DIY Wainscoting with Paige Hemmis

1. Pick a design that you love. There are many beautiful designs out there…look online for some ideas, then pick on that speaks to you. For this design, I picked a larger beam-type look using 5 ½" thick moulding MDF pre-primed pieces. I believe this looks best in a larger room. Make sure you pick a moulding that is the same height on each side. Wainscoting can be applied to one wall as an accent piece, or can be applied to all walls to create a more dramatic look.

2. Remove the current baseboard. You will have to "score" (cut with a utility knife) through the caulking. Be sure to cut vertically on the top of the baseboard so you don’t cut into the drywall.

3. Take a crow bar on the top of baseboard moulding and tap in with a hammer. Once it is in between the moulding and the wall, gently pull to bring it away from the wall by rocking the crow bar back and forth. Be careful not to pull too much at first or it will splinter and crack the moulding. Repeat this step every foot until you have come to the end of the wall. Remove the baseboard moulding and set it aside. You will need this again to re-attach as a finish piece. Remove any nails left in the baseboard with a hammer or needle-nose pliers.

4. Measure how high you would like your moulding. Any measurement from 36" high to 60" high, depending on the style you are trying to achieve, and how high your wall height is. Measure this amount every few feet to create a level line.

5. Take blue painter’s tape and make a line across the wall. This will be your paint line.

6. Paint from the blue tape down. The tape will serve as a line, so you don’t have to worry about painting out of the lines.

7. Measure & cut your moulding according to the style you have picked. On our wall, we measured 88 ¼" across the top and bottom moulding plates. Then for the vertical pieces (also called "styles"), we measured four pieces at 48". This will give us a finished height of about 60". For the styles, space them evenly across your wall so the empty space between the boards are the same. Mark the wall where they will go so it’s easier when you place them on the wall.

8. Add glue to the back of the moulding and press it into place. You can use a nail gun (or brad nailer) to secure the moulding in place. Wipe off any excess glue. Let dry according to the glue you used.

9. Add a top plate (shelf) to your wainscoting by taking a piece of smaller MDF moulding and turning it on its side. I used 3½" moulding so that it doesn’t protrude into the room too much. This is still large enough to place pictures and knick-knacks if you want to. Attach with glue and nail into place.

10. Under the top plate, get a piece of crown moulding that spans between the top plate and the piece on the wall. Attach with glue and pin into place with nails.

11. Reattach the old baseboard over the top of the bottom plate. Glue and nail into place.

12. Apply caulking (paintable) to every side of the moulding. This will allow a seamless look when you are done. Let dry.

13. Apply one to two coats of high gloss or semi-gloss paint to the wall and moulding. Let dry.

14. Voila!

Get more from Paige Hemmis at her site:

How to Start a Garden
How to Start a Garden