As far as architectural elegance is concerned, you can’t go wrong with wainscoting installation. No matter which profiles you choose, they will transform the room. They can change completely the environment and make it far more interesting. Apart from protecting the walls and increasing insulation, they will add depth and texture. But in order to achieve such impressive results, you need to consider some factors that could compromise your project. Then again, wainscoting problems don’t have to do only with the installation of the panels. They also have to do with materials, the condition of the wall, and the decisions you take when you are trying to make structural changes. So, what can go wrong with wainscoting walls?
Wainscoting the bathroom – beware of what you choose
Wainscoting panels won’t last long if you choose the wrong material. When it comes to wet environments, like your bathroom or even the basement, wood panels are not a good choice. Wood is not resistant to water. So avoid it especially if water splashes on the panel. It will rot.
You can use beadboard in the guest bathroom, where there is no humidity since there is no tub or shower cabinet. Ventilation plays a huge role because it removes moisture. But there will still be moisture in the bathroom. If you want panels in the main bathroom or basement, prefer PVC ones. They are more resistant.
Pay attention to wainscoting painting
It’s better to use a latex-based primer and paint for the bathroom wainscoting. Avoid exterior or oil-based paint. They can peel or allow mold growth. Latex paints protect the material better and make it more resistant to humidity and mold. What you choose also depends on ventilation. If your bathroom is not ventilated enough, prefer a full gloss latex enamel to ensure the wood panels are protected. Alternatively, you can stain the bead board and finish it with water-and-solvent-based paints or polyurethane.
What can go wrong with wainscoting installation?
Attention is required before and during the installation of the flat or raised wainscoting. Check out what to consider:
Although a classic wainscoting installation would cover one third of the wall, this is not always the case. Consider the height of the ceiling, especially if you intend to bring it up or down. Choose chair rails that match the existing trims in terms of style and width. As an overall, panels and trims should be proportional to other architectural elements in the room, like door panels, cabinets or window sashes
Avoid bringing the panel and trims over door casing. End them where the door casing begins. Don’t glue the panel to drywall. Most wainscoting panels are tongue-and-groove to allow them to move with temperature fluctuations. If they are glued, they might split. Another problem with placing wainscoting to drywall is possible cracks. They will allow air in and out compromising heating and creating moisture problems. It’s best to put plywood behind panels. Make sure the wall behind the panel is level or wainscoting might bulge out of alignment.
Floors are not always even. They might sag. So it’s better not to use them as the guides to align the panels. Use the wall as your guide and compensate the loss in the baseboard. That’s unless the floor is simply sloped. In this case, you should follow its route so that the horizontal line created by the wainscoting will be parallel to the floor. Measure well the width of the wall to get the right number and size of panels. All panels should be of the same size and they must end with stiles on both sides of the wall.
The chair rail should have a finish trim below to conceal the tiny gap created when the wainscoting is placed tightly to the base. Don’t use a pair of screws to hold the stiles or chair rail in place. A single row will do. In a different case and when they are installed to plywood, they might crack since they too need to move with temperature changes.
Your modern wainscoting will most likely have a baseboard. But there might be more baseboards in the room. Make sure they are all the same as far as their height and style are concerned. It will also make a difference in regard to aesthetics if the base size and design match that of the crown molding.
No matter which wainscoting design you choose, what you want is to renovate or decorate the walls without having problems tomorrow. To make the best out of these projects, consider every single detail that could cause trouble and always trust experienced pros to do the job.