25+ Stylish Wainscoting Ideas: The Ultimate Guide to Wainscoting

Add texture and visual design to your walls with these wainscoting ideas! We have traditional and unique styles to show off!

Looking for more wall ideas? Plywood wall treatments, sharpie wall designs, beautiful wallpapers, and decorative wall panels.

metropolis circles non-traditional wainscoting, Soul Style on Remodelaholic

The Ultimate Guide to Wainscoting:
25+ Stylish Wainscoting Ideas

Wainscoting is a classic way to add texture and interest to the walls of any room and are a beautiful detail to add to your interior design. There are many styles of wainscot.  Deciding what style and height of wainscoting, however, can be as tricky as choosing the color of paint! We’ve rounded up nearly 40 stylish wainscoting ideas that we’ve shown here on Remodelaholic to help you decide what look is best for your home.

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Why Wainscoting?

Wainscoting can be used for many different reasons. Most commonly, wainscoting  is used to add interest and texture, even without adding color, but don’t worry if you want to add color that is easy too!  There are many common questions when it comes to wainscot lets answer some of them now:

Why is it called Wainscot?

We aren’t exactly sure of the origins of the word, but it most likely comes from the German word for “wall-board”.  The wood for wainscot paneling originally came from a specific oak tree known as “wainscoting oak.” even now, with common used materials such as MDF being so different the term “wainscoting” is here to stay.

What types of wainscoting are there?

Literally your imagination is the limit.  Today we are sharing options for breadboard, board and batten, Shiplap, picture-frame style and non traditional ideas.

Where to put wainscoting in house?

There are literally no hard and fast rules about where to use wainscot.  Literally the only limit is you need a wall.   It can used in any room, hallway, staircase, accent wall, or even an outdoor wall if you are nuts about it the space become to busy..  Traditionally it is popular for living rooms and dining spaces specifically, but a boring hall can benefit from the structure and interest of wainscot without having to be busy.

Can wainscoting be painted?

Of course, if you are the homeowner, its up to you!  If you have old wainscot and you want a change, paint it!  The wainscot doesn’t have to stay white or even a traditional wood look, you can definitely add a bold color to any wainscot wall.  If you are afraid to paint the wainscot itself the wall color above the wainscot can be a great place to add a punch of color.

How to paint wainscot?

This question could be a whole blog post on its own, so let me give you just a couple guiding ideas.

  • Prep work is king.  If you have wood paneling wainscot you will need a stain blocker to avoid bleed through.  If this is new wainscot don’t skip caulking crack, patching and sanding for the best finish possible.
  • If you can spray it, thinned out light coats will help to avoid heavy texture and will give it a furniture grade finish.  Be sure to get some experience of using a sprayer on a piece of furniture before testing it on your walls for the first time, to avoid big mistakes.
  • Smooth paint finish is important, if painting by hand, avoid using a nap roller.  A foam roller will be best preferably with a rounded foam end (and not a plastic cap) this foam end will help you roll into the corners of the moldings.
  • Consider watering down your paint slightly when brushing on.  This will give you a little more time to work with the paint before it dries to avoid brush marks.  Get the paint on with a brush then smooth it with a foam roller with minimal paint
  • 3 coats is ALWAYS better than one.  I know that feels counterintuitive, who wants to paint something 3 times?  But heavy coats of paint look sloppy, leave drips, dribbles and ugly texture.  Take your time and when in doubt just add a second or even third coat of paint.

Can wainscot be modern?

Usually when I think of wainscoting I think of traditional wall treatments, however there are modern options.  Thinking of different geometric shapes for example could modernize a wainscot look like these amazing 3d panels or check out these great options as well.   See below for more options, but just know options are endless.

How do you figure out spacing on Wainscoting?

We have a full tutorial on figuring out spacing for board and batten or other picture frame or shadow boxes wainscot check out the link above for specific directions.  And check out our installation tutorial here is you are interested in understanding all the nails, glue, and diy wainscoting details your heart desires.

