Used primarily for decorative purposes, or to hide a blemished or damaged wall, flat panel wainscoting is essentially just that—flat or recessed paneling. It can be made from a variety of materials and finished in plenty of attractive styles. Here’s how to decide if it’s the look you’re going for in your home.
If you feel confident enough to install flat panel wainscoting yourself, you can buy a kit for around $200, depending on the quality of the materials. Expect to pay more for professional installation. However, hiring a contractor is highly recommended due to the skill level required in installing wainscoting. Get a price quote to see if it fits within your budget.
The durability of raised panel wainscoting depends on the materials used. Natural hardwood may be the best choice, but MDF is also considered durable as long as it isn’t exposed to a large amount of water.
Wood paneling, MDF included, is generally very easy to maintain. Simply dust the paneling regularly, and do a deep clean now and then with a mixture of detergent and warm water. Always dry your paneling right away.
The flat panels are installed directly over drywall and nailed in place with a finish nailer. The holes and seams can be caulked and filled or covered with decorative moldings. Flat panels are often used in combination with decorative moldings. They are very supportive to accompanying trims, and because of their flat nature, trims can be used to create designs and patterns on top of the flat panel.
Depending on the materials your panels consist of, you can either paint or stain them. The natural woods or wood veneers can be stained or sealed. All materials can be painted, and the vinyl comes either pre-painted or you can purchase a special paint made just for that purpose.
Wainscoting has been a home decorating staple since its origins in 16th century England. It was originally intended to insulate the home from cold, damp weather and to show a family’s wealth.
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