Where to use it
Elegant armor for your walls, wainscoting is particularly well suited to rooms that take a lot of wear and tear

1. Entries
In mudrooms, where boots, backpacks, and wet umbrellas can damage walls, beadboard makes a good choice because there are fewer prominent edges to dent and ding. The walls in more formal foyers are often clad in paneled wainscoting.

2. Stairs and hallways
The walls of these narrow passages benefit from wainscoting's scuff and mark protection. The horizontal rails and the cap generally follow the pitch of the stair; the stiles or beadboard remain vertical.

3. Eating areas
In dining rooms, tall wainscoting topped with a grooved plate rail displays fine china and serving pieces. For more casual kitchens, wainscoting capped at chair height with a prominent top rail safeguards walls from being marred when diners push back from the table.

4. Family rooms and dens
Adding wainscoting to areas where kids—and pets—congregate can have a calming effect, the architectural equivalent of a shhh. Rec rooms benefit too, with a cap rail that's wide enough to perch a drink, Ping-Pong paddles, or pool-cue chalk.

5. Baths
A traditional alternative to pricey tiled walls, wainscoting made from warp-resistant wood, specially treated MDF, or solid surfacing helps protect the drywall or plaster underneath from water damage. It also has a warming effect in this room, where cold porcelain fixtures, ceramic floors, and tub enclosures can predominate.

6. Kids' rooms
Children probably won't give two hoots about it, but parents will appreciate the way wainscoting looks and how easily it cleans up after being used as a canvas for finger paints and crayons.

Pro Advice: Lynn Hopkins, Architect, lexington, Mass. says, "Use paneled wainscot in rooms and entryways where you can stand back and appreciate it. Beadboard works better in close quarters—hallways, mudrooms, and utility areas."
Ask TOH users about Wainscoting

Contribute to This Story Below

    More in Molding & Carpentry