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How Much Does It Cost to Install Wainscoting?

Low
$2,000
Average Cost
$3,855
High
$5,000
(12x12-foot room of solid wood flat panel wainscot with plain molding)

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How Much Does It Cost to Install Wainscoting?

Low
$2,000
Average Cost
$3,855
High
$5,000
(12x12-foot room of solid wood flat panel wainscot with plain molding)

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Wainscoting is a type of wall paneling, dating back to the 18th century, and it is still popular today. It was used as an extra layer of insulation for the home, but it is more commonly chosen for decorative purposes. It can offer a range of benefits, from protection to beauty, and it comes in many different materials and styles.

The costs of wainscoting projects average between $3,000 and $4,500. For example, to install wainscoting in a 12x12-foot room in a flat-panel material made of solid wood, primed, and painted on-site, the average homeowner pays around $3,855 for the finished project. Prices can be much lower or higher. Some simple MDF beadboard without any decorative molding can be installed for around $2,000, while solid wood, raised- panel wainscoting with decorative molding costs around $5,000.

Cost to Install Wainscoting

Wainscoting Installation Prices
National Average Cost$3,855
Average Range$3,000-$4,500
Minimum Cost$2,000
Maximum Cost$5,000


Updated: What's new?

Wainscoting Installation Cost by Project Range

Low
$2,000
MDF beadboard with no decorative molding
Average Cost
$3,855
12x12-foot room of solid wood flat panel wainscot with plain molding
High
$5,000
Solid wood raised panel wainscot with decorative molding

What is Wainscoting?

Wainscoting is a type of wall covering, dating back several centuries. It was particularly popular during the Victorian times in Britain, and the term ‘wainscot’ derives from an old German word, wagenschot, which translates to ‘wallboard.’ In the 18th century, wainscoting was constructed with high-quality oak. Panels made from this oak would be installed to the lower sections of interior walls, designed to insulate the room and make the space appear more ornate and decorative.

Today, homeowners choose wainscoting for decorative appeal, but it has some other advantages, such as keeping plaster walls safe from marks and damage. It gives homeowners options in material, style, and color and can be fitted in many rooms.

Wainscoting Cost per Square Foot

The room size and paneling amount you install are the main factors affecting the cost of any wainscoting project. Larger rooms need more paneling, resulting in higher costs. Other factors affect the price, such as materials and panel types. Wainscoting can be purchased for $7 to $40 per square foot. The average cost is around $15 per square foot. The table below shows estimates for wainscoting costs for different room sizes, but the exact costs may differ based on the type of wainscoting you choose:


Wainscoting Cost per Square Foot Chart


Wainscoting Cost per Square Foot Chart


Room SizeAverage Cost (Material Only)
100 square foot$1,000 - $2,500
200 square foot$1,500 - $3,000
300 square foot$2,000 - $3,500


Wainscoting Cost by Type of Panels

While wainscoting refers to any panel or board applied to the wall, many types are available. Each provides a unique look to a room. Some are better-suited to country-style and rustic homes, while others offer a more modern and minimalistic aesthetic for contemporary spaces. The panel type affects the project’s cost, and the table below shows some common types, along with average costs:


Wainscoting Panel Cost

Wainscoting Panel Cost


Type of PanelAverage Cost (Material Only)
Flat-Panel$7-$20/sq.ft.
Beadboard$7-$20/sq.ft.
Board and Batten$7-$20/sq.ft.
Shiplap$7-$20/sq.ft.
Raised-Panel$10-$30/sq.ft.
Overlay$10-$40/sq.ft.


Flat-Panel Wainscoting

Flat-panel wainscoting is the simplest option. It offers a minimalistic design, with flat panels fitted behind the styles and rails, without any beveled edges or fancy trim. This is one of the better options for contemporary homes, costing between $7 and $20 per square foot.

Cost of Beadboard

Beadboard wainscoting is more decorative than the basic styles. It is made of tongue-and-groove panels, arranged side by side, with trim along the bottom. It has a rustic, country feel and brings warmth to the home. This type of wainscoting ranges from $7 to $20 per square foot.

Board-and-Batten Wainscoting

Board-and-batten paneling, also known as Shaker wainscoting, is similar to flat-panel wainscoting, with vertical boards covering up seams. These vertical boards are called battens and allow the wainscoting to be installed in squares or rectangles. Expect to pay between $7 and $20 per square foot.

Cost to Install Shiplap

Shiplap wainscot paneling is made up of rows of horizontally stacked boards, offering a rustic or cabin-like feel to the home. It is commonly used outside of cabins and cottages, but adding it inside makes for an interesting feature. It costs between $7 and $20 per square foot.

Raised-Panel Wainscoting

Raised-panel wainscoting is one of the most traditional variants. For this type of wainscoting, backboards are installed first, and then the panels are applied on top, giving them a raised, 3D look, enhanced by the addition of decorative baseboard trim. The cost for this paneling ranges from $10 to $30 per square foot.

