Prefab Paneled Wainscot
On-site measurements and off-site production yield a traditional look at a more affordable price.
Wainscot adds a striking level of sophistication, depth, and visual interest to a space. While wainscot is a catch-all term for a variety of wall treatments, the job shown here centers around the timeless painted frame and flat panel reminiscent of the Shaker style. It’s a classic look that makes a room come to life.
However, this style of wainscot is both labor and material intensive and its price is a bit surprising to most homeowners. My system of on-site measurement and off-site production balances traditional methods, quality workmanship, speed, and efficiency, allowing me to be as competitive as possible while still offering a superior product.
I remove the existing drywall or plaster and install the wainscot directly onto the studs. This puts the assembly behind the existing door and window casing. This detail is key to the overall look, replicating the style of an older house that was originally built with wainscot. My crew makes the frames from 3⁄4-in. poplar and uses 1⁄2-in. shop-grade maple or birch plywood for the panels. The simplicity of the design means all the components can be made on a tablesaw.
In most spaces, wainscot looks best at about one-third of the height of the wall. However, two-thirds of the wall height is often chosen for large rooms, or for dining rooms and other spaces where intimacy is desired. In either case, I use those proportions as a starting point and fine-tune the wainscot height based on the customer’s preference and existing obstacles (I will stay below light switches, for example).
For more details, including photos for each step in the creation and installation process, click View PDF below.