Adding Wainscoting Panelling to Your Home

Let’s talk about one of the timeless features that can truly transform your space without breaking the budget! Whether you’re restoring a period property or giving character to a contemporary home, wainscoting panelling adds value and charm to a room.

Here at Topology we’re huge fans of this architectural element that is both fairly inexpensive and visually transformational. In this blog post, we’ll explore what wainscoting is, how it can boost your home’s value, design options, and some handy tips for planning…

What is Wainscoting?

Wainscoting is a panelling style that has been around for centuries in England, originally used to insulate homes and protect walls from damage. Dating back to the 16th century, this design feature was all about practicality and luxury, but in modern day it adds decorative character, texture, and a touch of history into a room.

Adding Value with Style

Adding wainscoting can make your home more appealing to potential buyers. It’s a simple upgrade that enhances the aesthetic appeal, making a room feel more sophisticated and polished. And it can be a strong selling point due to its ever growing popularity. Beyond aesthetics, it also offers wall protection from everyday wear and tear, perfect for high traffic areas like hallways and dining rooms. As well as a layer of insulation to help keep the home warm and cosy.

Let’s Talk Design

You’ll want to choose a profile that complements the architecture of your home, and there are many styles to choose from. 

Basic beadboard panels are a budget friendly option that’s simple, but stylish, and perfect for a DIY project. Both appropriate for a more modern home, as well as a period property. At Topology, we’re big fans of this style within a bathroom or bedroom.

Raised panel wainscoting is a more traditional look and works well in hallways, dining rooms and living rooms. It includes a horizontal rail, with raised panels below to create internal recessed rectangles, giving walls depth and detail. Alternatively, you could add raised picture rail moulding directly onto the walls below the chair rail instead of wider panels. 

Check out this post from Skirting World to see the different moulding styles available.

Planning your Wainscoting

Ready to get started? Here’s a step by step on how to plan where your wainscoting will go. 


Choose your panelling style – Pinterest and Instagram are great sources for inspiration if you need some ideas on a look that suits your space.


Measure up – accurate measurements are crucial. Measure the height and width of the walls where you want to install the panelling – don’t forget to account for doorways, windows and any other features.


Decide on height – typically speaking, the height of wainscoting is usually ⅓ of the wall’s height (around 90-120cm from the floor). If you’re keeping the existing skirting, you’ll want to make sure the height looks in proportion with these and reduce or add a couple of cm’s height if required.


Layout planning – sketch your design on paper, or use a digital tool such as SketchUp. This will help you to visualise the placement of panels, trim and any decorative elements. It might also be helpful to draw the design directly onto the wall in pencil or mark with painters tape to get a feel for how the sizing and spacing works in reality.


Gather your materials – now you have a plan, gather your panels, trim, nails and paint! You’ll also need tools – a saw, hammer, measuring tape and spirit level. 

Wainscoting is a great way to infuse your home with style and practical benefits. Whether you’re a DIY-er, or prefer to leave it up to the experts, this classic panelling can elevate your space without breaking the budget. And remember, the key to a successful wainscoting project is planning and precision!

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