Lets get this party started with an excellent example of a wainscoted wall, this full paneled wall, shared with us by Decor Chick:

diy paneled wall, Decor Chick on Remodelaholic

Adding a little extra wainscoting can help dress up a standard chair rail and make it an architectural feature:

decorative wall panel wainscoting, My Cottage Charm on Remodelaholicshared by My Cottage Charm

Wainscoting helps enhance the structure and design of the room. Merely by splitting the wall into two sections and giving the eye a line to follow, wainscoting helps the room feel bigger. Molding and wall treatments can also help a tall space feel fitting instead of echoey-large, such as this tall 7-foot wainscoting in this extra-tall 14-foot entryway, shared by Design Dump.

tall wainscoting in a tall entry, Design Dump on Remodelaholic

Wainscoting can also be a wonderful solution to disguising some of your home’s quirks, such as oddly placed utility access points. The Modern Parsonage shared how they hid their plumbing access by dressing it up to match the wainscoting.

hide plumbing access with wainscoting, The Modern Parsonage on Remodelaholic

Taller wainscoting ideas with a ledge on top provides a great place to add décor, especially if you intend to switch it out frequently.

beadboard wainscoting with ledge, Tell'er All About It on Remodelaholic wainscoting ledge, 33 Shades of Green on Remodelaholic

guest room updates by Tell’er All About It  | home tour by 33 Shades of Green

And styles? There are so many different styles of wainscoting!

Beadboard Wainscot

Beadboard is a wonderful wainscot material because it is quick to install and doesn’t require as much of the measuring and math as many of the other styles of wainscoting do. Check out these bead board wainscoting ideas.  And as a bonus, you can often keep your existing baseboard intact and still update the wall (or for an extra nice finish pull of the existing baseboard and reinstall on top of the bead board after installing the panels or boards.)  This baseboard becomes the bottom rail of the wainscoting.

Simple Beautiful Home installed bead board wainscoting in a half bath remodel.

half bath remodel with beadboard wainscoting, Simple Beautiful Home on Remodelaholic

And The Reformed Ranch installed a tall beadboard wainscot in a farmhouse dining room.

industrial farmhouse dining room beadboard wainscoting, The Reformed Ranch on Remodelaholic

You can also add a ledge to beadboard wainscoting like we did in our Logan House bathroom

beadboard wainscoting with ledge, Remodelaholic

or install the beadboard horizontally like we did in the half bath that we added to our Logan House.

half bath remodel with horizontal beadboard wainscoting, Remodelaholic

And if you’re going for a different look, just paint the beadboard black like The DIY Diaries did in their modern powder room:

black beadboard wainscoting, The DIY Diaries on Remodelaholic

Board and Batten Wainscoting

Justin and I have used board and batten in most of our homes. You can alter the height to fit your style and the room, and choose an installation method to fit your budget, time, and skill level.  The main feature of this wainscoting style are the stiles (or vertical wood elements) that help to break up the expanse of a wall.  If it is half height and a top rail to break up the wall and finish of the wainscot perfectly.

Board and batten can be chair-rail height (about 4 feet, typically), like in this flat panel wainscoting tutorial that Small Town Idaho Life shared with us:

inexpensive board and batten wainscot, Small Town Idaho Life on Remodelaholic

 or taller like Superwoman Brittany shared with us in her living room remodel, or like Justin and I installed in our Logan House master bedroom:

living room with tall board and batten wainscoting, Superwoman on Remodelaholic tall board and batten wainscoting, Remodelaholic

You can keep it going full height and cover the entire wall, right up to the ceiling, like we have done in our current house.

(I wrote up detailed spacing and wainscoting installation tutorials for you.)

board and batten wainscoting wall tutorial, Remodelaholic

You can also split up the board and batten style to make a paneled wall with stacked squares like these:

faux board and batten, Little Blue Chairs on Remodelaholic stacked square wainscoting, LA LA Land on Remodelaholic

$50 faux board and batten by Little Blue Chairs | dining room stacked square wainscoting by LA LA Land

 And board and batten is a great wainscoting style for stairs and stair walls… so long as you’re willing to do some angular math!

wainscoting on the stairs and stair wall, Impatiently Praying for Patience on Remodelaholicfoyer wainscoting by Impatiently Praying for Patience

Picture Frame Wainscoting

Picture frame style wainscoting is another popular style, especially in older homes where you need more classic styles to match the architecture.  The particular beauty of this design is the depth and detail of the moldings themselves. See some picture frame wainscoting ideas.

