How to install wainscoting panels

How to install wainscoting like a professional

Learning how to install wainscoting is simple. Our guide walks you through the process and the materials you need. Add a bit of timeless beauty to any room of your house!

How to do wainscoting: The rules on color and height

Wainscoting was invented in the early days before homes had insulation. It originally served as a way to keep moisture out of the walls. In today’s homes, wainscoting is purely decorative. While it doesn’t serve a practical purpose, it’s a beautiful upgrade to any room.

Traditionally, wainscoting is white, but it comes in a variety of colors and materials. The most important thing when choosing a color, is to make sure it matches the trim in the room.

Historically wainscoting should not extend over 1/3 of the room height, stopping at the chair rail. In recent years, designers are breaking rules and installing wainscoting panels that extend the length of the wall. When choosing your favorite style of wainscoting, keep in mind that light colors and shorter wainscoting will make a room look bigger. While darker colors and longer wainscoting will make a standard size room look smaller.

How to install wainscoting: Step-by step

After you’ve decided on the style of wainscoting, measured your space, and purchased materials, you’re ready to begin. Here’s how to do wainscoting:

  1. Measure and mark the walls where you want to install the wainscoting. Consider door frames, baseboards, chair rails, and electrical outlets as you map out the plan. 
  2. Cut the wainscoting, and pre-fit parts to make sure everything lines up correctly.
  3. Clean and dry all surfaces before applying adhesive. 
  4. Apply adhesive in vertically beads on the perimeter of the panel. Do not apply all around the panel, always stay with the vertical adhesive beads. The beads should be approximately 2’’ from the edge, and vertically every 6’’. 
  5. Flip the board over and fix along the pre-marked lines. 
  6. Repeat the process until all are in place.
  7. Attach baseboards and chair rails to the top and bottom of the wainscoting.

Before you put up wainscoting, it’s a good idea to paint or stain it. This will allow you to reach all the edges and corners easily and leave you with less mess.

How to build wainscoting with the right glue

Wainscoting can be created with a variety of materials like tile, wood, plastics, particle board, and more. For an adhesive that fits a multitude of surfaces, reach for Loctite PL 505 Paneling and Trim Adhesive. Because it is a waterbased adhesive, one of the surfaces needs to be porous, e.g. wood or drywall panels. Its gap filling properties make it a good match for uneven walls and you can also use it to install wainscoting over drywall. It has a 25-minute repositioning time allowing for precise alignment when building your wainscoting.