It’s ‘Wainscot’ not ‘Wainscoat’… and How To Install It


Our bathroom got a makeover over the past few weeks thanks to the heroic painting efforts of misses weekndr and my own do-it-yourself inspiration.

We installed wainscoting in our bathroom and used the opportunity to choose a new paint color, one that “complements our skin tones” as the wife notes, and lightens up the place. Before I get into it, let me ask: is wainscoting the most controversially mispronounced word in the home improvement dictionary? While it does technically coat the walls, it’s not pronounced that way! Take a listen if you don’t believe me.

wainscot-4Why Use Wainscot?
The wainscoting solved a few problems for us. First, there was a rotted area around the trim where the wall meets the bathtub shower insert, which needed to be ripped out and replaced. Second, I’m not so good with drywall seams, especially when patching a small section of a painted wall, so instead of sweating over the details, I covered up my drywall patch with 1/8-in. thick masonite beadboard, purchased at Lowes as a 4×8 sheet.

wainscot-5How to install it
The first step after the drywall is complete is to attach square baseboard trim to the wall. I used 4-in.-wide maple trim. Next,  cut the beadboard panels into strips (I cut the panels in thirds making each 32-in. tall) and adhere the panels to the wall with liquid nails. A few shots from the pneumatic nailer will hold them in place as the liquid nails dries.

To conceal any gaps that might appear between the baseboard trim and beadboard due to inconsistencies in the plumb and level of the floor or wall, attach a decorative quarter-round trim over that corner joint. This also adds some additional flair to the baseboard trim.

Finally, I nailed a molded chair rail along the top edge. I butted the trim right up against the beadboard and sealed the joint with silicon puddy. You can also overlap the trim if you need to conceal major gaps along the joint top (as seen in photo) or go one step further and cut a rabbet along the edge of the chair rail that hangs over the beadboard.

crown complete

wainscot-2You don’t have to be extremely precise with the miter joints and transitions. As the old saying goes, ‘without puddy, paint, and glue, what would a poor carpenter do?” With that advice in mind, fill all the nail holes, seams, and edges with a latex or silicon caulking and sand smooth. Then apply a coat of primer and a few coats of top coat paint, and Voila!


10 thoughts on “It’s ‘Wainscot’ not ‘Wainscoat’… and How To Install It

  1. Pingback: Weeknd Project: Low-Budget Kitchen Renovation « welcome to

    • Sorry, no photos right now. House is rented… All of the trim butts up against the shower insert. The Masonite panels do too. Then I trimmed that seam with a 1/8 in. Quarter round and sealed with silicon caulk.

  2. I temp put some finish nails in wainscoting while glue dried. When i pulled them out the masonite has scars. I tried dimpling them in but no work well. Thinking of sanding out depth a little then filling. Is there a better way? Lots of extra work.

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