“True” wainscoting is a raised panel solid wood look, like Our Home from Scratch shared of her dining space (with a tutorial!):

raised panel wainscoting, Our Home from Scratch on Remodelaholic

But you can create a faux picture frame wainscot like Southern Lovely shared here

diy wainscoting, Southern Lovely on Remodelaholic

and Involving Color shared here:

faux wainscoting for wood panels, Involving Color on Remodelaholic

Did you know you can even buy kits for creating the picture molding look so if you feel like starting at the lumber store is more than you can do at this moment try this:

Waiscot Kit To Buy From Wayfair

You can also change things up and have two-tone picture frame molding like Little Miss Penny Wenny installed in her master bedroom:

update master bedroom with two-tone wainscoting, Little Miss Penny Wenny on Remodelaholic

Or add a little oomph to the picture frames by using paintable textured wallpaper to look like carved wainscot like Suzy’s Sitcom did:

faux wainscoting using paintable wallpaper, Suzy's Sitcom on Remodelaholic

Or you could follow this great tutorial from The Mustard Ceiling and have a wainscoting that mixes the styles of picture frame with the thicker boards like board and batten:

best most complete wainscoting tutorial ever, The Mustard Ceiling on Remodelaholic

Non-Traditional Wainscoting Ideas

If you’re looking for a wainscoting that will add architectural interest AND oomph, there are plenty of non-traditional and unique wainscot styles that will set your home apart from builder grade. Try one of these:

non-traditional square wainscoting, This Home of Ours on Remodelaholicoffset squares wainscoting (and tutorial) by This Home of Ours  

barn door wainscoting, Traci Monson on Remodelaholicbarn door wainscoting (and full tutorial!) by Traci Monson

metropolis circles non-traditional wainscoting, Soul Style on Remodelaholicmetropolis circles wainscoting using a PVC material by SoulStyle

There are also many great 3d wall panel options for a modern wainscoting here.

striped painted wainscoting, Erin D Photography on Remodelaholicstriped painted accent wainscoting shared by Erin D Photography

painted striped wainscoting, Little Blue Chairs on Remodelaholicstriped painted tall wainscoting shared by Little Blue Chairs

trellis wainscoting, Watch Me Daddy on Remodelaholic

trellis wainscoting by Watch Me Daddy

and one of my favorites

easy plank wall wainscoting, Remodelaholichorizontal plank wall wainscoting by us here at Remodelaholic 🙂 Nowadays people call this shiplap, but we did this before Joanna and Chip made that popular.

Wainscoting for Every Room!

Try it, try it, and you may; try it and you may LOVE IT, I say… (Sorry, apparently I read Green Eggs and Ham too much!)

Try it…

on the stairs and in the hall (by Sawdust Girl)

wainscoting on the stairs and hallway, Sawdust Girl on Remodelaholic

in a reading nook with this cute patriotic color scheme (by Pretty Handy Girl)
tall wainscoting in closet reading nook, Pretty Handy Girl on Remodelaholic

in a powder room (by Sixteen Fourteen)

tall powder room wainscoting, Sixteen Fourteen on Remodelaholic

in the living room (by The Thriftress)
simple picture frame wainscoting, The Thriftress on Remodelaholic

in the entry (by Willow Wisp Cottage)
simple faux picture frame wainscoting, Willow Wisp Cottage on Remodelaholic

in the basement (by Dixie Delights)basement remodel with board and batten wainscoting, Dixie Delights on RemodelaholicSo, what do you say? Have all these wainscoting ideas inspired you to let this Sam-I-Am convince you to love green eggs and ham, er, wainscoting? Or or are you already on board the wainscot train, heading straight to awesome?

