Bathroom Wainscoting Ideas – Should You Put Wainscoting In Your Bathroom?

What is wainscoting in bathrooms? Bathroom wainscoting is a style of wall panelling. It originated from Holland and England.

What Is Bathroom Wainscoting?

What is wainscoting in bathrooms? Bathroom wainscoting is a style of wall panelling. It originated from Holland and England. At first, homeowners covered an entire wall surface. Today, homeowners cover the lower parts only. Advances in wood processing technology have brought a wide variety of materials to pick from. Covering bathrooms during bathroom renovation with wainscoting involves nailing panels of wood on sections of the walls then topping it with a chair rail moulding. Chair rail moulding is a decorative wood trim that is placed horizontally on the walls.

As for what is the purpose of wainscoting, the first is to add interesting texture and a country appeal to a rather plain bathroom wall. It is also used to create a contrast with the walls to break the monotony. Towel bars mounted on walls above wainscoting look amazing. So, is wainscoting good for a bathroom? The answer is yes. The added layer protects your bathroom walls from moisture and serves as great insulation. Wainscoting will also add value to your home.

luxury bathroom with clawfoot tub and tile floor

What Is The Difference Between Wainscoting And Beadboard?

The purpose of both wainscoting and beadboard is the same. However, there are key differences between the two. For one, wainscoting has flat panels within a frame. They are distinguished by the appearance of upper and bottom rails plus side rails which divide the board. As for the beadboard, the panels match vertically to form stripes. The indented line comes from the tongue and tongue connection. This is an attachment mode in which a protruding tongue on a board slides into a receiving groove of the adjacent board. This mode of attachment is used in ceilings, exterior siding and flooring.

As you compare wainscoting vs beadboard, you should note that wainscoting is a style of wood panelling that is seen on the lower ½ to 1/3 of a wall. It is typically seen around the whole perimeter of a room. It protects the wall from damage, more so if the area is prone to impact. Wainscoting is commonly assembled from beadboard panels.

Beadboard is characterized by the long, continuous vertical grooves and the raised beads which are spaced by an inch or two. The boards can be purchased as individual boards or as large panels. Is beadboard good for bathrooms? The answer is yes. They protect the walls from damage.

Which is more expensive wainscoting or beadboard? This depends on the selected materials, the area being covered and the contractor.

Other considerations include:

  • Shiplap – Shiplap borrows inspiration from exterior house siding. They are selected for their appearance, not function. They give a rustic look.
  • Raised Panels – These are seen in expensive older homes, and used with wainscoting. They create deep shadows for an excellent eye-arresting look.
  • Tongue and Groove – This is an attachment mode where protruding tongue on one board slides into a receiving groove of the adjacent board.
  • Flat Panels – This is panelling that has a completely smooth front. It is the hallmark of contemporary or modern design.

White trim and chair guard with beige textured wall paint

What Height Does Wainscoting Need To Be In Your Bathroom?

Typically, the standard height of wainscoting for a bathroom is about 38 to 42 inches. This is about 1/3 of the bathroom wall. Should wainscoting be higher than vanity? For easier installation, the height shouldn’t go over the vanity and sink. However, if you want a tall wainscoting bathroom, it works best as a backsplash for your tub and vanity. You can place wainscoting 4 to 8 inches above these bathroom elements. More effort will be needed to complete the installation of higher wainscoting. Always avoid heights that exceed 48 to 54 inches.

How high should wainscoting be in a bathroom? You must always consider the size of your walls before you consider the installation of wainscoting. If you have a small bathroom, keep the height of the wainscoting low and vice versa if the bathroom is big. Always remember that the dark wainscoting causes a bathroom to appear smaller. This is more so if you have a low ceiling. If you are unsure how it will look, test it out using wall tape. The tape should mark your desired height.

Once you get the height right, you have to think about the bathroom wainscoting materials. Make sure you select a material that is treated to be moisture-resistant. Here are the best materials.

Vinyl Wainscoting For Bathrooms

Vinyl is often used as an alternative to traditional wood. It is preferred for its longevity, water-resistance and the fact that it is very easy to clean. It is also good to note that this material is remarkably stain-resistant. As a result, vinyl wainscoting for bathrooms is the ideal choice for homes with small children.

Bead board and top trim board (chair rail)


Plastic is usually made of cellular PVC or solid surfacing material, which is similar to the one used on kitchen counters. The best thing about plastic is that it is extremely water-resistant. Unlike wood, it will never rot, and it is very easy to clean. You can get plastic that is painted wood. It is excellent for high-moisture areas.

installing the floor skirting board. dismantling of the plastic skirting board.

