How to Install Simple Wainscoting

Adding decorative moulding to a Plain Jane wall will instantly add character to any room. There are so many different types of moulding and wainscoting options so let’s just start with the easiest and the least expensive.

It’s easy and inexpensive because you’re simply making eight 45 degrees cuts of moulding per box and it will cost, depending on the molding, approximately $5 per box. If your room already has a chair rail, less work..less  money! If not, there will also be the cost of the chair rail.

Materials
Wood Moulding (of your choice)
Miter Saw
Cordless 18 Gauge Brad Nailer plus 18-Volt Battery
18 Gauge, 1-1/4-Inch Brad Nails
Level
Measuring Tape
Pencil
Caulk and Caulking Gun
Wood Filler
Paint and paint brush

The before wall…

How to Install Simple Wainscoting

First, install a chair rail on the wall. For a standard 8 foot ceiling, place the chair railing 32-35 inches from the floor. Cut chair rail using a miter saw to the length of your wall (if the wall is longer than the 8 foot railing piece you will have to use multiple strips fill the gaps with wood putty and smooth with sand paper). Secure railing with a nail in the left corner. Use a level to adjust the right side of the railing until it becomes level. Secure with nails. If the wall does not include a corner, the chair rail is a straight cut and installation is simple.

How to Install Simple Wainscoting

If it does include a corner, lay the chair rail flat on the miter saw and adjust the bevel angle to 45 degrees. On an inside corner the back of the moulding (chair rail) is longer than the front of the moulding, and on an outside corner the front of the moulding is longer than the back of the moulding.

How to Install Simple Wainscoting

 

Next, determine the size of your picture frames “boxes”. A good rule of thumb is to have the same distance between the chair railing and the top of the box and as the distance between the baseboard and the bottom of the box. We decided on a 5 inch space on the top and bottom. This will then determine the length of your side pieces of the “box”.

Wall height (under chair rail) 30 inches – 5 inches – 5 inches = 20 inch side piece

Next, determine the distance you want between each box and the edge of your walls. We wanted 3 boxes on this wall. The wall was 96 inches long. Therefore, we decided to have each “box” measure 24 inches in length with 6 inches between each box and each wall edge.

Now it’s time to make the “boxes” using a miter saw. It is strongly recommend that you know how to operate a miter saw. It is not difficult but safety is a concern. Have someone who has experience show you how to operate the saw or watch videos on your exact model.

Adjust the miter saw by holding the knob and lever in the front of the saw and swiveling it until you reach your desired miter angle. In this case, adjust to the 45 degree angle mark on the left side of center. Tighten the knob to lock the saw. The fat/thick part of the wood moulding will be the outer part of your frame. Cut moulding so the fat part becomes the tip of your corner. Then measure from the tip of the wood to the required length (20 inches or 24 inches) depending on the piece. Make a mark, swivel the wood piece around to the other side and make the same 45 degree cut. Or you can also swivel the saw to the 45 degree mark on the right of center side instead of flipping the wood around.

How to Install Simple Wainscoting

Line the top and bottom pieces up to make sure they are exactly the same length. Do the same with the two side pieces.

How to Install Simple Wainscoting

Now you have the 4 sides of your box.

How to Install Simple Wainscoting

Measure 5 inches down from the chair rail and 6 inches over from the wall. Mark with a pencil. Nail in the left corner of the top piece. Use a level to adjust the right side until top piece is straight. Nail in top right corner. Place the left side piece at the top left corner of the top piece to form a 90 degree angle. Secure the top, left side piece with a nail. Use a level to adjust the left side until it is straight. Secure with a nail in the bottom corner. Repeat steps for the right side piece.

How to Install Simple Wainscoting

Finish by securing the bottom piece to form a square and/or rectangle box.

How to Install Simple Wainscoting

Fill nail holes and corner seams with wood filler. Quickly wipe off excess before it dries.

Caulk along the inside and outside of the frame. Wet your finger in a small bowl of water then use it to smooth caulk. Let dry.

How to Install Simple Wainscoting

Paint chair railing, wood frames and bottom half of the wall in a semi gloss paint of your choice. And there you have it – instant charm!

How to Install Simple Wainscoting

Don’t limit yourself – moulding can go anywhere! Add it to the lower and upper part of a wall. Use it to frame lighting or a picture. Or add it to an entire wall for a real statement piece.

One Comment Add yours

Leave a Reply