For more stylish wall ideas, check out these:

DIY Stamped Wall (with a DIY stencil!)
Creating Beautiful Storage Space Within Bathroom Walls
3-D Wall Panels with Board and Batten
Elegant Paneled Wall Treatment 
Installing Trim: A Beginner’s Guide

Please pin this post for later:

Wainscoting Ideas, Tutorials And Styles From Remodelaholic

Beadboard Wainscoting Styles And Ideas From Remodelaholic

Picture Frame Wainscoting, Board And Batten Wainscoting, Ideas And Tutorials From Remodelaholic

The Ultimate Guide to Wainscoting: 25+ wainscoting ideas and styles | Remodelaholic.com #wainscoting #inspiration #design #walls @Remodelaholic

Originally posted 8.12.2013 // Updated 2.3.2021  // Update 6/6/2022

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35 Comments

  1. I love pretty much ALL of these ideas, and I would like to do something similar in my home. But I don’t know where to stop/start. My home is almost all exposed/open concept on the first floor. If I just wanted this in the dining room (which is 3 walls, with one wall a half open ‘window’ to the family room) I’m not sure if it would look alright since its open to the family room, kitchen and the main hallway. Are there any design tips for how many rooms or spaces in a home should have wainscoting to keep the design consistent?

    1. I actually am laying here looking at my breadboard ceiling right now. It’s actually wainscoting glued and tacked over old plaster.

  2. I LOVE the look of wainscoting and want to put it everywhere on my main floor. Kitchen, dining, living room, powder room. Do you think that will be over doing it?

    1. Kelly, I think that would be too much, but you should just try doing some accent walls first and see if you would want to do more. Right now we just have it on our two walls. I did a room in my dads house and we just chose to do the window wall and it turned out great with just one wall.

  3. Stylish indeed! These are some authentic examples of wainscoting I’ve come across. Really great designs and worthwhile to incorporate. Thanks for sharing this post with us!

  4. Can this be done in a full bath or will the humidity ruin the wood? Are there alternative products that are meant for such a purpose? What about within the tub area itself?

    1. Mark which wainscoting in particular are you talking about. It would probably be best to use a ceramic type product right next to a tub, but in a powder room, it should be fine.

  5. We just finished wainscoting in our baby’s nursery! We’re amateur DIY-ers and we found it was actually easier than expected. It’s a pretty incredible transformation! Cheers, Anne

  6. I think these ideas are amazing! Wainscoting can give a room a whole different feel. It can be modern as well as antique looking! Great stuff 🙂

  7. Cassidy, I love this post. I am going to do your full wall board and batten in my basement. It is exactly what I wanted. It’s nice to have a picture reference. How far apart are you boards? It looks as though they are only about 12 inches. Is this correct or are they farther? I love your blog and tell all my friends about it. Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. I love several wainscoting styles. So far I’ve done board and batten in my back hall. I will be doing the half bath off that hall using beadboard and will also do half wall between kitchen and dining room. I find it allows me to use darker shades on the upper walls and not feel closed in.

  9. I want to know if I can use wainscoting in a bathroom. Not around the tub but on the two opposite walls. Will the humidity hurt. What do you recommend?? The total boards will be 4×8 sheets,,,behind the toilet and vanity and also the opposite wall. Thanks

    1. As long as everything is primed and painted well (both sides if you are using something like MDF, I’d say) you should be fine! We’ve done wainscoting in our bathrooms and never had a problem.

  10. I live in a very old house. I’m thinking of putting stained wainscoting on the walls of my den. But I can only put it on 3 walls as the fourth has a wall of built ins painted a medium grayish color. This fourth wall houses a TV, bookcases and a fireplace. Hubby doesn’t want more painted wood, he likes the grain hence the possible design dilemma. Do you have any suggestions on how to make this work?

    1. A friend of mine painted the bottom third of her walls in 4 in white and navy stripes, with a 4 inch white border on top, and then the remaining wall navy. It looked gorgeous. That may be an option if your DH doesn’t want any more painted wood in that room. Perhaps go with a dark gray instead of navy?

  11. I asked steve to add wainscoting in all the main areas of our house plus some bathrooms. This post was wonderful to give me some ideas of what I would like to do on my wainscouting projects. =)

  12. I love the circular design of the wainscoting in the cover photo! Where could I find that style to purchase?

  13. I Need HELP! What can I do if I have regular wall paneling on top and then the 3 feet on bottom for the wainscot. The thing vertical wood looks horribl, and today i ripped it out! Now I’m stuck! Help!

  14. Hi, this examples are painted with white. I want to use more darker color I mean smoked color or light grey what do you think?

    I have to say this tricks are really good they are so useful.

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