My DIY How To Wainscoting Technique 

Simple and Simply STUNNING too!! Wow Your Guests!

This easy step by step how to wainscoting technique will guide you and help you create truly beautiful, stylish rooms...

Rooms that you'll want to spend more time in, that your friends will want to copy! Heck, that your friends are going to just drool over, lol. That's what mine do. I get so many complements!

This wainscoting technique adds instant casual elegance to any room. I even used it in my bathroom!

You can opt to use a simple how to wainscoting kit which I highly recommend, or if you have the time and like to roll your sleeves up, I'll provide you with the steps that I used (scroll down)...

What Is Wainscoting?

Firstly, let me explain exactly what wainscoting is...

Wainscoting is a broad term generally meaning a wood paneling for walls and ceilings.

It's most often found in cottages to cover damaged walls and ceilings.

It's sometimes referred to as "groove paneling" and "tongue and groove paneling"( aka beadboard).

Wainscoting can also include the more formal application of "raised paneling" and "recessed paneling", where moldings are used to create a detailed look. There is also "board and batten", my personal Fav!

This very traditional living room shows lovely recessed paneled
wainscoting. This can be very pricey depending upon the type of wood used. Mahogany can be super expensive, and there is a lot of detail involved so the labor costs can be high, unless you do it yourself, of course. You're going to love my how-to wainscoting technique that will teach you how to do wainscoting yourself..or you can still do it yourself but with an oh sooo simple wainscoting kit!

For this particular style wainscoting, you may need to become familiar with a miter saw and a nail gun, and use less expensive woods like stain grade plywood and molding to save a bundle.

Or you can use super inexpensive MDF if you opt to paint it like I did for a simple how to wainscoting technique I'm going to show you at the end of this page..

Here's a nice example of recessed paneled walls

paneled living room traditional living room

My How To Wainscoting Technique

I used the easy Board and Batten technique for my master bathroom wainscoting, but I did the faux version and did it the easy way by doing it myself with MDF and some simple cuts and measuring: Using  battens, an apron, a cap, a shelf, and a baseboard over drywall. I painted and sealed it all one color so it looks like real wainscoting.

I used an 4'x8'sheet of MDF(medium density fiberboard)
I'm going to teach you how to do wainscoting this way. You may want to take notes.

My Bathroom Done With A Board And Batten Technique

All wainscoting, whatever style you choose or way you choose to do it, can be painted any color, but white or stained, are the traditional looks.

Let me show the beautiful wainscoting pictures that inspired me... and give you my steps on how to wainscot using the board and batten technique that I used... Scroll down

This Cape Cod inspired bedroom is full of charm don't you think? I love this board and batten technique, same as my master bath. They used two thirds of the wall for the wainscoting. With an application like this larger artwork won't work well. Opt for  smaller pictures resting on the shelf cap, maybe stacked using different heights, or 5x7's, 3 or 5 in a row, hung on the wall horizontally. You can even place accessories on the shelf cap,(not shown here)varying heights.

Beach Style Master traditional bedroom

This is another faux example.This time of recessed paneling.
Very simple to do. Just use 1 x 4's, placed between 1 x 4 baseboards, and aprons (the horizontal piece that runs horizontally above the vertical pieces).

I love that they added the shelf, and how they displayed the artwork.

Also, notice that not all the panels widths are even, yet still look good! Sometimes this is necessary due to placement of electrical outlets and such.

For my how to wainscoting technique, I recommend you center the battens evenly under any window sills first and work out from there. I had to let there be more space on the next spaced batten in order for it to look right(such as in the pic above). You will better understand what I mean once you get into your project. But I thinks it looks better this way.

Corbels make great shelves traditional hall

This is such a nice cottage look with the beadboard running the length of the wall.
This is great to cover up damaged walls.

Linda Banks traditional living room

And again my personal favorite style board and batten wainscoting. It's what I used in my bathroom, my living room, and my bedroom. Isn't it wonderful!

10 Things You'll Need

  1. MDF (medium density fiberboard) It's sooo cheap! I did my bathroom and living room with 2 sheets.
  2. Power Nail Gun
  3. Miter saw or chop saw and table saw *Note: You will need a table saw to cut (rip) the 8 x 10 into the smaller pieces you'll need.
  4. primer
  5. semi-gloss paint
  6. paintable caulk and caulking gun
  7. construction glue
  8. level
  9. measuring tape
  10. sandpaper

Here's what I did:

Measured my walls and decided on the height of the wainscoting and the spacing of the battens, the size of the cap (horizontal top piece) and size of the base board ( horizontal bottom piece or "shoe").

These are my cut measurements:

Cap= 5"

Base= 4"

shelf piece=1.5"(optional)

finish molding 1/4 inch (optional)to finish the front of the shelf piece and also to add decoration to the back of the cap where it joins with the shelf piece.

Battens = 1.5"

Batten spacing= 12" on center( the center of the batten lined up with the 12" spacer line I drew on the wall, may need to make adjustments for plugs and switches. Also I spaced the battens slightly farther apart under a window because it looked better to have them centered, but you don't even notice it.

Batten height= 49"

note* I had The home depot make all my cuts for me. You'll need to provide them with a cutting list and leave it and pick up later. They told me it's easier for them to make that many cuts when the store is closing.


I determined how many feet of MDF I needed for the cap,base, and battens,etc... I Had the pieces cut,

I burrowed my neighbors nail gun (total time saver!, thanks again Alfredo!),

Drew out my plan on the walls with a pencil and level,

I put glue on the pieces and nailed them up,

I sanded any rough areas,

I caulked up the nail holes and all the seams and also outlined every piece with a bead of caulk,

sanded off the roughness of the caulk after it dried,

applied a primer coat,

applied 2 coats of semi-gloss.

Lastly, I painted the upper wall portion a beautiful watery blue. Oh yeah, and I gave the room a crown, see how I saved here too with this little trick...Go to Crown Molding DIY

I get so much pleasure from this little bathroom! It is so pretty, and I'm so proud of myself for saving so much money by doing it myself.

I am so inspired, I'm doing the rest of my house with this DIY wainscoting technique so stay tuned.

So now you know how to do wainscoting. Do it from scratch or purchase a kit, but definitely do it, it's gorgeous!

 I Hope you're inspired!

More DIY Decorating Projects Here

More Wainscoting Ideas Here

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