MDF Bathroom Wainscoting

MDF (medium-density fiberboard) has the same appearance as wood, with the main difference being that it doesn’t split, expand, warp, compress, and it does not have knots. You can purchase MDF that is ready to be painted or one that is veneered. You should go for MDF that is specially treated to be moisture-resistant else it will swell and break. If it is untreated, keep moisture and water away.

Set of skirting different form on a wood background. 3d illustration

Solid Wood

Wood is the most common material used in wainscoting. Initially, wainscoting was made with solid oak wood panels. Today, most solid wood is made of pine because it is more abundant. Advancements in technology also made any wood variety a practical choice for wainscoting. Wood can be painted, stained and trimmed to fit any style. It, however, needs to be treated to withstand the steam in the bathrooms.

Wooden or plastic white floor plinth installation in big empty room on wooden floor and white plastered stucco walls background. Interior details.

Advantages Of Adding Wainscoting To Your Bathroom

Is wainscoting good for a bathroom? Wainscoting gained popularity in the 18th century. Initially, it was used to help with insulation and to make the wall more durable. Today, the main use of wainscoting is to decorate the wall. It breaks wall monotony and makes a room more visually attractive. Advances in technology make it easy to find the best wainscoting for the bathroom. Here are the key benefits of adding wainscoting.

  • It Is a Valuable Investment
    From a design standpoint, wainscoting is a precious investment. Not only does it improve visual appeal, but it also adds warmth and value to your property. The ROI is also seen in the protection wainscoting provides to your walls. The cost of the investment varies depending on the materials it is made from, the size of the room, the type of panel being used and the height of the panel. Local market conditions also impact the cost of installing wainscoting.
  • It Comes in a Wide Range of Materials
    The best thing about wainscoting is it is available in a wide range of materials. Depending on a client’s budget and the value of a home, contractors can use medium-density fiberboard. This is an engineered product that is also referred to as pressed wood. It is a very cost-effective option for any room apart from those with high moisture levels. Other material options include real wood, ceramic tile, beadboard wainscoting, shiplap and PVC plastic, moulded drywall and embossed metal.
  • It Is Versatile
    Wainscot that can be used to transform any room. Traditional wainscot design in dark or white shades, for example, can add a sophisticated trim with bevelled or straight edges to the dining room, living room or study. The panel treatment can also be used in the entryway and along the stair walls since these areas mostly lack architectural interest. Painting wainscoting panels with an accent colour helps achieve a look that is less formal. Avoid installing wainscoting up to the ceiling.

How To Install Wainscoting In A Bathroom

The first step in the installation of wainscoting is gathering the supplies. You can get wainscoting in small packs of planks or large panels. You can get the panels cut to your desired size before they are shipped to you.
Next, you need to replace the trim work that has to be switched out. If your trim work looks cheap, you may want to get it replaced since it will look odd when panelling sticks out. Once the trim is situated, you can go ahead and install the beadboard panels. Use a stud finder to make the studs, then drill small pilot holes and attach the beadboard to the wall using trim screws. Liquid nails can also be used.

  1. You now need to cut around obstructions. At times you need a partial beadboard panel to fill certain areas. This is more so when working around electric outlets or plumbing. You have to cut the panels so that they fit. For areas underneath the window, you also need shorter wainscoting pieces. Mark cutouts on the beadboard using a pencil before cutting with a table saw.After attaching the beadboard panels to the wall, patch up the nail and screw holes using a filler. You also need to fill any large gaps using a wood filler. A sander will then be needed to smooth down the surface so that after painting, the holes will not be identifiable. Use caulk to fill any gaps and then wipe down your bathroom; the use of a sander can be very dusty.
  2. The final step is painting the beadboard panelling and the trim. Painting is quite tricky because you are working with many small dips and gaps. Make sure you paint all the dips and gaps properly with a brush. A roller can later be used to paint the entire wall. Make sure you tape off any area you don’t want the paint to get to, such as where the molding meets the floor. The floor must also be covered in a plastic sheet to prevent spills.If you want, you can install wallpaper above the wainscoting. Do this before you add the trim to your beadboard. It is good to paint the top trim pieces before installing them. That way you will not mess up the wallpaper with paint. Don’t forget to patch the holes on the trim with a wood filler.

