"I love adding wainscoting to a home," says This Old House
general contractor Tom Silva. "I install it in pantries, hallways or anywhere walls could get damaged," he says. "It protects the wall and looks great."
Wainscoting has protected walls since the 1600s, when it consisted of wood panels framed by stiles and rails. With the advent of industrial milling machines in the 1850s, however, less-formal beadboard wainscoting became available. So called because of regularly spaced bumps along the edge of each piece, beadboard has hardly changed in appearance or installation: The tongue-and-groove strips are snugged together and nailed in place, one after the other.
For full step-by-step instructions, shopping list, and tools list, see How to Install Beadboard Wainscoting