The Answers You Need to the Top 10 Questions About Wainscoting

The Answers You Need to the Top 10 Questions About Wainscoting

Even if you feel unfamiliar with the term “wainscoting,” it is likely that you have seen this type of wood paneling in a home or office building. For centuries, builders and homeowners have installed wainscoting to protect their walls from chair or table damage, scuff marks from footwear, and other damaging elements.

Wainscoting’s popularity hasn’t faded, thanks to its aesthetic appeal. Today, it can be added as a decorative piece and doesn’t have to be functional to be a beautiful addition to any room. If you are looking for more information about this type of wall paneling or wondering how you can incorporate it into your home, you’ve come to the right place.

At The Moulding Company, we know a thing or two about wainscoting and other types of moulding for your home. After you’ve finished reading this blog and feel excited about a home makeover, we also have several modern and traditional wainscot paneling options for you to browse!



1. What is Wainscoting?

Wainscoting is a decorative and functional system of wood panels, chair railing (framing), and moulding. Today’s wainscot paneling that we are familiar with originated in the 18th century when wainscot paneling was no longer installed as floor-to-ceiling paneling and began covering just the lower half of walls. Wainscot paneling was initially functional rather than decorative—adding interior protection and insulation from damp and cold stone walls. Now, homeowners may choose to install it for visual appeal alone.

2. Why is it Called Wainscoting?

While the debate remains as to the exact origin of the term “wainscoting,” it most likely derives from the German word for “wall-board.” The wood for wainscot paneling originally came from a specific oak tree known as “wainscoting oak.” Even after the type of wood commonly used for wainscot paneling changed, the term “wainscoting” stuck with the wall panels.

3. What is the Purpose of Wainscot Paneling?

A room with dark gray walls and wainscoting

Wainscot paneling still serves multiple purposes: wall protection and added home décor. Today, wainscot paneling is a classic design choice that adds richness to your home. You can use wainscot paneling to add a subtle texture or go bold with a pop of color or intricate design. When incorporated into home décor, these wall coverings can transform a dull room while also adding functional protection to your walls at the same time.

4. Is Wainscoting Paneling Expensive?

Wainscot paneling costs depend on materials chosen, square footage needed, custom design elements, and installation. Traditional wainscoting materials included sturdy, non-decorative hardwoods, but today these wall panels come in various materials and styles, including medium density fiberboard.

Stop in one of our San Francisco Bay area showrooms to see how traditional wainscoting or raised panel wainscoting can enhance any room in your home! We offer material, paint, and stain options to match any home’s interior design elements.

5. What are the Different Types of Wainscot Paneling?

Some popular types of wainscot paneling are tongue and groove beadboard, picture frame-style, raised panel, and personalized or customized designs. While there are many wainscoting styles to choose from, you may find that only a few makes sense for your home and taste.

Reach out to the experts here at The Moulding Company and let us walk you through the design process. We will make sure you get the best style for your home!



6. Are Wainscoting and Beadboard the Same Thing?

While beadboard is a style of panel used in wainscoting, it is also a common design element in many other home décor projects—such as upgrading your bland basement décor or adding overall elegance to your home. So, while beadboard may be an element of your wainscoting, you should not use the two terms interchangeably.

7. Can Wainscot Paneling be Painted?

Black walls with vintage style wainscoting from floor to ceiling. You can paint or stain your wainscot paneling to match your home’s décor or to have it stand out as an accent piece. However, the material you choose for your wainscoting may determine how to paint or stain it.

It is best to consult an expert before painting any existing wainscoting in your home or installing new wainscoting. An expert can help you determine the right paint or stain you can use or show you available options for your new wainscoting.

If you choose to paint your wainscoting without consulting an expert, you risk damaging the wood or the finish. This tip applies to most types of moulding, especially if it already has paint on it. Some paints are incompatible with certain finishes and will leave your moulding looking patchy or unappealing if you don’t choose compatible paint.

8. Can Wainscot Paneling be Sanded?

Yes, you can sand wainscoting, and sometimes homeowners will choose to do this to remove an old paint job or stain to replace it with a new one. However, just like with the answer above, make sure you consult a professional who will assess your in-home wainscoting to make sure it can withstand such an upgrade. In some cases, sanding may not be the best choice.

9. How Do You Install Wainscoting?

Since there are several styles of wainscot paneling, the time and skill involved to install each differs between types. If you are handy, installing wainscoting may be a project you can tackle. However, if you’re looking to have a professional installation completed and a guarantee of proper workmanship, reach out to us at The Moulding Company. Our knowledgeable staff can answer all your questions!



10. Can Wainscoting Get Wet?

Wainscot paneling can get wet, but depending on the type of material and paint you select, the amount of moisture your wainscoting can handle will vary. In-home wainscot panels generally deal with splashes or spills, and that type of moisture will not do any significant damage.

However, wainscoting is not often suitable in wet locations like bathrooms, especially if you DIY install it. If you plan to use wainscoting in your bathroom, invest in a professional installation because they will seal your wall panels for such a humid area properly.

Additionally, don’t allow spills or splashes to pool around your wainscoting framework or moulding, as that could damage the materials or cause warping. Clean up any moisture as quickly as possible to keep your wainscoting and other moulding in their best shape.

Visit One of Our Showrooms to See Your Wainscoting Options

Wainscoting is a beautiful addition to any home and can be a visually striking aspect of your space that your guests comment on and remember forever. If you are ready to enhance a room in your house with wainscoting, we have got you covered with our extensive catalog of wainscot paneling-related products. Visit one of our showroom locations in San Francisco, CA, to see our wainscot paneling options and speak with our expert team about getting started with your next project.