The Inexpensive Home Improvement Series: Wainscoting

Sometimes you walk into a dining room or living room and you immediately notice that the room seems rich in detail. Other times you walk into a room and it may be filled with furniture and have some photos or artwork on the walls, but it just doesn’t have that special touch. One element that can make all the difference is something found on the walls – wainscoting.

Wainscoting is the addition of wood or painted panels on the walls to add depth and interest. There are a wide variety of styles from beadboard and flat panels to heavily embellished panels with ornate plasterwork. They are extremely popular because they break up the long, flat expanse of otherwise dull walls and add architectural interest to any room.

Wainscoting America offers dozens of variations on the five most popular styles of wainscoting. Visit their website to order wainscoting for your Ellwood City home.

Historical Beauty

The origins of wainscoting are actually quite practical. In the 1500’s, many homes were damp and cold in the winter, so homeowners would put wood panels over the lower half of the walls to cover the damp plaster. When the wood became rotted, they simply replaced it. Over the centuries, wealthier homeowners began to make the wainscoting a decorative feature. By the 1800’s, wainscot paneling was more decorative than functional, adding elegance and beauty to rooms. During the height of its popularity in European homes, you could find elaborately carved and plastered wainscoting covered in gold leaf and even panels upholstered with satins and brocades.

Today’s Wainscoting

This charming country bathroom features beadboard wainscoting. It's one of the many features of this three bedroom house in Sewickley.
This charming country bathroom features beadboard wainscoting. It’s one of the many attractive features of this three bedroom house in Sewickley.

Today, most wainscot paneling is made of wood, fiberglass or plaster. The most popular style is beadboard, which features narrow grooves about a half inch thick running along the width of the panel. Today beadboard adds country chic to kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms. It’s also one of the easiest to install because each panel can easily be cut to fit and the repetition of the pattern makes it easy to match.

For a more formal living room or dining room, you can install raised panel wainscoting. This has evenly spaced panels with raised or beveled squares on each section. One way to add a splash of color to a room without making it too dark or overpowering is to paint just the inside of each square in a contrasting or richer color to accent the room’s décor.

Flat panel wainscoting also has evenly spaced squares, but they aren’t raised or beveled. Instead, slender slats of wood are placed over the wood panels to form the squares. This style is less expansive and more casual than raised panel styles.

If you’d like to install wainscoting in any of the rooms in your house, check out this easy wainscoting installation tutorial at Lowe’s. You’ll find all the supplies you need to do this at Lowe’s or any local home improvement store such as the Busy Beaver in Ellwood City, PA.

To learn more about the home pictured in this article or other homes available for purchase or rent in Ellwood City and the surrounding area, visit Look At My Homes.


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