is going to reach. Snap a chalk line to mark.

Put on your safety goggles and cut your boards to length, three or four at a time.

Use your block plane to get the correct fit for the boards on the ends if they are not an exact fit in width as the others. Remember if it is too large it can be fixed rather easily, if it is too small for caulk to fill it, it will be much harder to make the necessary adjustments, so please plan accordingly and measure carefully.

When you get to your last corner, where the wainscoting will meet, mark on the back where you will need to make your cut. Allow the piece to slightly extend beyond where you need it to fit for a tight fit at the joint or seam. You can use finish nails if absolutely necessary.

Measure where electrical outlets or switches are and cut out accurately with your coping saw. Apply extender box in places where these will be reinstalled so they can be properly accessed after wainscoting has been applied.

Apply wainscot adhesive to the back of a corner board and press into place with the tongue going into your corner. Now apply the other corner piece with the groove going into the corner.

Apply wainscot adhesive to the remaining boards, one board at a time, carefully pressing each board in place as you go, making sure the grooves are joining together properly. Apply wood glue in the corner joint if necessary.

When you have finished with all of your boards, measure and miter accordingly where your cap molding is going to meet your corners. Trim the notch piece off for a proper fit and butt against your wall. Use your coping saw to make the best cut.

Now you want to cut your baseboard to fit using your circular saw. Make sure to have your safety goggles on any time you are using any type of saw to prevent pieces of wood from going into your eyes. Apply boards with finish nails, making sure that it is flat to the surface when complete.

Use your nail set to put any nails below the surface. Caulk where necessary at any gaps. Use your wood putty to fill nail holes. Sand flat any pieces that are jutting out or not smooth.

Apply primer and allow to dry. If you are applying wainscoting to an area that will get a lot of moisture, such as in the bathroom, you should prime and paint both sides and allow to dry, prior to starting the project.

Apply paint and allow to dry.

If you prefer to paint first, instead of last, as I have here, you can do that as well and then touch up the paint where necessary to complete the job.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five × = 35