Different types of wainscoting patterns include raised panel, flat panel, overlay panel and embossed metal panel varieties. Some designs use a combination of bead-board, thin slats of wood used in Victorian kitchens and bathrooms, and wainscot panels. Wainscoting is a wall treatment that runs from the floor to mid-way up the wall, used both for decoration and to protect the wall from damage.
The most traditional wainscoting style is the raised panel. Each panel has a beveled edge, making the piece look three-dimensional. Cap and cave moldings on the top, two side pieces called stiles, and a bottom rail give the raised panel style a finished look.
The flat-panel style has clean lines popular in mission-style homes. Each panel has flat, symmetrical squares, with thinner slats in between. A chair rail sticks out over the cap rail, stiles frame the sides and the bottom features a baseboard.
An overlay wainscoting panel can go over a flat panel or on its own. These are pre-formed, often in plastic, and come in various shapes and sizes. If applied directly to a wall, a chair rail and base molding completes the look.
The embossed metal panels, which are usually stamped tin with different-colored metal coatings, are similar to the overlays. Mounting them on a plywood substrate before installation minimizes dents. The designs can be quite elaborate, similar to those seen on vintage ceilings.