Monday, February 7

Living Room Wainscoting

I finally put together a post about installing wainscoting in the living room.  I saw all these lovely rooms with beautiful moulding in magazines and online and I thought it would look perfect in the new living room.  I was thinking we could install it in one weekend and maybe paint the next and have it all done before the holidays. My time underestimating ability struck again!  It took us about 4 weekends to finish.  With a mobile toddler around things just took longer.  Before we had kids when we would do a project we would work each night after work during the week and stay up late working on the weekends but we just don't have time for that now. I know there are faster/easier ways to install wainscoting (i.e. skipping the panel board) but I wanted a real moulding installation with smooth walls for the living room.  Here is a step by step installation

Step one is to decide what kind of wainscoting you want.  Then we laid out on a piece of paper how we wanted it to look.  This room has all sorts of 'issues' windows, 45 degree walls, and interior window openings.  This took us longer that I thought. 

Supplies you are going to need:

Panel board - You can get yours cut at HD or Lowes.  We have a table saw so we cut ours at home.
4" wide vertical boards and 6" wide horizontal boards - Usually in 8' or 12' lengths.
Liquid Nails and glue gun
Nails with air compressor and air nail gun
Caulk and wood filler
Stud finder
Paint, brush, roller, and painters tape

After you take down any existing baseboard the first step is to put up the panel board.  After we had cut ours to height (36") we put liquid nails on the back and then put up the board.  We nailed at the top and bottom of the board at each stud.

We also cut out for outlets using a Dremel saw.  If you need two boards for one wall make sure you make the two boards meet where a vertical piece will be so it hides the connecting boards.

Once the panel board is up you can start putting up the horizontal top and bottom pieces.  Nail the bottom piece around the room at each stud. You will have to cut 45 degree angle cuts for the connecting corner pieces. When you put up the top piece, make sure you use a level to insure the horizontal piece is the same height all around.  Nail at each stud.

Then start the vertical pieces.  You want to measure out the length of each wall and divide by the number of panels you want.  That number will tell you how wide the panels are.  Measure from one side and mark the width of the panels across the wall.  Then nail the vertical pieces.  You want to make sure that generally the panels are the same size on each wall.

We used a two piece cap on the top for the chair rail.  We put up the chair rail moulding flush to the top of the top horizontal piece.  Then we used a 1 1/2" by 1/4" cap to cover the top.  You can see that we skipped the installation of corner round to frame out the each picture frame opening.  That would have taken more time and also I wanted a more modern look so we decided to skip it.

The last and least fun but most important part is caulking and wood filling.  If you don't take the time to fill holes and smooth out all connecting boards all your hard work will look not so great once you paint.  You want to make sure you fill all the showing nail holes with wood filler and caulk all of the joints.  Then sand to a smooth finish.  Make sure you remove all of the dust before painting.

I painted the moulding in a semigloss white that matched the rest of my trim in the house.

Lots of work but worth it.   It has totally transformed the living room.  I love it in there.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial!

I am linking to

Tatertots and Jello's - Weekend Wrap Up
Cottage Instincts - Make it for Monday
I Heart Naptime's - Sundae Scoop
DIY Showoff's - Project Parade
Skip to my Lou's - Made by You Monday
Dittle Dattle's - Amaze Me Monday
Craft-O-Maniac's - Craft-O-Maniac Monday
Hope Studios - Tutorial Tuesday
All T hingz Related's - Anything Related
All Things Heart and Home's - All Things Inspired
Elements Interior's - Wassup Wednesday
Paisley Passion's - Thrilling Thursdays


  1. That looks amazing! Thanks for sharing - I'm bringing my laptop over to show my husband this very instant - I'm dying to do this! Love the trim you chose for the chair adds such a pretty detail.

  2. this looks great. love the detailing on the trim. gorgeous!

  3. Looks awesome! Thanks for sharing the tutorial. We plan on doing something like this with our dining room :)

    Happy Monday!

  4. Wow! That looks fabulous!
    Love the blue and white contrast as well!

  5. Beautiful!

    Question - did you just use your existing baseboards? Or did you replace those as well? I couldn't tell from the pics.

  6. Wonderful tutorial!! Your walls look gorgeous!! I love the detailed cap moulding you used! :)

  7. Gorgeous job! Love the detail on the molding. I'm inspired to try this somewhere in my house.

    Giveaway at Milk & Cookie Party! Check us out!

  8. I have board envy!!! This is so on my list of things to do, now you made me move it to the top! So beautiful, professional and upscale. Love it.

