If you want to add a new style to your wall, you may find yourself in the dilemma of deciding which technique you want to use. When you have a wall already installed, the coating options are reduced, and many choose to simply change the wallpaper as it is an inexpensive alternative. However, it is possible to create a much more detailed and majestic design through wainscoting. If you have arrived here it is because you are wondering how much cost to install wainscoting. We will review some important details that you should know before starting this project.

Adding wood paneling and trim to your home’s walls is one way to give them a new look, but unlike other options, this adds a 3D effect and not just a makeover.

Additionally, wainscoting homes are much more refined and expensive, something that influences your home’s value.

Image source: New Perspective Design, Inc.

The problem with this type of coating is that its cost is not easily calculated since it will depend on many variables.

Some of the aspects to consider are the height of the covering, the compound you will use to adhere it to the wall and the room’s square meters. Even knowing this, we must consider that not all stores have the same price.

Finally, there is a characteristic that will largely determine the price, and that is whether or not the wood will be varnished. In addition to requiring varnish, these coatings need stronger wood that is installed differently, and its cracks cannot be repaired with inexpensive solutions such as caulking. All this increases the wainscoting cost.

Wainscoting utility

Image source: Patrick Ahearn Architect

The wainscoting installation began as an engineering and architectural solution to protect drywall from external elements such as water. That is why these are installed at the bottom of the walls.

Today there are still places where they are required for protection, but there are also homeowners who install it as decoration in their homes.

Wainscoting is made up of at least two basic elements: a base sheet that covers the largest perimeter, and a top lath called chair rail. In addition to this, the amount of additional decorative elements is practically unlimited.

Cost to install wainscoting – Quick analysis

When it comes to average costs, you will most likely spend between $1,050 and $1,600 for a basic installation. This calculation is using as a reference a 3.65×3.65m (12x12ft) room and installing unpainted panels.

Materials alone cost approximately $600, which means that the installation is just over 50% of the budget. That is why many homeowners prefer to do the installation themselves.

If you have the necessary experience, you can also save half the cost to install wainscoting. There are other aspects where you can save money; you can use construction adhesive as an inexpensive substitute for bonding the panels, and for the finish, you can leave the wood in its natural state and simply sand and prime it.

Before deciding whether to carry out the project on your own, you must measure your room’s perimeter. This is the only way to determine how much material you will need for the project. You may have leftover material in your home that you can use to touch up installation details, which will reduce the needed budget.

Calculating the amount of wainscoting you require is simple. First, measure the room’s perimeter. Remember to exclude the doors from this measure, since they do not need coating.

Now that you have the measured perimeter, you need to determine how high the sheets will be. This will depend on your taste or needs.

To determine the sheets’ square area you will need to buy, you just need to multiply the perimeter’s length by the sheets’ height, both using the same unit. For example, a perimeter of 50 feet multiplied by a height of 3 feet results in 150 square feet.

In case you’ve written down the data in inches, simply divide the square inches you got by 144 to get the square feet. Now you can calculate the shiplap costs.

Finally, you have the option of calling a contractor, although this could increase the price up to $5,000 depending on the room’s size. The advantage is that you don’t have to worry about installation.

Calculating based on square foot

As you may have noticed, the result of the measurements will give you a number in square feet. This is the unit used in stores to sell the sheets.

Coating square foot is not a fixed price as it depends on the material you choose. The cheapest sheet can cost $0.50 per square foot, while the perfect solid wood for varnishing could cost you $40 per square foot. The average square foot is $5.50, and for a full-size room, a total cost of $1,300 is calculated.

With enough searching, you are likely to find good quality inexpensive options on the market, such as these real wood beadboards paneling that cost just $1 per square foot.

Cost to install wainscoting based on the panel

Image source: Louise Lakier

Some stores calculate the panels’ price per unit. Although this is not very accurate, buying the panels by units allows you to purchase extra material that is always useful in case of repairs.

The cheap wood panel costs approximately $8, while the solid wood panel can reach $20 per unit.

Paneling prices based on the material

Image source: Carter Inc

Calculated in square feet, poplar plywood costs around $7, while red oak reaches $11, making this an intermediate option.

Cherry wood can reach $22, but this is perfect for applying a varnish coat to the coating.

The shape influences the price

Image source: JAUREGUI Architecture Interiors Construction

The cost to install wainscoting will also depend on the coating’s shape. Basic designs made of smooth pieces of wood with a pair of decorative slats can cost between $10 and $20 per square foot.

More complex coating designs where moldings are installed on smooth wood can reach $40 per square foot, although the type of molding will determine the final price, and can even be bought for $10 per square foot.

Build your panels

There is a much cheaper alternative for those owners who want to build their panels, provided they have the time available.

Some sets include the necessary materials for you to assemble the cladding panels yourself. With the right selection of materials and figures, you can make the wall panel price less than $100. You can also go to the other extreme and purchase an expensive kit for $2,500.

When commercial options don’t convince you

Image source: Daniel J Mailey Carpentry, Inc.

If you can’t find anything on the market that catches your eye, you can hire a carpenter to do a custom job.

The carpenter will charge approximately $1,000 or $3,000 for the job and may take 3-5 days to complete it, but you can choose the material and shapes you want.

Labor cost

Should you call a contractor for the job, they will charge you depending on the number of hours the installation takes. The average price is $90 an hour, and it is estimated that this work will be done in a maximum of 24 hours in a room of moderate to small size, so the price of the work will vary between $1,500 and $2,000.

The carpenter usually offers you up to 70% cheaper price, but it will depend on the time it takes to install it and the material of the cladding.

To paint or not to paint?

The market offers two types of finishes that affect the cost to install wainscoting. The first finish only includes a primer coat, which means that you will have to paint the coating.

The second finish is more expensive since the panels are factory painted. If you have the necessary time and experience, you can paint the panels yourself and save some money.

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