Wainscoting is the technique of applying wood panels to a chair railing on a wall. There are many different designs for wainscoting to choose from. Go to your local home improvement center and pick out the design that best suits you. Choose a chair railing as well. You might want to even pick out some paint to redo the whole wall at once.
Pry off the baseboard along the walls of the room you are doing. You can save the trim and reuse it if you’re crafty enough to remove it without breaking it, otherwise you’ll have to buy new base. Using a tape measure, measure from the floor up and make a mark. Do this in each corner and snap a line along the wall. If you’re alone use a nail to hold the line in place. Usually wainscoting is around 40 to 48 inches off the ground.
Find the studs using a stud finder or if you don’t have one then poke a nail in the wall behind the wainscoting. Mark the studs location just above the line for the top of your wainscoting. Use liquid nails or a similar adhesive and spread on the wall in a vertical ribbon with a caulk gun. Do about 3 feet at a time and place wainscoting before the caulk dries. When the planks are over the studs nail them to the wall using a finish nail. Nail the finish nail into the groove of the wainscoting, that way the nail will be hidden when the next piece goes over top of it. Tack the first piece and take a horizontal measurement to make sure the pieces fit squarely on the wall. Make sure you have the same measurement on the bottom as you do on the top of the first piece of wainscoting.
When you come to a window or door opening where you have to cut a unique angle, leave off the last piece of wainscoting. Make a mark on the wall where it will fall. Then use a compass and measure the distance between the next piece and the window. Set your compass to that length and hold up the wainscoting to the window. Scribe along with your compass and cut out. You” have the perfect fit for those hard to reach places where you just can’t get a measurement.
Once you have the wainscoting done and all the cuts are made around the windows, you can begin to nail the baseboard on. Start from the left side of a door and continue around counter clockwise. Cut the right hand side of your base board with a 45 degree mitre and cope off the remainder with a coping saw. Use a level to make a mark on the base board from the top of your stud marks you made previously.
Once the base is done now you can add you chair rail. If your chair rail is thick and you plan on painting it, you may just want to 45 and cope all your corners. It will be easier to get a nice corner. If you plan on staining it or it’s very thin, then you will need to 45 each corner to fit. It gives it a more professional look and you tend to see the nicer cut when looking down at the chair railing. If the chair railing is thin you may want to pre drill holes for the nails to prevent splitting.
It’s easy when you learn a few pointers and tips from the pros. In no time you should get the hang of wainscoting. It will last for years to come and give a fancy look to an old room or office.