Wainscoting is a terrific way to add some character to your home. If it’s something you’re considering, than you want to think about doing it properly, and really planning out the look you want to achieve. Even with wainscoting there are a lot of different types and materials to choose from.
You can use wainscoting in any room really, however the most common uses are the bathroom, kitchen, hallway, and dining room. This is commonly because you are using a harder surface material to keep the wall safe from various activities.
A great reference guide for wainscoting comes from is This Old House. The type of wainscoting you want to use is indicative of the style you wish to have in your room.
This is often the most traditional type of wainscoting. It is in many colonial styled homes and is quite formal looking.
Bead Board Panel
It is a specific type of material (see below) and it gives a very casual and country look.
Flat / Recessed Panel
These are in many mission style homes and much less formal.
Board and Batten
Often in craftsman homes, and uses vertical wood panels with boards at the seams.
Using paint is clearly the cheapest and easiest. Essentially what you are doing is using a bold change in colors to simulate the look of a wainscoting.
PVC Plastic. This is durable and highly inexpensive. It requires very low maintenance and is easy to install on your own. It is a material that works in any room in your home, even the bathroom if you so need.
Wood. Very durable and looks best when shown in its true form. It can be easy to install on your own, it just takes time and the proper tools. This can also be much more expensive than some of the alternatives.
Tile. This is best in the bathroom, or an area where you need true water resistance. It’s usually the easiest to clean and also very easy to install on your own.
MDF. When painted can achieve the same look as wood, it’s just much cheaper. You can find MDF panels that make the installation process a whole lot easier.
Beadboard. This is often confused with the term wainscoting itself, however it is actually just a type of wainscoting. It is a type of paneling that is combined with molding and a chair rail along the top.
I highly recommend trying to install wainscoting on your own. Just look into what material and style you want first. A great tutorial online comes from Shanty 2 Chic, and they lay out each step in a very easy to understand process.