There was a time when houses did not have damp-proof courses designed to significantly reduce or prevent moisture from seeping into homes. Because of this, moisture would gather at the bottom of walls on the lower-most floors of houses, allowing the dampness to rise upward. This is where wainscoting comes in. What is wainscoting, you ask? Wainscoting is a type of paneling designed to cover the lower third of a wall. By doing so, it protects the wall from moisture and the wicking effect that moisture creates, called rising damp. While it’s often installed in the lower third of the wall, wainscoting can reach up as high as 8 feet from the floor.
Wainscoting had a purpose before damp-proof courses were widely installed in homes; it is largely done for decorative purposes now; however, the idea of partitioning the lower-third of the wall remains. Panels are made out of materials such as tile and vinyl. The paneling is capped off with a protruding molding. This molding is sometimes named for the wainscoting height at which the paneling is capped off. A chair rail is a type of molding that protects the paint from chairs when people back out of them, just in case the chair hits the wall. A plate rail sits up higher, and is used by some people to show off their plates decoratively, or other collectible items.
What is wainscoting supposed to do for your wall? Well, it provides a contrast between wooden or painted walls. Furthermore, when it does come time to paint, it means that there’s less of the wall you have to paint. Wainscoting kits can be purchased at home improvement stores, and they’ve become pretty easy to install over the years. Raised paneling made out of wood will cost more and will need to be cut in order to fit your wall properly, which means that it’ll wind up costing more. Just a little bit of time is needed to install, but the end result is great looking paneling that will improve the look of the lower part of your wall for years to come.
Wainscoting has its purpose in decorative design now, even if its original purpose has long since passed. For people who don’t like painting an entire wall, it reduces the actual painting area. Also, paneling materials are sturdy and clean off quickly, keeping their great looks for a long, long time. Many people are rediscovering wainscoting and installing it in their homes. If you want a quick, easy way to install the paneling yourself, visit your local home improvement store and buy a ready-made wainscoting kit.