Wall panel wainscoting is a decorative paneling made up of several different pieces and it’s designed to protect the lower portion of your walls and give them elegance. In general, you have the base molding (also known as the baseboard), then the large panels, the upper rail, the sub molding and finally the top molding above everything.
Not all wainscoting makes use of all of these parts. In some cases, a simple baseboard, panel and top molding are all you will see. So, it means that you can try your hand at something simple first and then move up to more complex kinds later.
How to Install Wall Panel Wainscoting
Step one in the process is to put the baseboard in place; it is the most important part as it will ensure that everything else lines up properly. So, first, clean away the area on the floor in front of the wall.
Next, check the floor to see if it is level. If it is not, you will want to run your baseboard level and then keep it as close to parallel with the floor as possible. This can be difficult and you may elect to bring in a carpenter to help.
Once you have the baseboard level, mark it and cut it, provided the piece you have is longer than the wall you are working on, of course. Next, nail it in place. You can use a hammer and just finish nails, but a nail gun is far more effective, and faster. It is best to put two nails – one near the top and one near the bottom – every two to three feet along the baseboard.
With the baseboard in place, you can move on to the panels. They will rest on top of the baseboard, and generally connect together with a simple tongue and groove edging.
First, apply some adhesive to the back of one panel, and then start in the corner. Be sure the piece is snug against the wall, and sitting evenly on the baseboard. It is best to secure the panel with a couple of brads; they will hold it in place until the glue sets. Then, just move on to the next panel, and the next, over the entire length of the baseboard.
After the panels are in place, you can also add what is known as a shoe molding, some call it a quarter round. It goes along the bottom of the baseboard, right at the floor, and it will cover up any gaps between the level baseboard and the floor. A brad, inserted every few feet, is enough to hold it in place.
Now comes the top molding. It will sit on the ridge of the panels, and in some cases the panels are designed so that the molding slides into a slot. The one area to be careful of is the corner; there are special pieces that fit together on each wall, thus tying them together. Once you have slid the pieces into place, just secure them with brads. After that, the crown cap goes along the top of the molding, and is also held by brads.
Then use some caulk to fill up any gaps at the corners. Once the caulk dries, it can be painted to match the panels. Finally, if you have electrical outlets along the wall, use a jigsaw to cut openings in the panels as needed. Follow these simple steps, and you can have wall panel wainscoting in your home.