Overlay Wainscoting

Overlay wainscoting is quite similar to raised-panel wainscoting. Overlay comes with an additional board across the center, adding more decoration and detail to the design. This is also one of the most expensive types of wainscoting, costing between $10 and $40 per square foot.

Wainscoting Price by Material

Wainscoting is available in many materials and styles. These materials offer different looks and finishes for your wall, and the prices vary greatly. Some materials like plywood are relatively cheap, while solid wood offerings cost more. The table below shows common wainscoting materials, complete with average costs for each:


Wainscoting Prices

Wainscoting Prices


Type of MaterialAverage Cost (Material Only)
Vinyl$4-$7/sq.ft.
Plastic$4-$7/sq.ft.
Plywood$7-$17/sq.ft.
MDF$7-$17/sq.ft.
Stone Veneer$10-$25/sq.ft.
Ceramic Tile$10-$25/sq.ft.
Oak$12-$30/sq.ft.
Maple$13-$35/sq.ft.
Cherry$14-$40/sq.ft.


Vinyl Wainscoting

Vinyl is appealing to small budgets because it is the cheapest option. Vinyl can be found in various styles, colors, and finishes, designed to imitate other materials. It is relatively flexible and easy to install, costing $4 to $7 per square foot.

Plastic Wainscoting

Plastic wainscoting is cheap and simple. Plastic wainscoting kits can be purchased easily, and plastic is a relatively lightweight material, fitting on your walls around the home. The average price range for this wainscoting is from $4 to $7 per square foot.

Plywood Wainscoting

Plywood is another popular material used for wainscoting. It gives the look and feel of wood, without costing as much as true solid wood alternatives like maple or oak. The costs for plywood wainscoting range from $7 to $17 per square foot.

MDF Wainscoting

Like plywood, MDF is a relatively affordable option for those who like the idea of having wooden wainscoting but do not want to pay the higher prices. MDF is strong and durable, easy to install, and costs between $7 and $17 per square foot.

Stone Veneer Wainscot

Stone veneer is one of the more unique options for wainscoting projects. It is a special type of veneer designed to imitate the look of stone, and it can be purchased in many colors and styles, bringing a little bit of the outdoors inside. This wainscoting typically costs between $10 and $25 per square foot.

Ceramic Tile Wainscoting

You can even make wainscoting with ceramic tiles. This can be a beautiful option, especially in rooms like the bathroom. But the installation process can be a little longer and more costly because each tile needs to be positioned correctly, one by one. The costs for this range between $10 and $25 per square foot.

Oak Wainscoting

Oak was one of the most popular wainscoting materials in the 18th century when wainscoting first became popular around the United Kingdom and Europe. It is a hard, durable wood that looks striking and costs between $12 and $30 per square foot.

Maple Wainscoting

Maple is another beautiful solid wood option you can choose for your wainscoting project, popular for its intricate grain patterns. Maple can be stained in different shades and colors to blend in with the aesthetics of your home. This type of wood wainscoting costs between $13 and $35 per square foot.

Cherry Wainscoting

Cherry is one of the most popular woods for wainscoting. Dark and rich in color, it works well in elegant, refined spaces and can lend an air of sophistication and style to living rooms, offices, and bedrooms. It is expensive, ranging from $14 to $40 per square foot.

Wainscoting Installation Process

The type of wainscoting and material impacts the cost and method of installation. The walls need to be clean, dry, and in good repair. The panels are made to fit into one another and are generally installed with an adhesive before being nailed into place.

It is common to do a dry fit around the room and make cuts for corners, ends of rows, and outlets before the installation begins.

Because there is no standard height for wainscot, it may be adjusted based on the wall’s height. The rule of thumb states the wainscot makes up roughly ⅔ of the wall’s height and extends around the room’s perimeter.


Classic white interior witn chair mirrors and open door


Cost to Install Wainscoting

Many contractors charge an hourly rate to install the material. A solid wood wainscot with many moldings takes longer and costs more to install than the same amount of a flat-panel wainscot with no moldings.

The average installation for a 12x12-foot room using wood flat-panel wainscoting takes around 17 hours to install start to finish. At a rate of $90 per hour on average, this comes to $1,530. More difficult material may take longer or have a higher hourly rate, while easier-to-work-with materials may take less time or command a lower hourly rate.

Cost to Install Custom Wainscoting

When working with custom wainscoting, the prices vary depending on the kind of panels you use and how much work needs to be done. Custom jobs are longer because they require contractors and carpenters to create custom panels and trims and then fit them. Labor costs start at $2,000.

Cost to Install Beadboard

For beadboard wainscoting, each panel needs to be installed side by side. This lengthens the process compared to other types of wainscoting. Trim needs to be fitted along the base, so installation costs start at around $1,500.

