The Low Down on Wainscoting

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Wainscoting is any style of wooden paneling that covers the lower half or lower third of an interior wall. It comes in tons of different styles, designs, patterns, and materials, and can be made to suit any home.

This wood paneling is an enduring trend among homeowners who want to give their walls that extra bit of fancy flair. In fact, it’s never really been out of style—its designs just fluctuate with the trends!

What’s So Great About Wainscoting?

Wainscoting is a decorative design element that can dress up even the plainest room, but it actually has much more practical origins. In the 17th century, wainscoting was a durable solution used to insulate rooms, keeping the harsh temperatures outside and the hot air.

These days, walls have insulation inside, so the old-timey purpose of wainscoting has become a bit obsolete. What has stuck, though, is the use of wainscoting as a protective feature. Wooden paneling is much sturdier than sheetrock alone, making it ideal for high-impact areas like kitchens, dining rooms, basements, and kid’s rooms.

Types of Wainscoting

So we know that wainscoting can serve the dual purpose of both fashion and function. Now let’s talk about the different kinds of styles you can use to decorate your very own home! There are five main types of wainscoting: raised panel, flat panel, beadboard panel, board and batten, and overlay. You’ll find loads of different decorative styles out there, but they all fall under one of these categories. Let’s get into it!

Raised Panel

Raised paneling is, by far, the most common type of wainscoting, and it’s easily recognizable thanks to, well, its raised panel! The central panel is framed by molding with a beveled edge. That means the molding is cut at an angle to make the raised and flush pieces of the wainscoting blend together smoothly.

This paneling brings a timeless elegance to any home, and you’ll often see it in Colonial and Queen Anne style décor. Think elegant olden-day manors and sumptuous, traditionally-styled abodes. Raised panel wainscoting brings incredible depth and visual appeal to any space. Raised paneling is most often found in dining and living rooms, but it can work in almost any room in the house.

Flat Panel

Flat-panel wainscoting is effectively the inverse of the raised panel. With the latter, the panel is the part that protrudes from the wall; with a flat panel, the panel is sunken—or recessed—behind the rails. Like the raised style, this type of wainscoting adds depth to a room but is considered sleeker and more modern than its ‘Old World’ counterpart. No beveled edges are used in this style.

Beadboard Panels

This style consists of narrow slats laid side-by-side, linked with its neighbor via an interlocking tongue and groove system. This type of wainscoting is most commonly seen in rustic, farmhouse, and cottage-style homes.

And if you’ve ever watched a home renovation show, you’ve probably seen a house redone with shiplap wainscoting. Not only is it charming, but it’s also versatile and can be installed either horizontally or vertically, depending on your preference. It’s cute, breezy, welcoming—and it’s the perfect home addition for families with small kids!

Board and Batten

Board and batten style wainscoting uses alternating wide boards and narrower strips—aka the ‘battens’—to create an eye-catching visual while covering unsightly seams. As the flat panel style of wainscoting, board and batten are a bold and modern look that makes for a real statement piece.

Overlay Panel

An overlay is a combination of raised and flat panel wainscoting. First, the flat panels are installed. Then, raised, decorative panels are installed over that. This creates a bold, poppy, and dimensional look that is well worth all the effort.

The wonderful thing about wainscoting is that it’s an affordable decor solution that can be made out of almost any material. In days of old, wainscoting was made almost exclusively out of wood, but those days are long gone. Now, you can buy wainscoting pieces and panels made out of oak, vinyl, plastic, laminate, and much more! And if you consider yourself handy, you can probably even put the wainscoting up yourself. All it takes is the right tools, some patience, and a bit of know-how.

But if you’d rather leave that work to the pros, Winthorpe Design & Build is here to help. Bringing wainscoting into your home adds a dimension of elegance, warmth, and style, and we want to create wainscoting that you’ll love. Let us take care of the hard work, so you can sit back and enjoy the result. Connect with us today, and let’s get started.



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