How Do You Install Wainscoting?


Quick Answer

To install wainscoting, measure your room's perimeter, and divide the perimeter by the width of the wainscoting panels you have chosen. Take out any existing base or chair rail moulding, set a level line, and install the paneling around the room.

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Full Answer

  1. Prepare the room for wainscoting

    Measure the interior perimeter of the room, and divide that number by the width of your wainscoting panels to determine the number of panels needed. Take out any existing chair rail or base moulding, but keep it intact if you plan to use it again. Take off any outlet covers that are less than 3 feet off the floor. Create a level line 32 1/2 inches off the floor, as wainscoting is 32 inches high and you want to avoid the floor. Make a light mark at the position of each wall stud above the level line.

  2. Begin installing the wainscoting

    Start in the easiest corner of the room (areas with no doors or outlets in the way of a panel). Put construction adhesive on the back of a full panel, and put it into place. Make the top even with the level line and one side 1/16 inch from the adjacent wall. Use paneling nails to put that panel into place.

  3. Prepare and install other panels

    Measure downward from the level line to the bottom and top edges of the hole for the outlet, and mark appropriate lines on the back of the wainscoting panel. Measure the distance between the side edges of the hole, and subtract 1/16 inch for the expansion gap. Add vertical lines to the back of the panel, and cut the rectangle out with a jigsaw before installing the panel. Leave a 1/16-inch gap between each panel, and make the top of each panel flush with the level line you drew. Cut shorter panels if necessary for the other corners of the room, subtracting 1/8 inch from the remaining gap to allow for expansion. Put the moulding back on, if desired, and replace the outlet covers once all of the wainscoting panels are in place.

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