Cost to install Board-and-Batten Wainscoting

Board-and-batten wainscoting is relatively simple to install but needs to be measured precisely and carefully, with the vertical boards being placed in just the right places to ensure that the final work looks neat and tidy. Expect to pay a minimum of $1,500 for installing this kind of wainscoting in most rooms.

Cost to Install Raised-Panel Wainscoting

Raised-panel wainscoting is one of the more complicated installations because it uses back paneling, additional materials, and trim, so the process takes longer. The minimum average installation costs around $2,000.

Cost to Install Beadboard Ceiling

You can also consider applying wood panels to your ceilings. Beadboard paneling can look especially attractive on ceilings, providing a country cabin or seaside cottage feel while preserving heat in the room. This does not count as wainscoting since that term only applies to walls, but it is the same principle and is installed similarly. Expect to pay at least $2,000 for beadboard paneling installed on your ceiling.


Classic mezzanine loft with big panoramic window


Cost to Install Tongue and Groove Ceiling

Another option for your ceiling is tongue and groove. This is when single planks of wood are placed along the ceiling, one after another, resulting in a clean look that works equally well in traditional and contemporary homes. This technique provides a similar final look to a beadboard ceiling, but the installation process is different. It can also be a little cheaper, with minimum costs of around $1,000 when using basic materials like MDF. The price can rise substantially if you use solid woods.​

Wainscoting Pros and Cons

Wainscoting has been around for decades and has many positive reasons to install it. Wainscoting is, first and foremost, a way to protect your walls. While today’s drywall is less fragile than old plaster was, wainscot is usually easier to clean and maintain. Fingerprints, scuffs, and children’s drawings are easier to get off of wainscot than walls.

With the many styles available, wainscot can also enhance a room’s appearance and determine the interior design. Raised panels give a room a formal style, while beadboard can create a cottage look.

Wainscot is an expensive way to cover your walls, making it difficult to change the décor over time. If the wainscot is installed at the wrong height, it can throw off the room’s proportions. Some materials may also not be durable in high-traffic areas, such as bathrooms and mudrooms, leading to the need for frequent repair.


Orange peach colorful dining room with oriental rug


How to Clean Wainscoting

Over time, it is easy for dust and dirt to build up on wainscot panels and wall surfaces, especially when those panels have little crevices and nooks. Wainscoting needs to be cleaned regularly.

Fortunately, wainscot is considered fairly low-maintenance. When properly primed and painted or stained, it is usually easier to clean than the walls themselves. Wainscots are often given a high-gloss finish designed to wipe clean easily, protecting the walls from scuffs and other issues.

Wainscot with ample moldings may need to be dusted more frequently than flat wainscoting. Otherwise, most wainscot is easy to clean with a soft cloth, soap, and water, but the precise way you clean wainscoting depends on the materials you are working with.

Plastic and vinyl can be wiped clean easily with a cloth, while wooden panels may require the use of specialized wood-cleaning products. Typically, a microfiber cloth should be enough to gather up most dust and debris, and you can even run your vacuum over the panels, with a brush attachment on the hose.

For tougher stains, use a damp cloth with warm soapy water, or try out a simple homemade cleaning solution by blending two parts vinegar with one part water. Only use these liquid cleaners on sealed or painted woods because unsealed and unfinished woods may absorb the liquids and become even dirtier as a result.

Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Cost to Paint Wainscoting

Wainscot panels are available primed and ready to be painted or already painted and ready for installation. If you choose to purchase primed panels, you can either paint them yourself or have them professionally painted at $2 to $5 per square foot.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • In most cases, it is best to contrast your wainscoting with the wall. For a bold wall, choose a white panel. For white or cream walls, choose a bright color or wood stain for the paneling.
  • Many homeowners choose to install wainscoting in high-use areas to help keep them clean, such as mudrooms, children’s rooms, hallways, and dens.
  • Wainscot is designed to run the perimeter of the room. The height may vary but is generally considered best at ⅔ of the wall height.
  • Solid wood wainscot is more expensive and difficult to install but gives the most classic appearance and the option for a stain.
  • While wainscoting itself does not add much to the home’s value, it increases appeal and may make homes easier to sell.

FAQs

  • How much does it cost to put up wainscoting?

The average cost to install wainscoting in a 12x12-foot room is around $3,855.

  • How much does it cost to install wood paneling?

The average cost to install wood paneling or wainscot in a 12x12-foot room is around $3,855.​

  • What is the proper height for wainscoting?

Wainscoting should take up roughly ⅔ of the wall you are installing it on.

  • Can you install wainscoting over drywall?

Yes, it is possible to install wainscoting on drywall.

Cost to install wainscoting varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Updated:
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.
Classic white wainscoting in living room
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Cost to install wainscoting varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.