  9. Love, love, love this! Hoping to do something similar in my dining room, and we have textured wall, so prepping it with a panel board will be a must!

  10. I just found your blog through the CRAFT blog, so glad I did. I've been wanting to do this in our dining room and living room for awhile now. Thanks for sharing your how-to! I am your latest follower.

  11. Very well done! Thanks for the tutorial.

    I'm a first time visitor from Thrifty Decor Chick's party. It's great to find your blog.


  12. Wow! That turned out really nice. You did a great job!

  13. Thanks for the tutorial! We're planning on doing board and batten in our basement this summer and this was really helpful. It looks great too :)

  14. Beautiful! It changes the room so much! Visiting from Dittle Dattle.

  15. Jennifer - We installed new base we didn't keep our existing base. If you have really thick base you might be able to keep yours.

    Workiing Mom - Thanks but I have to give most of the credit to hubby. He did 90% of the install and I did the caulking/filling/painting.

  16. Hi!

    Stopping by for the first time and say what a great place you have here! I have perused several of your posts and enjoyed each one!

    Fantastic job on the wainscoting ~ your home is lovely!
    Kindly, Lorraine

  17. Beautiful and elegant!

    Sue @ Beach Bungalow

  18. It looks great! And a great tutorial- I'm bookmarking for one day... maybe in our basement?

  19. Looks great!!! I have been wanting to do this in my entryway. You did a great tutorial! Thanks for the inspiration and for linking up and linking back to Thrilling Thursday @ Paisley Passions.

    ~Lori @ Paisley Passions

  20. We did this exact same style wainscoting a few years ago and it made such a huge difference. Yours turned out beautifully. I'm a new follower.

  21. Thank you so much for sharing! I love this! I featured it on a few of my favorite tutorials for the week:
    Cute blog!

  22. Thanks for linking up to Thrilling Thursday @ Paisley Passions. I am going to feature this on Thrilling Thursday tomorrow. Feel free to stop by and grab an "I Thrilled" featured button off my sidebar if you would like :)

    ~Lori @ Paisley Passions

  23. What a great tutorial -- thanks! I saw you featured on Paisley Passions and I'm now a new follower. :-)

  24. What is the name of the blue paint that you used? I love it!!

  25. Jewels - The paint color is Benjamin Moore - Catalina Blue. I love it too!

  26. I was just going to do the picture frame style wainscoting until i found this blog. Looks fantastic. I just finished mine. The filling and caulking took longer than i thought, but i didn't want to rush it. I also put my baseboard back on over the top of the bottom piece.

  27. Thanks for all the info....we are in the process of putting up this style wainscoting....having a little trouble with the cap....Is your cap one piece of moulding or a combination of mouldings?....did you paint all of the wainscoting in semi-gloss? what color white did you use?.....thanks again for sharing...just love it!!


  28. The cap piece is two pieces. You install the chair rail flush with the top of the panel board and then we covered the top with a 1/4" by 1 1/2" horizontal trim piece. It will need to be however long you need it to be to run from the wall to cover the gap between the panel board and chair rail trim. The entire wainscotting was painted in semi gloss. I don't recall the paint color off hand, it was a white builder paint from Kwal.

  29. What type of wood did you use for the vertical and horizonal boards? Went looking at HD and Lowes and not sure what kind of wood to buy. Thanks :)

  30. So you were able to paint the panel boards? I looked at them at Lowes and they have a High Gloss finish and I read they can't be painted. Also, what kind of wood was used for the vertical and horizontal boards?

    1. It depends on the panel boards you use. Their "FashionWall 1/8-in x 4-ft x 8-ft Brown/Unfinished Hardboard Wall Panel" item #15483 is very paintable.

  31. Beadboard was also a regular component in site-made cabinetwork and joinery, where the beadboard was used to make panels in doors or cabinets.

  32. Ty for this tutorial. Most b&b walls show just the vertical boards and the top trim along with the baseboard. However, my husband and I sold our custom home and bought a manufactured home on a HUD sale. Its a larger house on more property than we had and we were able to pay cash for it. So im really appreciative but wow, what a difference. The absolute worst is the walls with the vinyl "wallpaper" finish and to add insult to injury those strips to hide the drywall seams. Uggh. I just finished tiling the kitchen backsplash and there were challenges due to the uneven walls. Lots of blogs on how to tape the can be done and one does improve with practice but with a full time job, etc i dont want to finish this house 20 yrs from now. So ty for showing how to do it with panel board. My b&b will be from floor to ceiling but what a nice idea. Love it!