Wainscoting Types For Your Bathroom

  1. Raised Panel Wainscoting
    This is a wood panelling feature with lines of rectangles or squares separated by vertical molding every 4 to 8 inches. Raised wood panels that have horizontal rails at the bottom and top are created using deep V-shaped bevels.Raised panel are common in high-end vintage homes. They generate deep shadows due to the deep bevels, creating an attractive appearance. They are used together with wainscoting and come pre-assembled and ready to install. They may be molded from MDF boards or polystyrene panels.
  2. Overlay Wainscoting
    This is a hybrid of flat and raised panel wainscoting styles. Flat panels are first installed, then other panels are centred on them. The panels may also be lined with molding to add elegance. Alternatively, you can put a flat wood panel with shape edges on the drywall for wainscoting design. The overlay wainscoting is a raised panelling that resembles genuine solid wood. It is connected with a neoclassical design. This is a great choice if you need something that will stand out. Choose the materials carefully.
  3. Beadboard Wainscoting
    These are wood panelling with long, uninterrupted vertical groves. They have raised beads set with spaces of 1 to 2 inches apart. Each board measures about 32 to 48 inches in length and has a width of between 3 and 4 inches. The boards are compatible side-by-side. You can also go with big panels that are a maximum of 8 linear feet long. These long panels accelerate installation. The other option is factory construction, where grooves and beads are molded into a board.
  4. Board & Batten Wainscoting
    Board and Batten wainscoting is a wood panelling option characterized by regular patterns of large vertical molding boards known as battens. The battens are 4 to 6 inches wide and are spaced at 6 to 10 inches. The most unique feature is the bold, harsh appearance of the board and batten wainscoting. This was quite popular in the early 18th century homes. Battens conceal gaps between boards. For aesthetic purposes, extra battens can be inserted between the joints.
  5. Shiplap Wainscoting
    The interior panelling style known as shiplap takes its name from the type of exterior home siding. The panels are made of long horizontal planks which are overlapped at the edges. The lip of the upper board overlaps with portions of the lower board. This leads to better weatherproofing and sturdy joints, especially for external applications. When used inside, shiplap is considered for decorative purposes and not functionality. It gives a rustic appeal to the dining rooms, bedrooms, living areas and hallways. They create a farmhouse effect.
  6. Flat Wainscoting
    This is a panelling with no grooves, beads or bevels on the face. It is completely smooth. The only visual disturbance on flat wainscoting is the gaps between the boards. Seams may be left exposed while in other cases they may be concealed using metal or wood strips. This style of panelling is considered the trademark of modern or contemporary style. It is both sleek and smooth. The featureless face of this panelling allows the other elements in a room to take center stage.

Style Your Bathroom With These Wainscoting Ideas

Wainscoting For Victorian Bathroom

Victorian-style bathrooms show their splendour with the black and white clawfoot freestanding bathtub and the hardwood floors, the dark wood wainscoting painted grey, the brick walls painted in white, and the golden framed works of art on brick backgrounds. In addition, the golden showerhead, the oval-shaped shower curtain rod and the faucet offer a striking detail.

Wainscoting For Victorian Bathroom

White Wainscoting in Navy And Brass Elegance Bathroom

You can use the luxuriance of brass and the elegance of white wainscoting to create a sophisticated bathroom. Include a white console sink with all brass legs, fittings and faucet. The walls can then be covered with half white wainscoting and the other half with black beige wallpaper with square patterns. This combination adds an interesting aspect to the room. You can add a couple of wall lamps that are aligned and are also brass and white simple shaped ones as well as a mirror with brass framed oval. Vintage add-ons and flowers create a romantic feel in the space.

White Wainscoting in Navy And Brass Elegance Bathroom

Different Types of Wood Paneling

Are you a fan of different types of wood panelling? It is possible to combine various kinds of wood panelling. You can try two types of the panelling in a room. For example, you can go with shiplap up top and then wainscoting down below to achieve a magnificent contrast. Even if the two options are the same colour, combining two styles breaks up the wall and adds personality in a subtle way.

Different Types of Wood Paneling

Vintage Bathroom Wainscoting

How about an elegant vintage bathroom wainscoting idea that has a gray palette and claw-foot bathtub? This is a style with a bit of every style. It can be a simple style with modern dark gray beadboard panelling with light beige upper part as well as vintage dark hardwood floor and a vintage chair. Chrome floor mounted faucet can be added.

Vintage Bathroom Wainscoting

Black and White Wainscoting For Your Bathroom

The elegance of black and white wainscoting for a bathroom is unbeatable. You can take it a step further by adding black ship-lapped wainscoting together with black moulded framed mirrors that come with crown and black-framed double-hung window. This can be combined with ashy parquet flooring as well as all-white sanitary ware like two white ceramic console sinks that are placed symmetrically. You can add a freestanding bathtub, white walls, white ceiling and a white toilet.

Black and White Wainscoting For Your Bathroom

Grey Wainscoting Walls

The last option in our list is the grey wainscoting walls with a marble console sink plus a cement tiled floor. While monochromatic, the style is quite sophisticated. Add grey wainscoted walls, a chrome leg console sink characterized by a moulded edge marble countertop, as well as harmonious black, white and grey cement tiles with a diamond pattern. Keep the fittings and faucets chrome.

Grey Wainscoting Walls

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