How to Prepare to Install Wainscoting

Lead Image
  • 48-50 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 1,000-1,200
What You'll Need
Tape measure
Pry bar

When you install wainscoting, there are a number of different variables that you are going to need to take into consideration. Before you actually get started putting up the wainscoting, there are several steps that you will need to take. Here are the basics of how to prepare to install wainscoting.

Step 1 - Measure the Walls

Before you can start installing or before you can purchase your wainscoting, you are going to have to get detailed measurements of the walls. Take your tape measure and measure the length of the walls in the room that you plan on installing wainscoting in. Wainscoting typically comes in two sizes. You can get 32 inch wainscoting or you can get 36 inch wainscoting. Once you have the linear footage of the room, you can simply multiply that value by 2.66 for the 32 inch or multiply it by 3 if you are going to use the 36 inch wainscoting. The number that you get from this calculation is going to tell you how many square feet of wainscoting that you are going to need to purchase.

Step 2 - Diagram

Before you start with this project, you are going to need to create a detailed diagram of the job. Start out by drawing the walls of the room and labeled them with the appropriate dimensions. Once you have done this, you can also draw the wainscoting onto the walls. Try to make the diagram as realistic as possible so that you can refer to it throughout the process.

Step 3 - Acclimate

Once you have purchased the wainscoting, it is important that you get it into the room that you are going to install in as soon as possible. Since wood wainscoting is a natural product, you are going to need to let it acclimate to the temperature and the humidity in the room before you put it up on the wall. In most cases, you will want to let it sit in the room for least 24 hours and sometimes as long as 48 hours just to be safe. By doing this, you will be able to avoid any problems with expansion and contraction once you have the panels up on the wall.

Step 4 - Remove Baseboards

You are going to be attaching the wainscoting directly onto the wall. Because of this, you are going to have to make sure that you remove the baseboards from the wall first. You can do this by getting a pry bar and using it to carefully pull off the baseboards.

Step 5 - Mark the Wall

Before you can start installing the wainscoting onto the wall, you need to create some way to guide your installation. This means that you are going to need to put a line across the wall where you expect the top of the wainscoting to be. Use your tape measure to get the appropriate height and then make a mark on the wall. You are then going to want to use a straight edge so that you can make a straight line across the surface of the wall.