Wainscoting has been a popular form of wall coating for more than a hundred years. Essentially, wainscoting is paneling that is used on the lower half of walls inside your house. It can be made of wood, marble, ceramic tile, heavy fabric, or newer materials like wood combinations or plastic. The dictionary definition suggests that wainscoting is any paneling treatment that rests between the baseboard and the chair rail.
The most popular of these, even today, is wood. The most popular of the wood constructions is tongue in groove boards, but any type of decorative panel (even old doors in some cases) could serve this purpose. Originally, wood wainscoting was made of wood wagon siding, which is why it was so popular. The material was around in a plentiful supply, and that is why so many people used it in their homes.
Wainscoting can be of any height, but at its lowest level, wainscots are an extension of the baseboard that runs the length of the room. Most baseboards run up to eight inches up the height of the wall. They are usually one board with a decorative upper edge.
For rooms that need a bit more, though, home builders find it both better and easier to finish the top with a separate piece, which is where wainscoting comes into play. This style was commonly seen in homes built before eighteen forty.
Traditional wainscoting, though, is usually a bit higher. It usually runs anywhere from forty-eight inches to fifty-four inches in height. It is used to protect and decorate the area. This taller style of wainscoting began its popularity in the mid-nineteenth century. This traditional style was usually tongue-and-groove boards running vertically up the wall and nailed in place. It was used to hide wall joints in the past, but now it is simply used for its durability.
There are even higher levels of wainscot. These began to appear in fashion in the dining rooms of the nineteen hundreds. They could run as high as sixty to seventy two inches. The panels were sold as eighteen to twenty-four inch pieces, and they were usually separated by three inch molding. The most popular building material for these at the time was cloth. It was usually burlap, grasscloth, or a heavy linen material. Most were rich colors.
While wainscot history has some interesting points, the future for wainscoting still looks good. People love the inexpensive nature of wainscot. It is possible to supply an entire room of quality wood wainscot for as little as one hundred and fifty dollars. People also love the look of wainscoting. It offers elegance, as many expensive homes use it in the original construction now.
Durability and Decor
Not only does it offer an elegant look, but it also brings an element of the past into play. Because so many homes used to have wainscoting, people identify with it as an older building material. It can, therefore, offer a look of rich history to a new construction home. People also love the durability of wainscoting.
If you have children or pets, walls in rooms that are highly trafficked take a serious beating. In the dining room, the kids hit the wall with their chairs every time they leave the table. In the hallways, kids leave their hand prints on the wall. In the basement, the dog hits the wall with his paws as he’s headed for the door. Wainscoting can offer your wall protection from these kinds of accidents.
It usually cleans up with a damp cloth, and in just a few short minutes, it can look as good as it did the day you installed it. Moreover, in older homes, it can protect your walls from getting damp. Because older construction homes are not subject to building codes the way new construction homes are, they sometimes need extra materials to protect them from environmental problems. Wainscoting can help maintain the plaster on the walls in the dampest of situations, and it can even cover uneven wall surfaces offering a smooth look to room.
Wainscoting has spent more than one hundred years in the popular spotlight, and it looks as if it will continue its fame into the next one hundred years.