How to Install Faux Wainscoting on Walls
By: Danny Lipford
Watch this video to find out how to get the look of wainscoting by mitering stock base cap molding, then applying it to the wall with construction adhesive.
Faux Wainscoting Materials List
Faux wainscoting panels for an average size room costs about $80. Materials required include:
- Base cap molding
- Construction adhesive
- Finishing nails
- Wood glue
- Painter’s putty
Installing Faux Wainscoting
Here’s how to go about adding faux wainscoting to the walls in your room:
- Measure: Determine the height and length of each section of wall. Subtract 9” from the height and cut the molding to length, so there will be a 4½” gap between the baseboard, chair rail, and walls.
- Cut Molding: Make 45° angle miter cuts the each end of the molding and cut the pieces to the length needed.
- Layout Mitered Frames: Layout the four mitered pieces for each frame, and glue and nail the corners together as you would a picture frame. Predrill the holes in the molding to prevent splitting.
- Paint Molding: Apply primer and two coats of paint to the molding before installing it.
- Attach Frames to Wall: Use construction adhesive to attach the frames to the wall, using equal length scraps of wood between the floor and molding to align the frames. Apply nails in the wall studs if needed to hold the molding firmly in place.
- Finishing Touches: Set nails below the surface, and fill any holes with spackling. Touch up filled nail holes or imperfections with paint.
Watch this video to find out more.
- Tips for Cutting Molding (article)
- Elegant Extras: Molding for Your Home (article)
- Choosing Molding for Your Home (article)
A popular look for many homes is to install a chair rail molding painted the same color as the trim, and paint the wall below the chair rail a contrasting color to the wall paint above the molding. If you have this in your home, here’s a way to add even more to the rich look by creating a faux wainscoting panel at a fraction of the cost.
Begin by sectioning off the walls in the room. The sections can be the area between doors and windows. For larger spans, divide them into spaces to match other sections in the room as closely as possible.
Next, add the perimeter measurements of each section as though you were measuring the four sides of a rectangle. Your perimeter should be the line above the baseboard, below the chair rail and the height between the two moldings. Add 10% to the sum total of your measurements and round up to the nearest foot. This is the amount of linear feet of base cap molding you want to pick up at the store.
Measure the height and width of each section and subtract nine from each. This will give you the four sides of the faux panel and provide a 4½” border around the finished base cap molding. Before cutting the base cap, it’s a good idea to prime and paint it ahead of time. This way, once installed, all you have to do is touch up the paint as needed.
With measurements in hand and using a power miter saw, cut four pieces of molding for each section – two vertical pieces and two horizontal. The vertical pieces for every section should be identical, since the height of your sections should be the same. Cut each one at a 45-degree angle, so when placed together, they form a rectangular box inside each section.
Attach the four pieces of the rectangle together by predrilling a pilot hole in each corner and nailing with a finish nail. It’s also a good idea to keep the joints together by applying a thin layer of quality wood glue to the angles prior to nailing them together.
To keep the molding at the proper height, cut a few scraps so when the molding rectangles sit on top, they are precisely 4½” from the top of the baseboard. Instead of nailing the molding to the wall, use a high quality, heavy-duty construction adhesive. Occasionally, if the wall has a little bow, you may need a nail or two to cinch the molding in place.
Fill any nail holes with painter’s putty and touch up the paint, and your faux wainscoting is complete.