Cost to Install Wainscoting – 2021

| Last Updated: August 24, 2021

National Average Improvement and Repair Cost







$ 2250

$ 750

Would you do this project? According to our survey, 53% of respondents preferred DIY compared to hiring a pro.

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The average price to Install Wainscoting noted above is cost data to compare a contractor’s estimate with doing it yourself.

How much is wainscoting? A contractor charges $2250 to install wainscoting or you can do it yourself for $750 and save 67 percent. 

A beadboard wainscot will add an architectural element that can take the form of a chair rail to protect the wall or a plate rail to display a collection of plates or artwork. While original beadboard was a thick wall cladding of tongue-and groove boards, today you can use a lighter beadboard that comes in 4-by-8-sheets of 1/4-inch thick panels.

To add the charm of a plate rail wainscot, install the panels about 4 or 5 feet from the floor and finish with a deep cap rail to hold decorative items. To create a chair rail, the wainscot should be about 3 feet high, and capped with a chair rail molding. This is a nice way to protect wall surfaces in a dining area, where chairs can damage walls as they’re pushed away from the table.

It’s not a trivial investment but you’ll enjoy it for years to come. A carpenter will charge $2250 to install 180 square feet of unfinished beadboard wainscoting capped with a chair rail molding in a 12-by-15-foot room. That includes labor and material.

If you have carpentry skills and tools you can buy the material for $750 and do it yourself and save 68 percent. The beadboard can be fastened to the wall with construction adhesive, or on furring strips nailed to the wall. To finish the wainscot, plan to sand it lightly before priming and applying a finish.

A carpenter told us it’s a good idea to lay out the job according to how you work. If you are right-handed, begin in a left-hand corner and work towards your right; you lefties should begin in a right corner and work toward the left.

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The bottom line: compare the price of a contractor’s bid to install wainscoting with what it costs to do it yourself and make your decision.

Here’s more about protecting your walls:

Welcome! We hope you’ll find the job costs of home improvement projects useful when you’re deciding whether to do a job yourself vs. hire a contractor. We’re the authors of 20 home improvement books, most notably Home Improvement for Dummies©, Bathroom Remodeling for Dummies©, Carpentry for Dummies©, Plumbing for Dummies©, and Painting and Wallpapering for Dummies©. Our most recent book Fix It and Flip It is in its second edition. We’ve appeared as home improvement experts on television programs such as CNN, Dateline, the Today Show, HGTV and many others.