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Installing Beaded-Board Wainscoting

Installing Beaded Board Wainscoting
Wainscoting is a partial paneling used on the lower part of a wall. For centuries it served as protection for the plaster and added a decorative touch as well. It is still used today for the intimate, traditional feeling it gives to any room in a home. The most common version, tongue-and-groove beaded board, has a ridge or bead in the edges between its boards. Installation is typically 32 to 36-inches off the floor, or roughly one-third of the room height. When putting up the wainscoting, you should adjust the top edge to avoid running directly into windowsills or other trim in the room.


• Select wainscoting that is thinner than door and window casings to avoid building up the thickness of existing 
  door and window trim.
• Pre-finish all materials before you begin the installation.



• Don’t drive nails near electrical outlets or switches.
• When prying away baseboards, place a piece of wood between the wall and the pry bar to distribute the force
  and avoid damaging the wall.



Consider using plywood wainscoting sheeting to help you save on installation time.
• If you plan on finishing the look of the wainscoting with a baseboard, you can save money by reusing the 
  existing baseboard, if possible.






Step 1: Remove the baseboard and outlet covers

The baseboard and outlet covers have to be removed If you are reusing the baseboard, carefully pry it from the wall. You may prefer to use new baseboards with a groove to hold the lower ends of the wainscoting boards. Install outlet box extension rings that allow you to bring the outlet to the wainscoting surface.

Step 2: Draw a line for the top edge of the wainscoting

Draw a line for the top edge of the wainscoting Extend a line around the room with a level.

Step 3: Locate the studs

Locate the studs The top and the bottom of the wainscoting are held in place by a cap rail and a baseboard nailed into the studs. Locate the stud with a nail or stud finder and mark them both at floor level and just above the level line.

Step 4: Cut the wainscoting to length

Cut the wainscoting to length Begin at either end of the wall and measure to determine the length of the wainscot boards. If you have a rabbeted baseboard, measure from the bottom of the rabbet to the line marking the top of the wainscoting. If the baseboard will be attached after the wainscoting is installed, measure between the line and the floor. Don't cut everything all at once; the length of the boards may change as you move along because of uneven or unlevel floors.

Step 5: Glue the wainscoting in place

Glue the wainscoting in place Butt the grooved end of a board into a corner and nail it in place. Run a wavy line of construction adhesive along the back of several boards. Spread the glue with a notched trowel as you slip the boards into place. Slide the tongues in the grooves, leaving a 1/16-inch space between the visible edges to allow for expansion in humid weather.  Align the top edges with the level line. Check the edge for plum with a level. Press the boards with the heels of your hands to help bond the boards with the wall.

Step 6: Once you install the boards you've cut to length, measure for the next two or three boards, and cut and install them

Once you install the boards you've cut to length, measure for the next two or three boards Whenever a board is over a stud, nail it in place. Hide the nail in the groove along the bead, or drive it through the tongue if possible. Cut or plane as much of the last board as needed to make it fit. Install it by slipping it down from above.

Step 7

For out-of-plumb corners, make adjustments several boards away For out-of-plumb corners, make adjustments several boards away. Measure between the last board and the corner at both the top and bottom of the wainscoting. Then divide the difference by the number of boards remaining to be installed. If the difference is within 1/16 inch, install the remaining boards slightly out of plumb so the last one will be flush with the adjoining wall. If the gap is more than 1/16 inch, scribe the last board to fit.

Step 8: Install the cap rail and baseboard

Install the cap rail and baseboard Nail the cap rail in place with #6 or #8 finishing nails. Miter inside and outside corners. If the rail is complex, cope inside corners. If the baseboards go on top of the beaded boards, nail them in place using #8 finishing nails. Countersink and fill all nail holes.  If you paint the wainscoting, seal any gaps with paintable caulk.