How to Install Wainscoting How to Install Wainscoting

What You'll Need
Wainscot Paneling
Baseboard
Corner Round
Chair Rail
Protective Eye Glasses
Miter or circular saw
Chalk Line
Stud Finder
Measuring Tape
Compressor Nail Gun

Wainscoting is a great way to dress up the walls in your home. Traditionally, this has been a high price way to do so, which involved expensive wood and expensive carpenters! However, there are ways to keep the cost down. One of them, is by installing the wainscoting yourself. Ordinary tools will get the job done, and panels are available finished. Natural oak is the high end product of wainscoting but faux, MDF and bead board can all produce a very attractive finish.

Step 1 - Buying Panels

To work out how many panels you need for the room, measure the perimeter, then divide that by the width of the wainscot panels. If that works out to be an odd number, buy an extra panel. Wainscoting is normally supplied in 4 ft by 8 ft sheets. This is a timber product, so it will expand and contract depending on humidity levels and heat. Because of this, it should be left in the house to acclimatize prior to installing. 

Step 2 - Preparing the Room

All the walls should be cleared of fittings, switch plates and any other hardware. Move furniture out of the way into the center of the room, and cover it. You will need space to work. Take off all the baseboards and any existing moldings. Using a measuring tape, stamp a chalk line 42 ½ inches up all around the perimeter of the room. Wainscoting is usually 45 inches high, including the base board and chair rail. Floors are seldom level, so going up this high will ensure the top of the wainscoting is. The base board will cover any discrepancies at the bottom, and the chair rail should take the overall height to around 45 inches. Use a stud finder to locate and mark where they are. You need this information later on, when you need to attach the base boards and the chair rail.

Step 3 - Installation of Panels

Cut all the panels to size, which should be around 42 inches. The first panel should be 1/16 inch away from the corner. The top of the panel should always be exact with the chalk line. Attach the panels using a compressor nail gun. Always wear protective eye glasses when using this tool. It is possible to use panel nails and a hammer. However, every nail will have to be filled afterward. Panel glue is another option. If it is necessary to work around power outlets, turn the main switch off, before marking up the panel

Step 4 - Baseboard and Chair Rail

When you install the new baseboards, use a scarp joint to conceal the seams. Nail the baseboard into the studs. Corner rounds can also be placed between the floor and the baseboard, to create that extra finished look. Finally, attach the chair rail, nailing it into the studs.

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