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Installing Beaded-Board Wainscoting

Project Overview

Installing Beaded-Board Wainscotting

Wainscoting provides an intimate, traditional feeling in dens, bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as a somewhat formal look for dining rooms. Installation is typically 32 to 36 inches off the floor, or roughly one-third of the room height. You can also create real drama in a dining room, as shown in this project, by reversing that proportion. Whichever proportion you choose, adjust the top edge to avoid running directly into windowsills or other trim in the room. Select wainscoting that is thinner than door and window casings to avoid building up the thickness of existing door and window trim.

8 Steps

  1. Pre-Finish All of the Materials
  2. Draw a Line for Top Edge of Wainscoting
  3. Locate the Studs
  4. Cut the Wainscoting
  5. Glue the Wainscoting
  1. Measure, Cut and Install the Boards
  2. Out-of-Plum Corners
  3. Install the Cap Rail and Baseboard
Show all steps »
Pre-Finish All of the Materials
Pre-Finish All of the Materials

Step 1

Pre-Finish All of the Materials

Pre-finish all the materials before you begin the installation. Remove the baseboard and outlet covers. If you are reusing the baseboard, carefully pry it from the wall. You may prefer to use new baseboards with a groove to hold the lower ends of the wainscoting boards. Install outlet box extension rings that allow you to bring the outlet to the wainscoting surface.

Draw a Line for Top Edge of Wainscotting

Step 2

Draw a Line for Top Edge of Wainscoting

Draw a line for the top edge of the wainscoting. Determine the height for the wainscoting, measure up from the floor, and with a level, extend a line around the room.

Locate the Studs

Step 3

Locate the Studs

Locate the studs. The top and the bottom of the wainscoting are held in place by a cap rail and a baseboard nailed into the studs. Locate the studs with a nail or stud finder and mark them both at floor level and just above the level line. (Don't drive nails near electrical outlets or switches.)

Cut the Wainscotting

Step 4

Cut the Wainscoting

Cut the wainscoting to length. Begin at either end of the wall, and measure to determine the length of the wainscott boards. If you have a rabbeted baseboard, measure from the bottom of the rabbet to the line marking the top of the wainscoting. If the baseboard will be attached after the wainscoting is installed, measure between the line and the floor. Don't cut everything all at once; the length of the boards may change as you move along because of uneven or unlevel floors.

Glue the Wainscotting

Step 5

Glue the Wainscoting

Glue the wainscoting in place. Butt the grooved end of a board into a corner and nail it in place. Run a wavy line of construction adhesive along the back of several boards. Spread the glue with a notched trowel as you slip the boards into place. Slide the tongues in the grooves, leaving a 1/16-inch space between the visible edges to allow for expansion in humid weather. Align the top edges with the level line; check the edge for plumb with a level. Press the boards with the heels of your hands to help bond the boards with the wall.

Measure, Cut and Install the Boards

Step 6

Measure, Cut and Install the Boards

Once you install the boards you've cut to length, measure for the next two or three boards, and cut and install them. Whenever a board is over a stud, nail it in place. Hide the nail in the groove along the bead or drive it through the tongue if possible. Cut or plane as much of the last board as needed to make it fit. Install it by slipping it down from above.

Out-of-Plum Corners

Step 7

Out-of-Plum Corners

Out-of-plumb corners. Make adjustments several boards away. Measure between the last board and the corner at both the top and bottom of the wainscoting; divide the difference by the number of boards remaining to be installed. If the difference is within 1/16 inch, install the remaining boards slightly out of plumb so the last one will be flush with the adjoining wall. If the gap is more than 1/16 inch, scribe the last board to fit.

Install the Cap Rail and Baseboard
Install the Cap Rail and Baseboard

Step 8

Install the Cap Rail and Baseboard

Install the cap rail and baseboard. Nail the cap rail in place with #6 or #8 finishing nails. Mitre inside and outside corners. If the rail is complex, cope inside corners. If the baseboards go on top of the beaded boards, nail them in place using #8 finishing nails. Countersink and fill all nail holes. If you paint the wainscoting, seal any gaps with paintable caulk.

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Project Details

Skill Level: Intermediate

Time: 5 hours

Before you start, read this »

Due to differing conditions, tools, and individual skills, The Home Depot® assumes no responsibility for any damages, injuries suffered, or losses incurred as a result of attempting to replicate any of the home improvement ideas portrayed in this website Before beginning any home improvement project, review it thoroughly to ensure you or your contractor can finish the project and if any doubts or questions remain, consult local experts or authorities. Because codes and regulations vary greatly, you always should check with authorities to ensure that your project complies with all applicable local codes and regulations. Always read and observe all of the safety precautions provided by any tool or equipment manufacturer, and follow all accepted safety procedures.


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